Category Archives: EV

Formula One : The Future of Pirelli in F1

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Pirelli returned to Formula One in 2011 as the sole tyre supplier and official championship partner. Pirelli, founded in Italy, recently acquired by ChemChina, joined the championship with a clear mandate from Formula One Management to ‘spice up the racing’ through the development of a range of tyre compounds with significant performance variables and accelerated levels of degradation. Initially, this new philosophy around tyre performance at the pinnacle of motorsports was well received with a positive response from fans and media around a new element of unpredictability surrounding an F1 weekend.

However, as teams and drivers adapted to the Pirelli approach to tyre compound chemistry, car set up and driving techniques evolved to minimise the challenges the tyres presented. This led to increasingly aggressive approaches to performance and degradation levels in tyre development culminating in the “challenging” 2013 British Grand Prix in which teams were supplied with tyres which were not capable of performing at the levels required. The result of which was a race which saw numerous failures throughout the field and a strategic re-evaluation from Pirelli.

In the seasons since 2013, Pirelli has maintained the vision of producing a range of compounds with varying levels of performance and high levels of degradation but with a more conservative approach. The result of this restraint has been races in which teams and drivers focus on tyre management over performance, understanding the optimal approach to a race has often been to extend the life of a tyre rather than push it to its limit. As such, in recent seasons, drivers have rarely complimented the performance of Pirelli’s efforts over a Grand Prix weekend.

Creating positive media coverage in a sole supply situation will always be a challenge. Since there is no competitor to beat, victory becomes the default leaving the only newsworthy coverage that of failure.  In such an environment it can be a challenge to understand how Pirelli quantify benefits from its sponsorship of Formula One. Over seven seasons they have developed a reputation for producing tyres with excessive degradation and minimal differentiation beyond coloured side walls. Would an F1 fan seriously consider buying Pirelli tyres for their own car based on how they perform in Formula One?

So where does this leave Pirelli?

At the end of each season, Pirelli produce an end of year summary detailing all every fact and figure imaginable around; corning speeds, top speeds, lap times, number of overtakes, number of compounds used by each driver and the figure which stood out to me the most, the number of sets of tyres produced in a season.

In 2017 Pirelli produced 38,788 sets of F1 tyres, which equates to approximately 3,258 tons of tyres. Of these, only 12,920 sets (1,085 tons of tyres) were actually used. This means two-thirds of F1 tyres produced in 2017 were never raced and simply destroyed. Whilst Pirelli makes it clear all tyres were recovered, a system in which such a vast number of tyres are produced and shipped around the globe and never used is hugely wasteful and frankly embarrassing for both the manufacturer and the sport. The strategy of an ever-increasing range of tyres being made available for a Grand Prix weekend has resulted in the requirement of an inefficient and cumbersome supply chain. Something which will only increase in 2018 with further tyre compounds and team selection freedoms being added to the Pirelli ‘menu’.

In recent years Michelin, a leading industry competitor, have repeated statements that the current philosophy of Formula One around the use of tyre degradation as a key variable in racing, is of limited strategic merit and is not in keeping with how they believe tyre technology should be presented in motorsport. Instead, Michelin has focused their efforts in Formula E and the World Endurance Championship, showcasing innovations around all-weather tyres, low profile tyres (18-inches, compared to the 13-inch profile used in Formula One), and minimal degradation allowing competitors to push the performance of a tyre throughout an event.

Increasingly Formula One and its regulations are focused on reducing unnecessary waste. limiting fuel use through a race, and limiting the number of power units available to a team through a season. This focus on efficiency appeals to existing OEM’s in the sport including Mercedes, Renault, and Honda, and again sits in contrast to the wasteful and confusing approach mandated to Pirelli. For the 2018 season there is no longer any opportunity for Pirelli to change their approach to racing, but with minimal technical regulation changes set for 2019, perhaps the management of Formula One should look to change the conversation around Pirelli’s role in F1 and encourage the manufacturer to innovate relevant style.

