Category Archives: FE

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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F2, F3, F4: Erreà Sport join Prema

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Italian clothing Manufacturer Erreà Sport continue their rapid growth throughout Motorsport with the announcement of a new partnership with Prema for 2017 and beyond.

Joining the ranks of the Sauber F1 Team, Mahindra Formula E team, & Manor Endurance Racing, this new partnership will see Erreà Sport represented across F1, F2, F3, F4, Formula E, and the World Endurance Championship, with further partnerships in motorsport in development.

Fans of Erreà Sport in motorsport can find the online store for the Sauber F1 Team and Mahindra Formula E team though this link. Highlights of the Prema and Manor Endurance Team collection will be made available in the coming weeks.

The 2017 Prema team wear collection is a result of coming together of minds between the Prema and Erreà Sport design teams. The collection reflects the teams Italian heritage and team history, alongside ensuring functionality for the team in races around the world.

Commenting on the partnership René Rosin, Team Principal, remarked:
“We are proud to partner an excellent Italian company like Erreà for what is expected to be a particularly demanding season. Like in all professional sports, also in racing every single component can make a difference and Errea, to whom we will entrust our personnel, will definitely be a key component of the team”.

Errea Sport Chairman Angelo Gandolfi added:
“We are delighted for this new and prestigious partnership. Prema and Erreà share the same values and represent a dynamic, efficient and determined combination, looking forward to score great results in the upcoming season. We worked hard together with the team in order to provide them with all the support they need to keep pushing the limits forward.”

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To keep up to date on  Prema through the 2017 season in motorsport you can follow them on Twitter here.

Formula E: Omologato join Mahindra Racing

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Indian Formula E Team Mahindra Racing have announced a new partnership with British watch manufacturer Omologato. This new partnership will see Omologato branding feature extensively on the M3Electro, on drivers Nick Heidfeld and Felix Rosenqvist’s gloves and within the team environment with Omologato wall clocks.

Within the partnership Omologato have  designed a unique Mahindra Racing timepiece collection, which can be found here. Omologato believe “everyone should have a watch with a story” as such they have positioned their products at a price which the everyday motorsport fan can afford. Omologato and Mahindra Racing set out to engage with their fans and followers with this partnership, combining a mutual passion for motorsport with a desire to pioneer new concepts and enhance awareness of Formula E in new markets.

 

Commenting on the new partnership Dilbagh Gill, Team Principal, Mahindra Racing Formula E Team remarked, “We are delighted to welcome Omologato into the Mahindra Racing family. The Omologato brand is highly regarded in the motorsport community; we both share the same passion for delivering exciting motor racing and heritage to fans across the globe. We look forward to engaging with fans at Omologato events and having their logo on our cars from the next race in Mexico City.”

Shami Kalra, Founder of Omologato added, “We are delighted to become an Official Partner of the Mahindra Racing Formula E Team in one of the world’s most forward-thinking sports championships. We welcomed the challenge of designing these special timepieces for the team to take to iconic cities across the globe. One of our aims at Omologato is to give motorsport enthusiasts the chance to immerse themselves in motorsport, through our chronographs and our #ChronosAndCars events. This exciting partnership will give Omologato fans the opportunity to get closer to the Mahindra Racing Formula E Team.”  

To check out the Omologato Mahindra Racing collection follow this link

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Formula One: Mercedes brand alignment

 

In amongst new driver announcements, car launch dates, eRacing, and calender shuffling, the eagle eyed motorsport fan may have noticed a small but significant change in the name above the door of the current Formula One Constructors Champions over the Christmas period.

Since January 1st 2017, the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team has been re-branded Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport. In contacting the team the rationale for the change was explained as a move to harmonise the team with the overall strategic direction of the business. The team went on to explain the change does not necessarily indicate plans for the Brackley based team to expand into other categories, but that the team would not rule out this happening at some point in the future.

With a notice of intent offered to Formula E having been made by the Mercedes Grand Prix in 2016, in effect granting them first refusal on the final team slot in the championship, the harmonisation of Mercedes Motorsport branding could signal team preparations to enter the championship. Another factor to consider could be the rumoured budget cap set to be implemented across Formula One. Mercedes Grand Prix employ over 1200 staff, the salary bill alone could exceed the budget for running a team in future. Diversification of the team into other racing categories would serve to increase Mercedes brand awareness and maintain it’s commitment to the motorsport industry in the UK.

Mercedes’ positions in DTM & GT racing, logically, could also be housed under a single Motorsport entity, possibly located in the UK.

Formula One: Bem-vindo a casa Felipe!

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In what may be one of the shortest retirements in recent Formula One history, Williams Martini Racing have confirmed the Felipe Massa will return to the Grove based team for the 2017 season.

Following earlier confirmation that Pascal Wehrlien will join the Sauber F1 Team for 2017, Valterri Bottas’ path to join Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes AMG Petronas is now clear freeing up the seat alongside Lance Stroll at Williams for Felipe Massa in 2017.

