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Formula E Preview: Hyderabad

Written by Vyas Ponnuri, Edited by Sasha Macmillen

Image credits - Frédéric Soltan/Corbis via Getty Images

Following another enthralling race weekend in the desert of Diriyah, one that saw many good stories up and down the field, the Formula E caravan heads to the subcontinent for the first time, to the Southern city of Hyderabad for the Hyderabad E Prix, to be held on February 10th and 11th, 2023.

The Hyderabad E Prix marks the return of a major motorsport event in India in a decade - the last FIA-sanctioned event held here being the Indian Grand Prix, at the famed Buddh International Circuit in 2013. The event came about following a “Letter of Intent” being signed by the local Telangana state Government and Formula E early in 2022. This race will also be the first for one of the oldest teams in the series: Mahindra Racing. After a torrid time in the desert of Diriyah, Lucas Di Grassi and Oliver Rowland will be looking forward to this momentous event, hoping to impress the vast multitude of fans cheering them on. However, they will face stern competition, in the form of championship leader Pascal Wehrlein and his close rival Jake Dennis, both of whom will be looking to continue their emerging rivalry into the first new location on the Formula E calendar.

The track for the Hyderabad E Prix

The inaugural Hyderabad E Prix is set to take place along the 2.83km(1.76mi)-long Hyderabad Street Circuit. As was the case last time out in Diriyah, the start and finish lines are at different points on the circuit. Nestled on the banks of the Hussein Sagar Lake, the lap commences with two long straights, separated by the Hussein Sagar Chicane in between. The start line is on the latter straight, with the run down to turns three, four, and five(Lumbini Hairpin) set to be an exciting affair, and a potential overtaking zone in the race. The cars will once again make their way for a short dash, parallel to the previous straight, before a left hander takes them through a winding, technical infield section, consisting of a series of quick corners. A right-hander at turn 14 takes them down a short straight, before a sequence of “right-left-right” corners take the drivers to the finish line, and complete a lap around the circuit.

This is the latest configuration of the Hyderabad Street Circuit, designed by Drive International, who also drew up the latest configuration of the Yas Marina Circuit. The initial rendering of the layout received plenty of criticism from drivers, thus leading to major changes made, even before the season commenced. A further change to the layout saw the right-hander of turn 1 being converted into a chicane, to provide for an overtaking opportunity, and for energy conservation.

The circuit is expected to provide for an exciting race, with overtaking opportunities at the Turn 1 chicane and the following sequence of corners, turns 3, 4, and 5, expected to witness plenty of overtaking action during the race.

The stories from last time out in Diriyah

The first double-header of Formula E’s GEN3 era brought us plenty of great stories - the likes of Jake Hughes, Rene Rast, Sebastian Buemi and Sam Bird among them.

The biggest storymakers from the weekend were Pascal Wehrlein and Jake Dennis, both finishing one-two across the weekend’s races, Wehrlein taking the championship lead by six points from Dennis. Jaguar experienced a strong showing, with Sam Bird taking two top-four finishes, including a rostrum appearance in race one, and Mitch Evans scoring points in both races. Maserati got their first points of the season, Edoardo Mortara taking ninth place, splitting Sacha Fenestraz and Dan Ticktum, who redeemed themselves after tough weekends in Mexico City.

On the other hand, Mahindra had a very tough weekend in the desert; despite both drivers making it into the duels in race one, neither finished in the points, Rowland’s race hampered when he went into his teammate at the start, and Di Grassi struggling for overall pace. In race two, neither driver made it to the duels, and circulated outside the points for the majority of the race. Their customer team ABT Cupra too had a similar showing; Nico Mueller had a weekend to forget, not making the chequered flag in either race, while Kelvin Van Der Linde had a decent weekend, stepping in for the injured Robin Frijns. The South African will continue to step in for the injured Frijns at Hyderabad, hoping to put his experience at Diriyah to good use this weekend.

Image credits - Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Expectations for the weekend

Going by the recent trend, I expect the Porsche-powered teams to be strong once again; after all, Wehrlein and Dennis came through the field in Diriyah, twice, to finish a dominant one-two. Buemi would be expected to continue his resurgence this season for Envision Racing. The papaya-orange McLaren cars will be in the spotlight once again; Hughes and Rast once again expected to be mixing it up for the podium spots, alongside their Jaguar counterparts.

I wouldn’t rule out Mahindra from a good result, either, despite their relatively poor showing in Diriyah. As Nigel Mansell once said, “The home crowd usually gives you a few extra tenths”, I wouldn’t rule out either Mahindra driver from securing a big result in front of their home crowd. Another driver who I expect to come good would be Antonio Felix Da Costa, in his 100th Formula E outing.

That’s it from me, for now. Do make sure to tune in for the Hyderabad E Prix, with FP1 on Friday, 10th February, at 16:25 p.m. IST (10:55 a.m. GMT).


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