Formula One: Why Mumm Champagne chose Formula E over F1

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As the 2015 Formula One World Championship drew to a close, so did a 15-year partnership the sport held with Mumm Champagne. Following a period of extensive analysis in which fan association of the brand with Formula One was disappointingly low, the need for a change in direction was clear.  Realising the brand could no longer rely on the pull of Formula One, Mumm Champagne, under the guidance of Carl Gurdjian, embarked upon a bold strategy focusing their motorsport efforts on Formula E.

Having been involved with the sport since day one as something of a silent partner, acting predominately as a supplier, the 2015/2016 season saw Mumm Champagne become a leading partner in the Championship. Free from the restrictions partners have experienced within Formula One, Mumm Champagne have pioneered unique activation projects with the objective of bringing and immersing fans into the world of Formula E in every way imaginable.

Be it with the award winning podium celebration which takes place not in the confides of the pitlane but in the fan village itself, allowing fans to celebrate alongside the drivers; or the instant video content posted across the Mumm Champagne Social Media channels under the #DareWinCelebrate.

Learning from their time as partners within Formula One the brand has realised they must do much more than simply be a logo on the podium and something drivers spray themselves with to celebrate victory. Within their Formula E relationship Mumm Champagne are investing as much into activation as they are endorsement. They are a premium brand and they position themselves as such, but this positioning through Formula E is done in such a way as to make it aspirational rather than unobtainable.

Formula E is in its infancy. It is easy to forget the series has only just completed it’s second season. Those running the sport are young, the appreciation for social media engagement, for listening and responding to fans, to adapting the product, is possibly more developed than those in other series. There is a genuine willingness to succeed and develop a mutually beneficial environment.  This approach is causing concern within F1 with leading teams citing Formula E as their main challenger when pitching to new potential partners. It is incredible to think that the series has achieved all of this in only two seasons.

At this point I must add a disclaimer. I attended the closing weekend of the second Formula E season as a guest of Mumm Champagne. Rather than suggesting this experience has left me with a biased opinion of the partnership I would say it has offered me a more informed view. In my time as a motorsport fan I have been fortunate enough to experience the F1 paddock as a team guest. The experience was something I will forever hold dear, and to be honest something I thought would be difficult to surpass. Spending the weekend as a guest of Mumm Champagne has made me reconsider this opinion.

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The nature of a Formula E event is something of great appeal to the brand. They are of course fully immersed into the race itself, but Formula E for them is much more than this. They view each round as 50% racing, 50% celebration. Through the 2015/2016 season Mumm Champagne have used Formula E as the platform to launch the Grand Cordon in each of the locations visited. This launch would take the form of inclusion into the podium celebration alongside a driver ambassador programme. Through the driver ambassador programme drivers work directly with Mumm Champagne, engaging with media & new partners to boost not only the series but also the drivers’ individual profile. In addition to the driver ambassador programme,  Mumm Champagne work with other partners involved with the series in a cross pollination of promotion and B2B opportunities, working collaboratively to achieve a win win situation.

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As a guest of Mumm Champagne I was privileged enough to be taken around the circuit on a hot lap in a BMW i8, to interview Jean-Éric Vergne and to have almost unlimited access to the paddock. This itself was a privilege. Greater still was to come.  Following the conclusion of the championship on Sunday, after a cheeky email, I received a call inviting me to the season closing Gala dinner held at the British Museum. The event was magnificent; it was an honour to attend. I was sitting at the Abt table for the evening and after the events during the race earlier in the day I was expecting a somewhat frosty atmosphere. The experience was quite the opposite. After an opening speech from Alejandro Agag, Lucas Di Grassi asked if he could address the room. Keen to put the final result of the season behind him he congratulated Sébastien Buemi, putting any differences on the track behind them. He went on to speak with great eloquence of his passion for Formula E. He is proud to be part of the series and has a genuine belief that they are part of history. He and everyone in the room shared a sentiment that Formula E represents the future of motorsport. The series is one filled with optimism. There is a will to succeed and share success throughout the series. This is something Mumm Champagne have encapsulated in their approach to partnering with the championship.

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Mumm Champagne is a brand of celebration. Following the Gala dinner, to round out what has become one of the most surreal weekends I have encountered in motorsport I was also invited to the Mumm Champagne After Party. An event attended by over 500 guests including drivers, managers, partners; everyone and anyone involved in the sport. Any differences of the race or the season put aside, the sole purpose of the evening was to celebrate. I was asked part way through the evening how I might approach a write up on Mumm Champagne in Formula E and it struck me, I could not imagine anything close to this experience being possible in F1 with so many vested interests and egos in the way. I will always be an F1 fan at heart, but I can see the Formula E, not only in it’s racing but in everything it does really could lead the future of Motorsport. I was left with no question as to why Mumm Champagne left F1 to focus on Formula E, and why it was the right call.

