Tag Archives: FE

Formula One: Mercedes confirm Formula E intentions

Screen Shot 2016-10-04 at 12.03.49.png

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?

Advertisements

Formula E: Qualcomm on the perfect partnership

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 13.13.55.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 13.14.22

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?

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 13.14.10

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 One: Why Mumm Champagne chose Formula E over F1

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 20.58.13.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 21.00.12.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 20.53.59.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 20.51.11.png

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

Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 09.35.50.png

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 E: Scott Speed to stand in for Dario Franchitti in Mexico

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 18.42.11

Formula E podium finisher Scott Speed will be partof the championship’s world feed commentary team for round five of the series, which takes Speed, who is racing for the Andretti team in the Global Rallycross Championship, is standing in for Dario Franchitti, who is on IndyCar duty in St. Petersburg, Florida. Speed is a familiar face in the Formula E paddock, having competed in three races for Andretti in season one, which included a stunning second-place finish on his debut in Miami.

“I’m really excited about this opportunity and I think it will be a fun experience to see things from the other side of the camera,” Speed said. “I think Formula E is a great championship, which produces really exciting races, and I can’t wait to get involved in the build-up to the race in Mexico City!”

Speed is one of only two Americans to have raced in Formula E, with Marco Andretti being the other. The only Formula E race on United States soil takes place on April 2 at Long Beach.

To buy tickets for the Mexico and Long Beach ePrix click here

To watch highlights of Speed’s amazing drive to second in Miami click here

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

Renault_74737_global_en

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

MahindraAvis

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.

NickAvis

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

 

 

Formula One – Formula E: Jaguar confirm motorsport return with Williams Advanced Engineering

JagEV

Jaguar, in Partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering, earlier this morning confirmed their entry to the 2016/ 2017 FIA Formula E Championship.

Taking over the franchise, but not infrastructure,  vacated by the Trulli Formula E team, the team will acquire four new Dallara chassis and develop its over powertrain.

Entry into Formula E will coincide with Jaguar launching roadcar EV technology, which following the success of the C-X75 concept, will be a joint development again with Williams Advanced Engineering.

At this time Jaguar have not finalised details around the final team name, the livery, or driver line up, although representatives are keen to make clear the team will focus on the heritage of the Jaguar brand alongside new technologies

Jaguar’s entry into Formula E represents the brands first official participation in a single seater series since the sale of the Jaguar F1 team in 2004. The team that went on to become four time world champions Red Bull Racing.

FIA Formula E offers a unique opportunity for Jaguar Land Rover to develop its own future EV powertrain including motor and battery technology on the track, which will be seen in the brand’s future range of passenger vehicles. The team entry has been granted by Formula E and approved by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).
Craig Wilson, Managing Director of Williams Advanced Engineering, said; “There is a saying that racing improves the breed and Jaguar’s entry into Formula E will be a powerful way of honing a new generation of EV technologies for its products. We are delighted that they have chosen Williams Advanced Engineering as their technical partner in this new and high profile chapter in Jaguar’s racing history. Williams has extensive knowledge of EV technology, racing car design and the logistics of running a successful racing team so we are well set to support Jaguar in what promises to be an exciting new challenge for both parties.”
Nick Rogers, Group Engineering Director for Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Jaguar is proud to announce its return to racing. We’re at the forefront of pioneering technology. Over the next five years we will see more changes in the automotive world than in the last three decades. The future is more about being connected, electrification and lightweight architectures. Formula E enables us to engineer and test advanced technologies under extreme conditions.
“Formula E will provide genuine live testing for future electric vehicle powertrain technology, which will appear in our new range of vehicles. We are working with a number of partners on the future of electrification including Warwick University, battery suppliers and of course our long-term partners Williams. We will have our engineers embedded with Williams from the start and our innovations will directly affect future Jaguar Land Rover vehicles.”
James Barclay, Jaguar Team Director, said: “We looked in detail at alternative ways of returning to motorsport. This was such an important decision for Jaguar and we wanted to get it right.  With our future EV plans Formula E was the obvious choice and we believe that the benefits are enormous. The FIA and the promoter have exciting plans for the future of the championship and we are proud to be one of the first vehicle manufacturers to commit to the series with our own team. We have a lot of work to do ahead of the first race but it is a challenge we relish. We hope that we can welcome a new generation of fans to Jaguar through this exciting programme.”

Involvement of Williams Advanced Engineering in this project is a further demonstration on the diversification strategy of the Williams Group (Williams F1 Team) such developments strengthen the core of the business reducing any reliance on sponsorship. It should not be dismissed that Williams and Jaguar may look to further expand their partnership in future years, possibly towards Formula One.

Check out the video to celebrate the launch here:

 

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 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.