Speaking about the announcement Felipe Massa said; “Firstly, I am very happy to have an opportunity to return to Williams. I always intended to race somewhere in 2017, but Williams is a team close to my heart and I have respect for everything it is trying to achieve. Valtteri has a great opportunity, given the turn of events over the winter, and I wish him all the best at Mercedes.

“In turn, when I was offered the chance to help Williams with their 2017 Formula One campaign, it felt like the right thing to do. I certainly have not lost any of my enthusiasm for racing and I’m extremely motivated to be coming back to drive the FW40. The support from my fans over the last few weeks has been a huge boost and I’m grateful for that. I also look forward to working with Lance; I’ve known him for many years and seen his talent develop during that time, so I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together.”

Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal, said; “I’m delighted that Felipe has agreed to come out of retirement to be a part of our 2017 campaign. With Valtteri having a unique opportunity to join the current Constructors’ Champions, we have been working hard to ensure that an agreement could be made with Mercedes to give Valtteri this fantastic opportunity.

“Valtteri has been part of the Williams family since 2010 and in that time has proved a huge talent, securing nine podium finishes. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him on behalf of the whole team, and wish him a successful season as he joins Mercedes.

“Felipe has always been a much-loved member of the Williams family, and having the opportunity to work with him again is something we all look forward to. He was always going to race somewhere in 2017, as he has not lost that competitive spirit, and it was important that we had a strong replacement in order for us to let Valtteri go. Felipe re-joining us provides stability, experience and talent to help lead us forward. He is a great asset for us.”

With the 2017 F1 regulations changes set to be the most significant in decades, Williams have been keen to ensure an experienced driver lines up alongside F1 Rookie Lance Stroll.

It is understood Felipe walked away from opportunities within Formula E in order to return to Formula One. Felipe has returned to the team with a single season agreement.

Formula One: Jean Todt joins Twitter

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President of Motorsports Governing Body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), Jean Todt had kicked off 2017 by joining Twitter!

The account, whilst currently not verified, appears to be genuine with the President’s first two tweets coming from a BMW Autonomous driving demonstration at CES in Las Vegas and the Formula E Visa Vegas eRace over the weekend.

 

At this time Jean Todt, or those managing the account on his behalf, are not following any other users on the social media platform seemingly opting to use it to communicate on events attended rather than engage directly. This approach may evolve in the coming weeks and months as the full 2017 motorsport season commences.

During 2017 Jean Todt’s second term as president of the FIA will come to a conclusion. No formal comment has been made with respect to plans to seek re-election, nor have any alternative candidates been mentioned. It had been speculated that Jean Todt would not seek a re-election for the unpaid position following his appointment as  Special Envoy for Road Safety to the UN.

You can follow Jean Todt on Twitter here.

Formula E: Jean Eric Vergne in profile

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2016 Shivraj Gohil / Spacesuit Media

Back in November I had the good fortune to attend the Marrakesh ePrix with the Techeetah Formula E Team and Jean Eric Vergne. Marrakesh played host to the second round of the 2016/ 2017 Championship and gave me my first behind the scenes experience of an ePrix weekend.

At 26 years old, you would still consider Jean Eric Vergne to be a young driver, so when you take a look back at his career in motorsport it’s incredible to think of what he has already achieved. As with many successful drivers, Jean Eric’s career started in Karting. At the age of just 4 years old he first got behind the wheel at his fathers karting circuit on the outskirts of Paris. At the age of 10 he entered his first competition and went on to become a junior French champion in 2001. He continued in karting competing in the European Championship and others until 2007 when he graduated to Formula Renault

Driving for Formula Campus, Vergne won the championship with ease securing 10 podium finishes from 13 races. His performance attracted the attention of the Red Bull Junior team, who navigated his career through the British Formula 3 Championship with Carlin where he won 12 races in 24 events securing the championship with 6 races remaining. Alongside his British F3 outings he also competed in GP3 and in 2010 Red Bull promoted Jean Eric to Formula Renault 3.5. A championship he secured his first win after only 3 races in the championship. He took the championship fight down to the wire and whilst ultimately lost out to another competitor, his skills in the championship were enough for Red Bull to bring him into Formula One initially in a test capacity then joining the Toro Rosso team as a driver in 2012.

Reaching Formula One can be the pinnacle of any drivers sporting career. From the very outset Jean Eric’s pace with Toro Rosso was unquestionable. More often than not Jean Eric would be found ahead of his teammates on the track, unfortunately he found himself in a situation of wrong place at the wrong time. Poor reliability  left Jean Eric seemingly trailing his team mates Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kyvat at the wrong time. Resulting in him being overlooked for the Red Bull Racing drive

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2016 Shivraj Gohil / Spacesuit Media

Despite these stumbling blocks, for which many insiders say were no fault of Jean Eric’s, 2015 saw him transition to Formula E with the Andretti team. The Frenchman instantly found a new home in the series setting pole on his debut in Uruguay. JEV went on to complete the season with Andretti and for season 2 moved to the DS Virgin Racing Team.  A team which with the freedoms offered to teams as the championship found its feet took an alternative approach to technical gearing and power delivery compromising the team’s ability to consistently compete at the front of the grid.

