Wednesday, March 30, 2016

2016 Long Beach ePrix Preview

Formula E returns to the United States and Long Beach plays host to the all-electric series for the second time. This year, Long Beach is the sixth of eleven races on the 2015–16 Formula E Championship schedule. Last year, Nelson Piquet, Jr. scored his first career Formula E victory on his way to the 2014–15 Formula E championship. The Brazilian held off then-Andretti Autosport driver Jean-Éric Vergne and Audi Sport ABT driver Lucas di Grassi.

Renault e.dams driver Sébastien Buemi enters with a 22-point lead over di Grassi. Di Grassi cross the line first at the inaugural race in Mexico City but was disqualified for his car being underweight. This disqualification gave Dragon Racing's Jérôme d'Ambrosio his second-career Formula E victory. Ironically, d'Ambrosio's only other Formula E victory came after di Grassi was disqualified at Berlin last year. DS Virgin Racing's Sam Bird is third in the championship, 38 points behind Buemi and two points ahead of d'Ambrosio.

Dragon Racing is the top American team in the championship and trailing d'Ambrosio by 14 points is his Dragon Racing teammate Loïc Duval. Duval has finished fourth on three occasions this season. Nicolas Prost is six points behind his fellow Frenchman Duval. Prost was elevated to third in Mexico City after di Grassi's disqualification. It was Prost's first podium in just over a year when he won at Miami. Andretti Autosport's Robin Frijns is seventh in the championship with 31 points. The Dutchman is one of two drivers to finish every race in a points-paying position. His average finish is 7.2 through five races.

Venturi Grand Prix's Stéphane Sarrazin is a point behind Frijns and is the other driver to finish in points-paying positions in every race. Sarrazin has finished ninth in every odd-number race and fourth in every even-number race. Mahindra Racing's Nick Heidfeld trails Sarrazin by three points despite missing Punta del Este due to injury. Team Aguri's António Félix da Costa rounds out the top ten in the champions with 16 points. Daniel Abt also has ten points but da Costa holds the tiebreaker with two sixth-place finishes and Abt's best finish this season is seventh.

NEXTEV TCR's Oliver Turvey has ten points while DS Virgin Racing's Vergne has eight points and Piquet, Jr. returns to Long Beach with only four points. Piquet's finished eighth at Putrajaya, his only points-paying finish this season.

Simona de Silvestro is the only driver to have competed in the first five races and have yet to score points. She finished 11th at Punta del Este. Andretti Autosport has yet to win in Formula E. Mike Conway and Salvador Durán have competed the last two rounds for Venturi Grand Prix and Team Aguri respectively. Neither driver has scored points.

The 2016 Long Beach ePrix has been extended by two laps from 39 laps to 41 laps. The race is scheduled to take place at 7:00 p.m. ET on Saturday April 2nd. Fox Sports 1 will show the race live with coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.