Sims: Puebla track "extreme by Formula E standards"

Mahindra driver Alexander Sims says the new Puebla track in Mexico is “quite extreme by Formula E standards” and will put extra load on tyres in both qualifying and the race.

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FE will make its first visit to the Autodromo Miguel E. Abed this weekend, with the series’ preferred venue in Mexico City currently housing a temporary hospital for COVID-19 patients and hence unavailable for racing.

The 1.85-mile anti-clockwise circuit is only the second permanent track on the 2020/21 FE calendar after Valencia, which hosted a pair of events in April after also holding the sole pre-season test late last year.

For the Puebla E-Prix, FE has opted for an adapted version of the track used by the World Touring Car Championship between 2005-09, taking a slight detour after Turn 3 of 15. Following a tight hairpin, the FE layout rejoins the WTCC configuration at Turn 6, passing a tight infield section before completing the lap via a banked final corner that also forms part of the 1.25-mile oval.

Sims, who scored his first podium as a Mahindra driver in Rome, believes the Puebla track will pose a new challenge to Formula E teams but doesn’t expect the banking at the last turn to create much of a problem.

“I think the track is quite extreme for Formula E standards in terms of the amount of long, flowing corners that we’ve got here in Puebla,” the 33-year-old told Motorsport.com.

“There’s very little time just actually in a straight line and so I think tyres, that’s going to be quite a challenge to keep the tyres underneath us for the a) for the full qualifying lap, to not have the tyre performance drop off b) and then for the full race.

“The banked corner I mean it’s unique to [the Puebla track in] Formula E, but not necessarily unique to racing as such. 

“I think it’s going to be a tough corner on 250kw in qualifying, especially at the end of the lap when the tyres are probably getting pretty hot and struggling. In the race it’s not necessarily going to be such an issue.”

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Another unique aspect of the Puebla layout is that the attack mode activation zone is located wide off the circuit, with drivers required to pass a World Rallycross-style joker route on the outside of Turn 8.

Sims expects to lose more time arming the attack mode in Puebla compared to a more traditional street venue, and warned that drivers will rejoin the track at roughly the same speed as the rest after enabling the extra power mode.

“I think 1.5s is sometimes the case when the attack mode is just offline on some corner configurations but this looks like it should be more, maybe 2-2.5s time loss," the British driver explained.

“The biggest thing is the actual distance that you are doing. Normally because the attack mode is outside on a fairly tight corner, it’s the speed you have to drop down to. 

“This time it’s pretty much the distance that you are doing differently. So the biggest thing is probably merging back on the racing line.

“When you have done the attack mode you are going to be at the same speed as pretty much the guys exiting the corner.

“I think there are going to be walls as well. So although we are on a permanent circuit it’s still going to be the same situation as all the other street tracks where you are going to be squeezed up against the wall. So that’s going to be critical to come out in clean air.”

Puebla Formula E track map

Puebla Formula E track map

Photo by: FIA Formula E

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