For 2019, perhaps Pirelli should look to consider a simplified approach to tyre compounds, produce tyres with increased variance in performance yet minimised levels of degradation, and adopt 18-inch low profile tyres, enabling the end user to better relate to the product they see racing on a Sunday.

It is understood 2019 is the final season of Pirelli’s current agreement with Formula One. Without change, will it be their last?

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Formula E: Shaky Start to Eurosport UK Coverage of Formula E

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Season Four of the FIA Formula E World Championship got underway this weekend, with rounds 1 & 2 of the action coming from the streets of Hong Kong. The all electric championship continued to thrill fans with ambitious on-track action, and controversies both on and off the track. For Season 4, championship management has stepped up a gear in their creative approach to social media engagement and radical on-screen graphics.

As interest in the championship continues to grow, sponsors and broadcasters are increasingly keen to get in on the action. The latest high profile partner to switch from Formula One to Formula E being Hugo Boss, joining the likes of Allianz and Official Champagne Partner G.H. Mumm in switching categories to refresh their involvement in motorsport and engage with a new audience.

Another partnership announced between Seasons 3 & 4 of Formula E was an enhanced partnership with the Discovery Group, which see’s Eurosport take on increased broadcast rights across a number of European territories. In the case of the UK, Formula E will now be broadcast on Channel 5, BT Sport, & Eurosport.

Through season 3, Channel 5’s Formula E output was criticised for the show anchor and race pundit being removed from the event and the director cutting away from key moments in order to fit a channel schedule. The Channel has addressed this feedback in Season 4, with increased involvement at the races. Unfortunately for the opening rounds of the championship the channel did not have rights to broadcast races live.

Live broadcast rights in the UK for the Hong Kong ePrix weekend fell to Eurosport. Curiously in their approach to Formula E coverage, Eurosport have chosen not to use the Formula E World Feed commentary provided by Jack Nicholls, Dario Franchitti, & Bob Varsha, instead, they are working with in-house commentators for Hong Kong at least Tom Gaymor and Mike Conway.

The commentary duo of Jack Nicholls & Dario Franchitti have, over 3 seasons developed a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging dynamic, they convey a passion for the championship and critically attend the races. By contrast the Eurosport team of Tom Gaymor & Mike Conway felt removed from the action on track. Providing a dispassionate overview of the action.

Commentary missed both simple and critical elements of coverage, making fundamental errors in identifying drivers. Put simply, the joy and enthusiasm of Formula E was missing.

Eurosport’s desire to differentiate itself from other broadcasters is understandable, but Formula E’s core appeal, besides technological, is its fast pace, close racing, and unexpected results. Commentators should act as advocates for the championship. Their enthusiasm should drive fans to find more content. The Eurosport UK Team did not achieve this in Hong Kong. Quite the opposite in fact, with many fans commenting they were left cold by the coverage.

The simplest and most cost effective solution would be for the channel to use World Feed Commentators from the Marrakesh ePrix onwards. Why try and reinvent the wheel?

Formula E: Why Audi don’t need Formula One

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Following on from yesterday’s post suggesting that after their success in the World Endurance Championship, Porsche may be considering a future in Formula One, Livery designer extraordinaire & MsportXtra partner Sean Bull went on to post livery concepts around a Future for Audi in F1 again partnering with Red Bull Racing.

Whilst I’m a huge fan of the livery concept. To me, Audi’s future in motorsport sits within Formula E. Earlier this month Audi became the first German Automotive manufacturer to officially commit to the championship, taking over the Abt team license.

As an automotive manufacturer, Audi has recognised the trend towards Electric Vehicles and are embracing it. In motorsports, with Formula One, Audi would be forced into a battle of the budget in order to compete and to be seen as a success. With Formula E, they can engage with a younger audience demographic within a cost controlled environment, in a sport supported by governments and industry. They have an opportunity to lead, not follow.

As Audi works driver Lucas Di Grassi tweeted last month, drivers might miss the 1000bhp LMP1 beasts of Le Mans but the future is Electric, and Audi have embraced their future.

