When Formula E confirmed that it would not be returning to Donington for its pre-season testing the hunt for a new racing venue begun. The difficulty in finding a track that is adequately representative to the city-centre street circuits that Formula E race on in the championship would always prove a challenge but a track was finally chosen; Valencia and the Circuit Ricardo Tormo – a popular testing venue, previously hosting Formula 1 and MotoGP.
However two additions to the race circuit have been making headlines this week during testing, and not for the right reasons.
These two chicanes, formerly just one on Monday’s testing day with a second added overnight for Tuesday, have been slated by most drivers during this week’s testing, with comments about the safety of the structures and how chicanes that are commonly used in Formula E should have been put in their place instead. A simple solution on paper, however with these types of chicanes needing to be bolted to the track and with lack of application from Formula E to do so, the temporary concrete and tyre structures would have to suffice.
“I am buzzing over it, I just can’t get enough of [the chicanes],” DS Virgin Racing driver and Formula E veteran Sam Bird sarcastically tell me.
He has just visited the pit wall to see the damage Venturi test driver James Rossiter has caused crashing into one of the obstacles on Tuesday afternoon. The red flag has brought a lot of drivers to inspect the damage and with a lot of shaking heads there is relief as Rossiter removes himself from the beaten up car that has been left without a front right suspension and wheel. Rossiter is shaken and with swelling to his hands is taken to the medical centre where he is given strong painkillers and advised to take it easy for the rest of the day. The accident is almost identical to Bird the day previously, when the Briton clipped the right chicane and caused damage to the right hand side of the car.
Grabbing Bird before he hops back into his DS Virgin as the red flag is finally ended, he is clearly disappointed in the structures that have been put in place to slow the cars down on track, replicate a ‘street style’ format and prevent the drivers from knackering their batteries.
“I think that [Formula E] is such a professional category and [the chicanes] do not quite live up to the expectation that we as teams and drivers have now.
“Had we as a series brought the barriers and kerbs from the likes of Berlin and other tracks, we wouldn’t have these chicanes that we have in currently. But look, they are here and we have to go round them and that is that.
“Everybody is in the same boat. At least it is consistent for everybody.”
Image source: DS Virgin Racing