For Season Three Jean Eric Vergne has become part of the newly formed Techeetah Formula E team, a team built on the foundations of the Aguri team with power unit supply from championship leading Renault. Edmund Chu, Techeetah Team President on Jean Eric joining the team commented:

We are tremendously excited to have Jean Eric on board. He has a great experience in the upper echelons of racing and his experience in F1 and FE is going lend itself to us as being a competitive team.”

During pre-season testing Jean Eric showed the pace fans had become accustomed to in his early career, topping the time sheets on 5 of 6 days. Pace at the Hong Kong ePrix gave indications of the team and driver pairing potential, unfortunately with the team still familiarising themselves with their new surroundings the ultimate result did not quite meet expectations.

Bringing us full circle Marrakesh. Meeting Jean Eric on the eve of the ePrix the Frenchman comes across as relaxed and engaging. The characteristics of the circuit, look set to suit the Techeetah team, something Jean Eric demonstrated in shakedown testing setting the 3rd fastest time.

As we head into race day the air of quite confidence resumes, something which Jean Eric manages to carry all the way through qualifying, bringing his car into the super pole session setting the fastest time during the group sessions. Unfortunately, team teething troubles strike again leaving JEV unable to repeat his earlier efforts and he heads into the race starting P5, which later becomes P4 as Buemi is hit with a post qualifying penalty.

Between qualifying and the race Jean Eric and the rest of the grid compete in an eRace in preparation for the $1 Million eRace taking place in Vegas in the new year. Whist the crowds in Marrakesh are smaller than some may have hoped the fans that are at the circuit flock towards Jean Eric at any opportunity and relish this chance to meet their hero.

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2016 Dan Bathie / Spacesuit Media

Heading into the race as we circulate the grid Jean Eric has a quiet confidence about his ability to turn his P4 into something special. Early race performances vindicate this confidence with JEV moving into a strong P2 ahead of the car swaps. Then disaster, the pit lane speed limiter fails and JEV incurs a drive through penalty. Whilst able to recover and score vital points for the team. Jean Eric is left feeling as though a possible victory has been snatched from his grasp.

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2016 Shivraj Gohil / Spacesuit Media

After such a challenging result you might expect Jean Eric to be frustrated, and there is no doubt he is, not so much for losing a race win, but because he knows the team can do better. After a few hours debriefing, Jean Eric puts the race behind him, firmly resetting focus towards the next race. He is commitment undiminished, Formula E is his home. A home in which he is determined to win.

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 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 One: Mahindra Leading the Way

 

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Ahead of this weekend’s Formula E action from the streets of Paris, the Mahindra Formula E team have continue to put Formula One teams to shame was a flurry of new technical partners and concepts.

Coupled with the opening of the Formula E tender for the sesaon five update of the series chassis, Mahindra have partnered with Pininfarina to develop and release these stunning concept images of a possible future for the next generation of Formula E machinery.

Chief Creative Officer of Pininfarina Fabio Filippini commented:

“Formula E is one of the most exciting signs of the changes underway in the automotive world as well as in motor racing. Its success is the proof. Exercising our creativity on these sketches allowed us to imagine the evolution of this formula. A possible contribution of Pininfarina to the future development of a Formula E car would be a highly motivating challenge, fully consistent with our mission of creators and innovators in the automotive field”.

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Further more, Mahindra earlier today announced a new partnership with Magneti Marelli, who are already working on the team’s season 3 powertrain.

Those working in the world of Formula One must be asking themselves how Formula E continue to attract such blue chip partners. On the Magneti Marelli partnership Dilbagh Gill, Team Principal of Mahindra Racing Formula E Team said,

“We are thrilled to announce thispartnership here in Paris. Mahindra Racing has developed a very strong relationship with Magneti Marelli over the past few months while developing our powertrain for the next season.”

“As an established EV manufacturer and an FIA Formula E manufacturer, we have a mandate to drive the future of EV technology, and that begins with developing the most innovative ideas and components.”

“We have found a shared ambition in Magneti Marelli and we look forward to the first test of the M3Electro. Mahindra Racing also welcomes Magneti Marelli as a commercial partner and we are proud to display their branding on our car for the last five races of this season and into season three.”

Roberto Dalla, Motorsport Director at Magneti Marelli said,

“We are proud of the partnership with the Mahindra Racing Formula E Team in the very important and challenging FIA Formula E Championship. Magneti Marelli has brought innovative technologies to multiple racing categories. Formula E allows us to exploit our knowledge in strategic components for hybrid and electric propulsion.”

“Performance, efficiency and reliability are going to be key elements to race in season three and we believe that thesolution developed with Mahindra Racing will be able to demonstrate the capabilities of Mahindra and Magneti Marelli which will help the team to be successful in the FIA Formula E Championship.”

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Mahindra Racing aims to stimulate and curate a conversation on the future form and next generation technology of Formula E, encouraging fans to share their thoughts on these designs on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #FormulaEConcepts.