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Formula One: Mercedes confirm Formula E intentions

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Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd (MGP) and Formula E Operations Ltd have signed an agreement by which Mercedes takes an option to enter the FIA Formula E Championship in Season 5. According to the option agreement, Mercedes may choose to be one of the maximum of 12 entries to be proposed by the Championship Promoter to the FIA to enter the 2018-19 Formula E Championship.

Mercedes could take one of the two new entries that will be allocated in season five – subject to approval of the FIA – when the all-electric racing series goes from the current format of two cars per driver, to a single car for the entire event.

The current 10 teams in Formula E are all expected to continue in Season 5 and beyond, on their current format, or joining forces with other OEM’s.

Alejandro Agag said: “We are delighted to confirm that we have reserved one of our two new entries in Season 5 for MGP. Formula E wants to become the platform where car manufacturers test and develop the technologies that they will then introduce on their road cars. Having the chance to include in the future a brand like Mercedes our Championship would be a major boost to achieve that objective. Formula E is becoming an exciting mix of consolidated manufacturers like Renault, Citroen-DS, Audi, Mahindra or Jaguar, and new futuristic brands like Faraday Future, NextEV, or the likes of major component manufacturers like Schaeffler and ZF. Mercedes would be a great addition to that growing line up.”

Toto Wolff said: “We have been watching the growth of Formula E with great interest. At the current time, we are looking at all the options available in the future of motor racing, and we are very pleased with an agreement that secures us an opportunity to enter the series in Season 5. Electrification will play a major role in the future of the automotive industry. Racing has always been a technology R&D platform for industry and this will make Formula E very relevant in the future.”

As the dominant force in Formula One, committing to a future in Formula E is a bold step for Mercedes Grand Prix and a huge vote of confidence in the success of the series. The development will no doubt have been facilitated by Liberty Media, who own shareholding in both Formula One and Formula E and recently confirmed intentions for the series to work in harmony in future calendar planning, management and possible driver sharing. Could we see Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg duke out future championship challenges in Formula E?

Formula E: Qualcomm on the perfect partnership

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With the second season of Formula E having concluded around the tight and twisty confides of Battersea Park, JWGP sat down with Graeme Davison, VIP of Technology for Qualcomm Europe, to discuss Qualcomm’s involvement with the sport and intriguing plans for the future.

Qualcomm are a founding partner to Formula E. Qualcomm operate as series investors, sponsors and technology providers. They are committed to the success of Formula E. The first engagement between Qualcomm and Formula E took place 4 years ago through a meeting in which Formula E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag presented the concept of the series to Graeme in a meeting in San Diego. For Qualcomm, Formula E ticked a number of boxes they saw as crucial to their own development plans. The series offers a strong Sustainability and Environmental message, it creates a platform to make EV (Electric Vehicle) technology fun and interesting, and it brings motor racing to the City Centre, putting it in the hand of a more technology savvy younger audience.

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Through Graeme, Qualcomm act as a virtual technology officer for the series, providing support on technology challenges far beyond the remit of solutions Qualcomm are actively involved in.

Graeme speaks with great pride over the achievements he has seen in the first two seasons of Formula E, reflecting on the first day of testing for the series

I’ve seen it since the first laps of testing in Donnington in which the only car to complete a lap was the rescue truck. Now we find ourselves at the end of the second season, with the championship so closely contented. It’s been fantastic”

On the success of the series Graeme continues:

“The uptake from fans and OEMS (original equipment manufacturers, e.g. Renault, Citroen) coming to the series and looking at how Formula E can act as a showcase for their EV technology and development. Quality of sponsors coming in is amazing. The championship has gone from strength to strength to strength, It has been amazing”

We went on to explore what it is about Formula E that is attracting so many premium sponsors to the sport:

“As a new series, partners can make more of a mark, a unique name and stance coming to the sport than they can coming to F1. Sponsors look for different things from different partnerships. With Formula E they see a different age group, different emphasis on Technology possibly closer to that you might expect to see with the end user.”

