Category Archives: FE

Formula E: Oliver Rowland to stand in for injured Nick Heidfeld

Oliver

Formula Renault 3.5 Champion Oliver Rowland has been announced to replace Nick Heidfeld for the third round of the FIA Formula E Championship in Punta del Este, Uruguay. The 23 year old British driver will partner Bruno Senna at the team while Nick Heidfeld recovers from minor hand surgery following an injury sustained during the Putrajaya ePrix.

Nick Heidfeld said: “During the Putrajaya ePrix, I damaged a ligament in my left wrist when the steering wheel snapped out of my hand. On the advice of my doctors, I have undergone an operation to repair it. Unfortunately this means that I will miss the next race in Punta del Este but I wish the team well and hope they return from Uruguay with a Christmas stocking full of points.”

Rowland, who set a new record of eight wins in the 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 Series season will join the Mahindra Racing Formula E Team for a simulator session before travelling to Uruguay for the ePrix. He will also take part in the official Formula E test following the Punta del Este ePrix to continue the development of the Mahindra Racing M2Electro racing car.

Oliver Rowland said: “After a successful year, I am excited to have this opportunity to extend my season further and race the M2Electro. Formula E represents many aspects of the future of motorsport and it gained huge traction in the first season. It has one of the most competitive driver line-ups and I am looking forward to some close racing among them and I hope to show what I can do. It will be a steep learning curve to get to grips with the new electric racing technology but I’m sure that once the visor goes down, we will have some fun. I intend to make the most of this opportunity and extract the maximum out of the car. Thank you to Mahindra Racing for the opportunity and I wish Nick Heidfeld a quick recovery.”

Dilbagh Gill, CEO and Team Principal of Mahindra Racing Formula E Team said: “We are delighted that we have Oliver in the car for the race in Uruguay. It is a huge shame that Nick will miss a race following his surgery and we have sought the very best young talent to continue the strong momentum that Nick has established with the team and the development of the M2Electro. Oliver is a driver of proven, record-
breaking skill and has exactly the drive and attitude we appreciate at Mahindra Racing. We wish Nick well and look forward to seeing him back behind the wheel in Buenos Aires.”

Formula One: #placesalonsowouldratherbe how Hilton not F1 got it wrong.

 

#placesalonsowouldratherbe

 

F1 news over the past 48 hours has been dominated with journalists commenting on how Formula One Management should wake up to social media and could have capitalised on the viral event that was #placesalonsowouldratherbe. In many respects the comments are correct; the viral event demonstrated that there is a quick thinking well humoured proportion of the F1 community with impressive photo editing skills. To have this level of engagement is something Formula One Management should be proud of and embrace. Perhaps, for example, through a 3 part competition run by sponsor Tata Communications (@tata_comm) evaluating the graphical content and future broadcast plans for the sport.

Putting the viral event into perspective, #placesalonsowouldratherbe saw 14,500 imprints on twitter; this is less than 15% of the total number of imprints from #BrazilGP, the event specific naming convention used by the Formula One twitter feed. Taking this a step further the Formula One Qualifying broadcast will likely have been seen by an audience of at least 20,000,000 people (a very conservative number even taking into consideration the current decline in F1 viewing figures) this would mean that 0.07% of the F1 audience participated in this viral event. Is this really an audience the Formula One Management Twitter feed should be seeking to capitalise on?

I’ve read a number of articles commenting that other sports or racing series do a far better job than Formula One on engaging with fans through social media, and whilst it can be argued that prior to the 2015 season this would be accurate it is no longer correct. The Formula One Twitter feed serves as an information point, providing exclusive pre and post-race content. It does not engage in conversation with followers, fans or teams, and why would it? Would it be an effective use of resources? I have read comments that Formula E and other racing series do a better job at engaging with their fan base through social media, on this point I disagree. The main twitter feed for Formula E operates in the same way as the Formula One feed. On occasion the individual maintaining the feed will acknowledge or respond to messages, but only in an informative style and this can only be achieved due to scale of the audience. The reputation Formula E has with respect to social media is borne out of the team and sponsor engagement.