Formula One: Herbie Blash to step down as Deputy F1 Race Director

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A 50-year veteran of Formula One, Michael ‘Herbie’ Blash (pictured on the right in the above image) began his Grand Prix career in 1965 working with privateer Lotus entrant Rob Walker. In 1968 he was employed by Lotus where he became race engineer to Jochen Rindt. In 1972 he moved to the Brabham where he became team manager, a post he would hold until 1988. Following a period as Sporting Director with Brabham in the early ‘90s he then moved to Yamaha as Sporting Director. In 1996 he became the FIA Deputy Race Director in Formula One, a role he has fulfilled without fail ever since.

The role of F1 Deputy Race Director will be taken on by Laurent Mekies who joined the FIA as Safety Director in 2014. A graduate engineer of the ESTACA School in France, Laurent Mekies began his Formula One career as a race engineer with the Arrows F1 team in 2001 before moving to Minardi the following year. After the team’s takeover and renaming as Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2006, Mekies was appointed Chief Engineer. In 2012 he took on a new role as Head of Vehicle Performance at the Faenza team. Mekies will continue to hold the post of Safety Director but will now also work alongside FIA Formula One Race Director Charlie Whiting at all Formula One races.

FIA President Jean Todt said: “I would personally like to thank Herbie for all of his hard work for the FIA over the past 21 years, and especially for his contribution in maintaining Formula One’s place at the pinnacle of motor sport. Along with Charlie, Herbie has been instrumental in the seamless running of grand prix races for over two decades, and we are pleased that he will continue to work with the FIA in future.

Replacing someone with Herbie’s immense experience was never going to be easy. However, we are fortunate to be able to appoint Laurent Mekies to this position. Laurent brings a wealth of Formula One experience, and has been responsible for driving the FIA’s safety agenda since joining us. Combining his strong Formula One history and work as the FIA’s Safety Director, I am confident that he will ensure that the FIA’s flagship single-seater championship continues to set the benchmark for race management and safety – a status that his predecessor, Herbie, can take great pride in helping to nurture.

Whiting said: “I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to Herbie for his years of tireless work for our sport. It has been a huge pleasure to be alongside him for almost two decades. Of course Herbie will be hard to replace but, with Laurent’s extensive experience in F1, I’m sure he will be a worthy replacement, he will also be able to bring a new dimension of experience to our team of F1 officials.

Herbie Blash will formally stand down from his position at the end of this season.

Formula One: Jean-Éric Vergne open to an F1 return with Scuderia Ferrari or the Haas F1 Team

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Speaking from the London round of the FIA Formula E championship, Mumm Champagne ambassador Jean-Éric Vergne has spoken about his plans for season 3 in the championship and of an openness to the prospect of a return to Formula One.

After a troubled qualifying session in which Jean-Éric was unable to participate in the super pole shootout despite qualifying 5th, JWGP  caught up with the Frenchman to discuss his experience of Formula E and plans for the future.

Speaking candidly Jean-Éric confirmed his commitment to remain in Formula E for the 3rd season of the championship, but that he will be moving to another team on the grid.  Despite this commitment JEV would not rule out a possible drive with Scuderia Ferrari or the Haas F1 Team in 2017. Whilst there would be a few race weekend clashes between the categories, rules within Formula E would allow JEV to participate in both championships.

With Kimi Räikkönen out of contact for 2017 and both Haas F1 drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez having a level of flexibility in contracts based on team and driver performance, as Scuderia Ferrari Development Driver Jean Eric Verge is in a prime position to return to F1 should the opportunity arise.

Despite electing to transition to another team on the Formula E grid for season 3 Jean Eric was keen to praise the professionalism and hard work of the DS Virgin Racing team. Having adopted a duel motor single gear configuration, the team have been working season long with an overweight car resulting in challenging vehicle dynamics with which the drivers and team have fought season long to overcome.  Speaking of his season highlight ahead of the London ePrix Jean-Éric reflected on the inaugural Paris ePrix which saw him achieve his first pole position in the category, something he later translated into a strong podium finish.

Following our interview, Jean-Éric went on to secure his second podium of the year in the penultimate round of the FIA Formula E world championship. He will be looking to end the season in style today with another podium and hopefully that illusive first win.