Qualcomm are involved in both Formula E and Formula One, using each platform in different ways. They see a clear advantage to being involved in both categories. When discussing who Qualcomm are looking to appeal to with their Formula E involvement Graeme commented:

“The Formula E demographic is a younger audience. The series is targeting the city dweller that wants to walk or use public transport to come to a race. Fanboost proves social interaction works, it’s very much a marmite topic, you either love it or hate it. When teams first started communicating on Fanboost it would be a tweet in Friday before the race, now you see teams running competitions, fan days, complete fan team immersion. What the teams are seeing is that the audience receptive to this engagement are generally the younger markets. That being said, if you take a look around a event today what you find is a complete cross section of followers form the hard-core racing fan, to the younger generation. “

So what do Qualcomm actually do in Formula E, and how is it developing?

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The Qualcomm Formula E relationship is at an event level so it’ about changing the event experience. What’s in it for the fan’s the sponsor’s, for everybody watching worldwide.

Since the inception of the series, Qualcomm have developed and supplied wireless charging solutions for the BMW i8 Safety car, through season 2 and into season 3 they will continue to work on the development of the safety car arena and the wireless charging. BMW are looking at making some changes on the car, Qualcomm implemented power changes between season 1 & 2, increasing the amount of energy being transferred across. A complete charge takes around 60 minutes, with BMW increasing the power and battery size of the safety car in season 2 Qualcomm increased the amount of energy transfer to maintain the charge time.

Qualcomm are working with Formula E on a number of other topics, but at this time were not in a position to disclose too much information on the projects.

One area Graeme was able to discuss was that of wireless charging in the pitlane

“We are looking at what’s involved in putting wireless charging on the race cars. Many factors must be considered to achieve this including; new materials, space requirements, weight requirements and costs. The added complexity when working with an entire series is that you are working with 10 teams, and working to ensure solutions are built into rules and regulations

It’s more than a technology thing, it’s understanding the entire picture. We have completed analysis on the car and what could be done from a technology stand point. We now need to continue the conversation with Formula E on how and when we do it.  Then you have the question of where does it fit in the series? Do we put it in the pit lane so cars can charge while they are parked outside, which wouldn’t be possible under current safety regulations, but would attractive for fans and sponsors, with the cars being on display for greater periods of time”

Thought is clearly being taken into not only finding a technology solution, but ensuring the application is positive for the series.

To round out our conversation JWGP asked Graeme about the ultimate boyhood gamer dream, Mario kart style boosts around a Formula E circuit:

“When Alexandro first came to Qualcomm he asked the question if they could ever have a fully electric track, so you could do a 24hr race. They question is not if but when!

Finally, a question on Roborace and autonomous driving in general

The relationship between Formula E and Roborace is a caretaker tenant relationship. Similar to the Porsche Supercup and F1. Formula E holdings have an asset of a track at events which they want to get more utilisation from to give fans a longer more diverse experience, do more with the track. Roborace is one of those things.

Wireless charging is fundamental to autonomous driving. An autonomous car has to use wireless charging; you can’t expect the technology to find a way to plug itself in.  Qualcomm can support this requirement, It forms part of the Qualcomm autonomous technology toolbox, with automotive snapdragon processor chips, neural networking learning chips, censoring technology that sits on the car, image recognition and computer vision, they are all research programmes that Qualcomm talk about regularly, then the connectivity challenge. Autonomous cars will require 4G and 5G connectivity to function so Qualcomm are looking at ways to support this. Qualcomm can provide these tools to the automotive manufacturers bringing this to the road or to activities such as Roborace. We provide the fundamental building blocks for autonomy, the car manufacturer comes along to utilise the ingredients to make the finished product.

My thanks to Qualcomm and Graeme Davison for taking the time to talk to JWGP on Formula E and the future of Qualcomm within the series.

You can follow Qualcomm on Twitter here and Graeme here.

I look forward to reconnecting with Graeme and the Qualcomm team in the near future to discuss in more detail plans for season 3 of Formula E.

Formula Student: Zero to 100 km/h in 1.5 second! A world record with an electric racing car.

