FE drivers praise Hyderabad track layout, unimpressed by facilities

The new Hyderabad E-Prix circuit impressed Formula E drivers as the series made its long-awaited debut in India, but the paddock facilities left much to be desired.

FE drivers praise Hyderabad track layout, unimpressed by facilities

Hyderabad played host to India's first world championship-level motorsport event in over a decade on Saturday, with the streets around the Hussain Sagar lake near the city centre turned into a temporary circuit for the occasion.

Measuring 2.8km in length, track featured a wide variety of corners and provided for high average speeds, drawing praise from drivers who felt it was one of the most enjoyable circuits to drive on the Formula E calendar.

The Turns 1/2 chicane that was a late addition to the circuit did draw some criticism, particularly due to a lack of kerbing and the way the track limits were enforced, but the overall impression of the track was overwhelmingly positive following the inaugural Hyderabad race.

“It's been a cool experience,” said Porsche’s Antonio Felix da Costa, who finished on the podium in third. “I think the track was actually one of the most fun tracks we've had to drive a fast lap. 

“I think to race we have to improve but I think it was a super experience.”

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Envision’s Nick Cassidy, who finished second to race winner Jean-Eric Vergne, added: “I really liked the track this weekend. I think right from the sim [to] arriving here I said I really enjoyed driving the track. 

“Maybe Turn 1 we can improve but overall, I think it's a successful and exciting race.”

With work to get the circuit ready continuing until the beginning of the race weekend, the track was littered with dust at the start of Friday’s shakedown, and the use of sweepers did not fully alleviate the concerns ahead of the opening practice session the same day.

Falling tree leaves also contributed to the problem, which meant the track remained quite dirty for drivers outside the racing line on race day.

Kelvin van der Linde, ABT CUPRA Formula E Team, M9Electro

Kelvin van der Linde, ABT CUPRA Formula E Team, M9Electro

Photo by: Andrew Ferraro / Motorsport Images

DS Penske’s Verge gave a thumbs up to the track layout after scoring his first win since the 2021 Rome E-Prix nearly two years ago, but did raise the issue about construction dust in the post-race press conference.

The Frenchman was the only driver on the Hyderabad FE grid who was present for the 2013 Indian Grand Prix, the last major international race in the country before the Buddh International Circuit was dropped from the Formula 1 calendar the following year.

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 “The track, the layout was very cool,” he said. “I think they probably need to make some amendment in the first chicane because it's quite hard to monitor the track limit. But as for the rest of the track it was very good. 

"I hope they can have a better cleaning machine for next year for the track because it was very, very dusty. But besides that, it all went well.”

The work in the paddock continued well into race day and the overall look of the area behind the garages gave a very utilitarian feel, even for a temporary circuit that is supposed to be taken down every year after the race - save for the garages themselves.

Some drivers felt that the facilities available at the track were either not up to standard or insufficient, including a lack of washrooms in the paddock/pitlane area.

This meant that drivers had to dash to a shopping mall that was also home to the media centre to relieve themselves, a solution that was far from ideal amid Formula E’s tight schedule.

Asked what kind of improvements he would like to see next year, Jaguar's Sam Bird told Autosport: “Just in general some of the facilities that we got to experience are quite difficult and challenging. 

Pitstop practice, Antonio Felix da Costa, Porsche

Pitstop practice, Antonio Felix da Costa, Porsche

Photo by: Andreas Beil

“We'd have liked facilities for hundreds of people working in the pitlane. They clearly needed to use bathrooms, not having any in the pitlane is quite disappointing. 

“The level of track sweepers available has been weak. Then redesigning a couple of corners.”

Mahindra’s Lucas di Grassi highlighted the potential impact of dust on equipment and felt some of the issues teams faced could have been avoided had the construction work been completed before the start of race week.

“For me the facilities could be slightly better or could be better,” he said. “For example, in the back of the garage not having the dust because the dust sometimes gets inside the electronics. 

“Simple stuff, nothing special. The garages and everything else I think is pretty cool. Just the back part of it needs to be made slightly earlier, it's just a matter of time. Not quality, just time.”

Andretti’s Jake Dennis added: “I think the circuit layout is one of the best. I think all the drivers have generally said it's a really good circuit to drive. Anything outside of the track is a bonus in terms of the facilities.”

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