You can follow Formula E the series You Tube channel here.

UK readers can watch the action unfold live on ITV1 today.

Formula One: Remaining Tyre allocation & possible race Strategy – Austrian GP

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The 2016 Austrian Grand Prix is set to be a thrill tomorrow with a mixed up grid, alternate qualifying strategies and limited dry running across the board. Due to the differing data available from Friday and today, a number of opportunities are open and it is quite difficult to predict the best strategy for tomorrow. The drivers with two sets of soft tyres available have a big potential advantage. A two-stop strategy looks to be the winning one. Using the data from Saturday, two different types of two-stopper appear to be best: start on supersoft, change to soft on lap 16, and soft again on lap 44 is the optimal strategy. If starting on ultrasoft, a change to soft by lap 10 and then soft again by lap 40 looks to be just a few seconds slower.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director:Austria has certainly proved to be a very unpredictable event so far, and lap times before the shower that fell in Q3 were up to two seconds faster than the times in each equivalent session from 2015. Both in terms of weather and events on the track, so we can expect this unpredictable theme to continue tomorrow. We’re anticipating two stops tomorrow and reasonably short stints on the ultrasoft, which are of course designed to provide the ultimate performance but at the expense of durability. We saw tyre strategy underway during qualifying, with Ferrari and Red Bull running the supersoft in Q2, which will give them the opportunity to run a longer first stint tomorrow. The final shoot-out was all about finding the right window of opportunity for the slick tyres to perform at their best on a drying track.”

Taking a look below the a diverse range of strategy can be expected through the race. Current forecasts suggest dry conditions for the race, but with mixed conditions throughout the weekend to date teams will have to be prepared for every eventuality.

Jenson Button will be keen to capitalise on an incredible 3rd on the grid, with both Mercedes and Force India have struggled off the grid in earlier races this year could we see a Mclaren leading into T1 for the first time since Brazil 2012?

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Formula One: Austrian GP – Tyre compound selction reminder & preview

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For Formula One’s annual visit to the Red Bull Ring, with its stunning mountain setting, the three softest compounds in the P Zero range have been nominated: soft, supersoft and ultrasoft. The Spielberg track is probably the closest that Formula One comes to a rally stage: with big changes of elevation and a sequence of fast and twisty corners. The weather in the region can also be quite unpredictable. Although the circuit only returned to the F1 calendar in 2014, it has its roots in the 1969 Osterreichring, which gives the track quite an old-school character that is still in evidence now.

THE CIRCUIT FROM A TYRE POINT OF VIEW:

  • The first two sectors are fast with the final sector being slower and more technical.
  • The circuit tests a wide spectrum of a tyre’s ability, in terms of lateral and longitudinal loading.
  • Wear, degradation and temperatures are quite low, which is why we have the softest tyres.
  • Judging the braking points is quite complex, as there are a number of uphill braking areas.
  • The track surface is generally low-grip and low abrasion, as well as being bumpy in places.
  • Spielberg is the shortest lap time of the year with only nine corners, so precision is vital.

THE THREE NOMINATED COMPOUNDS:

  • Yellow soft: unusually this is the hardest tyre in the range, one of the mandatory available sets.
  • Red supersoft: these should play an important role in the race, also a mandatory available set.
  • Purple ultrasoft: the most popular choice by a long way, with up to nine sets nominated per car.

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Driver tyre selection could all be for nothing however, with wet weather forecast across the entire race weekend.

PAUL HEMBERY, PIRELLI MOTORSPORT DIRECTOR:                     

  • “Austria is one of the most picturesque and individual tracks on the championship, which asks a lot from the tyres in terms of all-round mechanical grip and performance, which is why the ultrasoft has been resoundingly favoured here. As a result, we may have a two-stop race this time, even though last year was a one-stopper. However, this venue is always quite unpredictable: we had a safety car period right at the beginning of the grand prix last year, while rain as well as bright sunshine seems to be an equal possibility. The ultrasoft compound should be well-suited to the Red Bull Ring, which means that we will almost certainly see the fastest laps ever of this current circuit configuration this weekend.”

WHAT’S NEW? 

  • The circuit has been completely re-asphalted this year, with the new asphalt having a similar level of abrasion to before. The fresh bitumen may offer a different amount of grip though: it will be measured by Pirelli’s engineers on Wednesday before the race.
  • The ultrasoft makes its Austrian debut, having been introduced for the current season.
  • As well as cars, Spielberg also hosted the Red Bull Air Race earlier this year, above the track.

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