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From 0 to100 km/h in 1.513 seconds: The student team from the ETH Zurich, which is supported by the BMW Group, has successfully broken the previous acceleration record for electric cars. Students of the ETH Zurich and Lucerne University developed the car and set the record during the preparatory phase of the Formula Student. The car reached a speed of 100 km/h within a distance of less than 30 metres on a military airbase near Zurich, breaking the world record of 1.779 seconds. Thanks to the use of carbon fibre materials, the car weights a mere 168 kilograms and features four self-developed wheel hub motors transferring 200 hp of power to the tarmac via four-wheel drive technology.

Thus, the team is ideally prepared for the forthcoming Formula Student Germany taking place on the Hockenheimring from 8 to 14 August 2016. For seven days, 115 teams from more than 25 nations will be competing against each other in their racing cars following a long period of development. In addition to bolides with combustion engines, 40 racing cars featuring an electric drive system will also be fighting for victory, which cannot be achieved by speed alone. Design, cost budgeting and the business model must also convince the jury of experts from industry and commerce.

Last year, the AMZ Racing Team from the ETH Zurich, which is supported by the BMW Group, was awarded second place in the overall ranking, making it one of the potential candidates for the podium this year, too.

Since the founding of the Formula Student in 2006, the BMW Group has been one of the main sponsors of the competition. Since 2010, the company has also supported young engineers as a team sponsor and will again put three teams from the Formula Student Electric (FSE) on the starting grid this year – municHMotorsport (Munich University), elbflorace (TU Dresden) and AMZ Racing (ETH Zurich).

In the process, the teams receive not only financial support, but also advice from BMW engineers and access to manufacturing technologies. For instance, on 28 July 2016, the BMW Group meets Formula Student Event will take place during the BMW Driving Experience in Maisach. In the course of this event, the teams have the opportunity to tune their cars down to the smallest detail and exchange ideas with their BMW Group mentors. They get final tips and tricks during driver training from proficient BMW Driving Experience instructors.

Moreover, the teams supported by the BMW Group receive comprehensive support in building and designing their self-developed racing cars. Employees acting as mentors are available to the students during the entire period.

Formula E: #Fanboost Fix?

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Accusations of teams fixing the Formula E #FanBoost system are emerging on social media today with Daniel Abt posting:

Calling out both the Renault eDAMs team and Dragon Racing for using automated ‘bots’ messages to artificially increase driver #Fanboost ranking ahead of the forthcoming Berlin ePrix.

Formula E modified the #Fanboost system for season two including social media messages through Twitter and Instagram in the count and leaving the count open for the opening laps of each race. The FIA and Formula E promoters have stated on numerous occasions that the Fanboost system can not be manipulated and all votes are genuine.

At the time of writing Dragon Racing’s Jérôme d’Ambrosio is leading the vote.

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To check for updates or post your own vote head to the Formula E homepage here

Formula E: Moscow ePrix Cancelled

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Formula E series organisers have today confirmed that the Moscow round of season 2 of the championship has been cancelled. Despite extensive negotiations it has not been possible agree terms around road closures and traffic management for the event.

The series have explored alternative locations to replace the Moscow round but owing to time constraints have elected to instead accept the cancellation and focus efforts on the remaining three rounds of the series in Berlin and the London double header.

Cancellation of the Moscow round will likely bring into question retention of the round in season three.

“While it is unfortunate news not to race in Moscow on June 4, we looked at a number of
alternative options as a replacement but were not able to find a viable solution on that specific date,”

said Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag.

“We explored all possibilities including returning to Monaco, but regrettably couldn’t organise the change of venue on such short notice. I’d like to express my thanks to HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Mr. Michel Boeri, and the Automobile Club de Monaco who did their utmost to see Formula E return to the streets of the Principality for season two. We will now focus on the three remaining races in Berlin and the double-header in London, which I’m sure will deliver a thrilling conclusion in the battle for the championship.”

Formula E: Renault partner the 2015/2016 FIA Formula E Championship’s Paris ePrix

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Renault will be a partner of the 2015/2016 FIA Formula E Championship’s Paris ePrix. The all-electric single-seater racing cars will compete around the French city’s famous Hôtel des Invalides monument on April 23.

