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Diriyah Wednesday Notebook

Sam Smith’s first notebook from the ABB FIA Formula E Championship paddock in Diriyah…

Photo: Jerome Cambier/2EP/Michelin

***Teams will get a detailed update on the current socio-political situation in Santiago at the team principals’ meeting tomorrow afternoon. The fluid situation is still being carefully monitored by Formula E Operations as freight bound for the Chile race is set to be prepared and sent from Diriyah in Saudi Arabia next week.

***It was originally thought that Punta Del Este in Uruguay could again be a direct and last-minute substitute for Santiago, but a lack of hotel space correlating with the beach resort city’s holiday season makes it an unlikely option.

***E-racing365 understands that one other option is a potential doubleheader event in New York in July to fill out the calendar should a viable replacement not be found.

***The FIA’s Frederic Bertrand has told e-racing365 that a future night race in Formula E would be looked upon favorably if it was arranged and held sustainably. Formula E looked at the potential of opening the 2019-20 season with such an event in Diriyah but ultimately chose not to pursue it.

“I think everyone would like it, but the timing of the Formula E race is very particular so we need to be sure that we can find the place where it suits,” said Bertrand.

“I would say if it was proposed we would consider it one hundred percent, but we need to have behind that something which is sustainable. I agree that it could be interesting, very interesting.”

***Formula E held a secret trial of virtual advertising for cars at the Valencia test last month. The tests were conducted with Formula E’s TV production operation which utilizes a combination of Aurora Media and North One. Similar virtual advertising technology is used in other sports including football, golf and horse racing.

***James Calado’s Jaguar I-Type4 was found to have monocoque damage after his Valencia accident last month with the tub being changed before shipping to the opening round of the season this weekend.

***New DS Techeetah signing Antonio Felix da Costa was only told of Pedro de la Rosa’s exit from the team once he had signed. Along with other senior members, the former DS Techeetah technical and sporting manager was instrumental in acquiring the Portuguese driver.

“He [De La Rosa] told me [he was leaving] once I’d signed,” Da Costa told e-racing365. “He was a pivotal character in making me a part of this team and I love Pedro. I have a massive amount of respect for him as a driver and as a person. I was very sad to hear that he would go but his phone is always available.”

***The FIA has given some provision to the extra two cars on the Formula E grid this season. For the first time in the championship’s history, a field of 24 cars is set to take to the start. The FIA is looking at each individual track to make allowance for some starting positions.

***Several Formula E tracks have seen irregular grid formations with cars sometimes lined up around kinks or corners. The Rome, Marrakesh and Sanya races all feature such traits. Each Formula E circuit can employ repeater lights and has access to two sets so they can be staggered.

***James Rossiter will continue in his role with DS Techeetah as test and development driver for a third consecutive season. Rossiter has been an integral part of the team’s development program and will continue to both track and sim test for the squad throughout the coming season.

***Audi GT3 racer Mattia Drudi will perform simulator duties for Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler this season. E-racing365 revealed in August that Drudi had performed a track test with the team at Varano during private development running.

***Esteban Gutierrez has been confirmed as a test and reserve driver for the Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E team this season. The Mexican former F1 driver sampled the German manufacturer’s test car at Majorca in August and is expected to attend several E-Prix events next year.

***The TAG-Heuer Porsche Formula E team was one of only three teams that did not run after the Valencia test last month. Team manager Amiel Lindesay told e-racing365 that it was planned for Porsche to concentrate on reliability and development testing at the front end of 2019.

“We used all our days pre-Valencia because being a new manufacturer we wanted to sign-off things early which meant getting on track in March,” said Lindesay. “We want to be reliable in the first year; this was a big focus early on for us.”

***The long, unconventional corners of the Valencia circuit had some relevancy for teams because of their similarities to the tracks in Marrakesh and Berlin, according to Jaguar tech chief Phil Charles.

“I don’t want to go into too many details but you might try something that is low and stiff that you normally wouldn’t run at a track where you are hitting curbs and trying to ride rough tarmac,” he told e-racing365. “So Valencia is useful and relevant to some things at least.”

***Stoffel Vandoorne visited Jakarta earlier this month and met with the city’s governor Anies Baswedan. The Mercedes EQ Formula E Team driver attended the function with Formula 2 racer Sean Gelael who is the country’s most prominent active race car driver. The inaugural Jakarta E-Prix will take place on June 6.

***The Audi Group announced its third-quarter financial figures recently. The German manufacturer stated revenue of €41.3 billion ($45.7 billion US), an operating profit of €3.2 billion ($3.5 billion US) and an operating return on sales of 7.8 percent.

Audi’s Chief Financial Officer Alexander Seitz said: “2019 will not be a record year, but the Audi Group is in a solid position” and that the company was “steering the Audi Group solidly through a year of adverse factors”.

*** Markus Duesmann has been named as the new Audi CEO and will take up his position next April. Duesmann will succeed Bram Schot, who has held the position since June 2018. Schot will leave the Group at the end of March by mutual agreement.

***Mahindra Racing has announced that a tree will be planted for every Fanboost vote received by the team’s drivers Pascal Wehrlein and Jerome D’Ambrosio. The move is to promote fans having a direct and positive impact on the environment by voting for free when Fanboost opens for the opening round this week.

***The next FIA Women in Motorsport ‘Girls on Track’ event takes place at Diriyah this weekend. The series of innovative and educational challenges is aimed at inspiring girls between the ages of eight and 18. Click here for more details on registration.

***ABB will continue supply specially modified Terra 53 DC chargers to the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY teams throughout the championship’s second season. The company developed the chargers to be more compact and portable, making them easier to freight and to able to meet the transportation requirements for the series schedule.

***ABB today released an infographic explaining the details of the charging system:

Image: ABB

Sam Smith is e-racing365's Formula E Editor. A 20-year veteran in motorsports media, including press officer roles in both the FIA Sportscar Championship and at Lola Group, Smith is a well-known face in the Formula E paddock, where he served as series editor for Motorsport.com from 2014-17. Contact Sam

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