Again some perspective @F1 has 1.68M followers on twitter, @FIAFormulaE has 76K followers on twitter. It is not realistic to expect Formula One Management to engage with fans in the same way Formula E can, the resource requirement is not realistic. @SauberF1Team has over 300K followers (the smallest of any F1 team) @AmlinAndretti has 13K followers (the most of any Formula E team) it is not realistic to expect the same level of engagement from teams in each series.

In my opinion, the #placesalonsowouldratherbe viral event served to demonstrate a failing not from @F1 but from that of @MclarenF1 and its sponsors. Many Formula One team sponsors have taken to live tweeting during on-track action, commenting on events as they unfold, commonplace with feeds such as Mobil’s @Grid1TV, or on the progress of their respective team or drivers seen with Force India F1 team sponsor @hypeenergy for example. I understand there are restrictions on the usage of team branding without agreement for fear or misrepresenting the team brand or ethos but imagine if the Hilton Group had taken the #placesalonsowouldratherbe viral event and placed Alonso in the lobby of their flagship hotel, or if they turned the hashtag into a discount code for online bookings.

For me the failing of the #placesalonsowouldratherbe viral was that sponsors did not react quickly enough. Perhaps it is time for the teams, not F1, to further adapt to social media. Give sponsors a freedom to engage in a way they believe their followers will respond.

 

 

As a side note, the image of Alonso used in this article, in every #placesalonsowouldratherbe tweet and subsequent article is the property of FOM. It was taken from their broadcast feed. FOM would be entirely within their rights to pursue copyright infringement cases for each use. The F1 of old may have taken this approach. F1 has is embracing social media.

Formula E: Di Grassi keeps his cool to win in Putrajaya

putrajaya_news

Lucas di Grassi claimed his second FIA Formula E Championship win in a race at Putrajaya in Malaysia that was packed with incident from start to finish.

Even before the race had started Stephane Sarrazin was in trouble as his Venturi cut out on the dummy grid. With the Frenchman unable to take up his place on the front row alongside the Julius Baer Pole Position winner Sebastien Buemi, the start had to be delayed as he was pushed to the back of the field.

With no one directly alongside him, Buemi had a clear run into the first corner, and as was the case in the season-opener in Beijing, the Renault e.dams driver pulled away into a comfortable lead. But this would be no back-to-back win for the Swiss, as his car ground to a halt as the race neared its mid-way point.

With Buemi’s car stopped on track, the team opted to pit his team-mate Nicolas Prost as this point, as he had also been suffering with his car cutting out. The early pitstop ensured the Frenchman took over the lead after the mid-race car swaps took place, but as he had to make his energy last for longer than his rivals, combined with his car troubles he was unable to prevent the trailing pack from passing him.

Di Grassi took over in second following the pitstop phase, but only because Dragon Racing’s Loic Duval suffered an over-long stop. The Frenchman had briefly held the lead following Buemi’s troubles, but was now behind not only di Grassi but the impressive Team Aguri car of Antonio Felix da Costa too.

As Prost struggled with his car cutting out, di Grassi made his move for the lead. Behind them Da Costa and Duval entertainingly disputed third. Eventually both found a way by the Renault e.dams and Duval started to close in on the leader. But when a damper broke in the suspension of his car, his great run was ended and di Grassi was left unpressured at the front and duly collected the win.

“You can see how difficult the conditions were with the amount of sand I have in my eye, the amount of sand I have in the car,” he admitted. “It was an extremely tough race, mainly determined by battery temperature. But gladly we managed it better than the others, we did a fantastic job. The team in the background did a perfect job with the strategy and we managed to claim the victory and I’m now the leader in the championship.”

After a mistake in qualifying and a brush with the wall, DS Virgin’s Sam Bird started back in 14th. But the 2014 Putrajaya ePrix winner has an affinity with the circuit, and while those around him were having troubles he was able to concentrate on driving his own race, staying out of trouble and when Jerome D’Ambrosio crashed out of second place for Dragon on the final lap, the Brit inherited the runner-up spot.