Renault is a pioneer in the world of electric vehicles and, during the meeting, its Z.E. range will be displayed in the race’s ‘e-village’ which will be open to the general public and guests.

After winning the inaugural Teams’ title in 2014/2015, Renault e.dams currently tops the 2015/2016 standings and will be particularly keen to shine when the FIA Formula E Championship visits the streets of its home country’s capital.

Formula E: Avis talk Mahindra Formula E Team partnership and an EV future

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Ahead of the 3rd Round of the FIA Formula E 2015/16 Season in Punta del Este, Uruguay, JWGP spoke to Mahindra Formula E Team sponsor Avis about their involvement with the team and perspective on EV technology. Darren Peacock, Director of Brand Marketing EMEA, Avis Budget Group offers his insights:

Jon Wilde (JW): How did Avis come to be involved with the Mahindra Formula E team?

Darren Peacock (DP): Avis was introduced to the Mahindra Racing team through a corporate relationship that we had established. Avis recognised the potential of the sport and it generated a real enthusiasm with everyone who became involved with the negotiation.

JW: What initially attracted Avis to Formula E?

DP: Formula E’s ambitious global plans align with our own global footprint and commercial strategy. The championing of sustainability and clean energy was a refreshing and much needed angle in motor sport which matches our own vision of mobility in the future.

JW: What attracted Avis to Mahindra? Do you have any deals outside of Formula E?

DP: In Mahindra Racing we recognised a company who were not only committed to the sport but also developing automotive technology for everyday travellers

JW: Formula E have taken a very different approach to other racing categories in the way in which the series engages with fans, did this influence your decision to get involved with the series? Do you think it is paying off?

DP: FanBoost is a really unique aspect of the sport which puts fans at the heart of the sport which certainly appealed to us as an organisation which works hard to offer an unrivalled customer experience.

 

JW: Building on the EV (electric vehicle) agenda, how relevant is the technology and the cars to Avis now and in the future? Do Avis have EV’s in the company fleet already?

DP: EV technology is extremely important to the future of mobility and Avis is involved in a number of projects across the globe, in the UK we offer a Hybrid range while in Denmark we operate the largest Electric vehicle fleet for a car rental company in Europe and we continue to work with manufacturers on future developments.

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JW: Do Avis plan to increase motorsport sponsorship in future to cover other categories?

DP: At present Formula E is our current focus although we are constantly reviewing opportunities through our manufacturer partners.

JW: Does Formula E involvement represent good value for money in terms of consumer/ brand awareness?

DP: We partnered with Formula E towards the end of the 2014/15 season and so this year’s season will be our first full season to measure the performance of our sponsorship.

JW: Would you encourage other consumer facing companies to consider Formula E as a promotional platform?

DP: Obviously each company has to evaluate what property is relevant to their product or service.For a very new competition the sport has already attracted some of the most respected brands in the world so anyone who joins will be in good company. From a great start it is only going to grow in popularity especially amongst a younger audience.

JW: How would Avis like to see the category develop in the coming years? (additional venues,increased vehicle performance, increased vehicle differentiation)

DP: Given our global footprint at Avis with 5,450 rental station around the world we would love to see expansion to further markets. Expansion in to key territories including the Middle East would expand the sports appeal and customer base while meeting the strengths of our network.

JW: Have Avis looked at using the Mahindra Formula E team as a basis for business to business deals, for example something like AVIS and IHG (other Mahindra sponsor) offering fan packages for race events or as Mahindra supporters?

DP: As a travel specialist we consistently partner with other premium brands in the industry to provide added value to our customers. Specifically for Formula E we joined up with IHG to create a competition offering fans tickets to the last race of the season and accommodation with IHG. This attracted much interest so is something we are keen to repeat.

Thanks to Avis for this candid perspective on Formula E engagement, best of luck to the Mahindra team ahead of this weekends action.

To see more on the Mahindra Racing Formula E team click here

To check out the latest offers from Avis in your area click here