Ex-Formula 1 driver Pascal Wehrlein put a stop to the Esports dominance of Maximillian Gunther in the Formula E Race at Home Challenge last week around a virtual Monaco.
A return to Hong Kong, where Gunther claimed a fortunate win after a crash for early leader Stoffel Vandoorne, marks the fourth round of the competition – which runs in partnership with Motorsport Games to support the UNICEF coronavirus relief fund.
In the real world, Envision Virgin Racing driver Sam Bird is the form driver around the 10-turn circuit thanks to his 2017 victory and winning on the road in 2019 prior to a five-second penalty for causing a collision.
Bird, the only driver to have won in every season of FE, guides Motorsport.com around a lap of the track.
“In order to start a lap, you need a good exit out of the last corner. Your lap starts with two corners to go – the right-hander by the pit entry. You need to have a strong line through there and then a really solid exit out of the last corner to propel yourself down the straight.”
“You’re straight-line braking into a tight right-hand hairpin. You’ve got to pick your braking point, which in the real car is just after the 100-metre board.
“It’s all about rotating the car mid-corner and getting a great exit down what is one of the longest straights in Formula E.
“If you try and carry too much minimum speed or try and get on the power too early, you could run out of road on exit. Or, you could have bad throttle application on exit – you go on power, then have to come off and back on again and lose time.”
“Down the long straight, you’ve got time to check your settings, make any adjustments. If you need to change the brake bias or anything else in the real car, you’d be doing it going into Turn 2.”
“In the real car, you’re passing under a shaded area. This was very tricky last year in the wet as you move into a dry patch where there’s lots of painted lines on the surface.
“Me and Andre [Lotterer] came together here because it was quite damp and slippery off line. I locked up and hit the back of him.
“The corner itself is a 90-degree right-hander. For me, it’s about good braking. This is a corner where you can carry a good minimum speed.
“The exit is not really the key thing here. It’s more about braking and minimal speed.”
“Between Turns 2 and 3, set the car up ready for the chicane. Bring the car all the way back to the right-hand side.
“The chicane in the simulator is much quicker. It’s more like a very tiny breathe on the brake and then a lift. So it’s quite a quick sequence. In reality, it’s a proper brake and you’ve really got to turn the car a lot to the left and then the right.
“Use all the curb that you can in order to rotate the car.”
“Then it’s the short little drag before it kinks left and then right for Turn 5. This is a tricky one. The wall lures you in a little bit. It’s jagged, not a smooth wall.
“You’ve got to be really careful not to clip your inside wheel on the apex wall. We’ve seen quite a few people in qualifying over the years clip the wall on the exit before going down into the tight, right-hand hairpin.”
Photo by: FIA Formula E
“There’s a change of material on the road here. It’s not Tarmac anymore, it’s concrete. It’s quite rough into a downhill braking zone. It’s an area where I did probably one of my best overtakes in season four against Jean-Eric Vergne in the opening race of the season.
“As it’s a tight hairpin, this is an area where you can make up a bit of time on people with good braking efficiency. Again, rotate the car and get it out as best you can.
“You have to work on everything: braking, keeping up the minimum speed and a good exit. Don’t run out too wide because you’ve got to place the car to come back to the right-hand side again, before you sweep into a medium-speed double left section.”
Turns 7 and 8
“When you take the first apex, you can nearly treat it as one corner. You fire the speed into the left, use all the road on the exit and then almost immediately you’re turning into the next left hander as well, which again is a high minimum speed corner.
“Use all the road on the exit and then it’s a case of just executing the last two corners as best you can.”
Turns 9 and 10
“By this point on the track, the tyres are quite hot, especially in the race.
“You’ve still got to do one good braking zone. So again brake in a straight line for the 90-degree left hander.
“For the second-to-last corner, use three quarters of the road at the exit, not all of it because again, you’ve got to bring the car back as much as you can ready to fire the speed through the last corner across the finish line.”
Round four of the Race at Home Challenge (Saturday 16 May) is available to watch via the Formula E website, Motorsport.tv, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Twitch. The stream starts at 1530 BST.
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