“I’m absolutely chuffed,” he beamed. “This one is for the boys at Virgin – I don’t think that too many people know that before the race we were down in the dumps because I didn’t think we were going to finish the race because we only had one battery in the car. The Virgin boys fixed the car so quick, this is for the Virgin boys! If people don’t say Formula E is exciting, then I think they didn’t watch that race. It was carnage, but cool carnage. It’s a series that people should watch because that’s fantastic racing, it’s unreal.”

Da Costa’s great run for Aguri ended when his car cut-out too, which handed a podium finish to Andretti’s Robin Frijns. However, the Dutchman was exceptionally fortunate to finish the race after clouting the wall as he made a passing move on the hobbled Duval.

Even though the suspension and steering were deranged, he somehow kept the car pointing in the right direction and crawled over the line for his first Formula E podium.

“I felt like I was a rally driver!” he exclaimed. “Duval had a problem in front of me and he also had a suspension failure. I overtook him before Turn 9 and I went in just a bit too quick and there was a lot of rubber and dirt. I was on it and I saw the wall coming and I said, ‘this is it, it’s over’. It was quite a big hit and the rear was completely bent, the steering was totally not straight any more. Right corners were fine but in left corners I really had to take it easy. But I’m surprised how strong the Formula E car is.”

Despite his problems at the start Sarrazin came through to fourth, while Bruno Senna took fifth for Mahindra Racing. Da Costa managed to get his car restarted and came home sixth, while Daniel Abt finished seventh for Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport.

Nelson Piquet Jr was again a FanBoost winner and kept out of trouble to score his first points of the season for NEXTEV TCR in eighth, while Nick Heidfeld finished ninth despite having been tipped into a spin at the first corner following a three-way tussle with Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Virgin Racing) who was eliminated on the spot and Jacques Villeneuve (Venturi).

Prost picked up the final point in 10th, while Buemi had the consolation of securing the Visa Fastest Lap and two bonus points.

After one of the most eventful races in Formula E’s short history, the teams and drivers now have a well-earned break before the series resumes in the amazing beachside setting of Punta del Este on December 19.

Formula E: Julius Bär extend Global partnership agreement

JuliasBaer

Formula E has today announced that Julius Bär, the leading Swiss private banking group, will remain as the championship’s Global Partner till the end  of season five.Julius Bär, who joined Formula E as a Global Partner prior to the inaugural Beijing ePrix last year, share similar values to the fully-electric series such as innovation, sustainability and forward-looking pioneering spirit.

Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E, said: “I am delighted that Julius Bär remains the Global Partner of the FIA Formula E Championship until the end of season five in 2019. This long-term partnership highlights Julius Baer’s continuous support and commitment for the series and shows that we share common values of innovation and sustainable mobility.”

Boris F.J. Collardi, Chief Executive Officer of Julius Bär, commented on the extension of the partnership: “After the success of the inaugural championship, Julius Bär is very proud to extend its commitment to support the FIA Formula E Championship as the exclusive Global Partner until 2019. Since the beginning of the partnership Julius Baer and Formula E have shared common values such as innovation, sustainability and forward-looking pioneering spirit.

We look forward to continue to adhere to these values and to share a vision of a world with more sustainable means of transport with our stakeholders and clients.”Speaking about the addition of the Hong Kong ePrix on the calendar in season three, KavenLeung, Deputy Region Head Asia Pacific & CEO North Asia at Julius Bär, added: “It is wonderful to bring the FIA Formula E Championship to Hong Kong in 2016, which really shows the attraction of this international city. Not only does the tournament’s pioneering spirit meet our business and brand needs in a key market like Hong Kong, it is also an effective platform for us to engage with the communities in which we operate.”

Opinion: Julius Bär extending this agreement is testament to level of confidence Formula E Management have managed to instil around the series. It should be noted the value of the agreement has not been documented in public, this could be interpreted in numerous ways most of which are positive for the series. It can be expected Julius Bär are providing the series with the services is would offer to clients and using Formula E as a basis for business to business engagements. Formula E represents an appealing cornerstone to a private banking portfolio. 

Julius Bär will no doubt play a key role in Formula E’s ambition for to achieve stock listing in the near future.