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Rome Thursday Notebook

Sam Smith’s Thursday Formula E notebook from the inaugural Rome E-Prix…

Photo: Formula E

***Virgin Racing is gearing up for its impending relationship with Audi next season, which e-racing365 revealed earlier this year. The Silverstone-based team, which will part with DS Automobiles after a three-season relationship in July, has already received what has been described to e-racing365 as “some information and data” from the German manufacturer “for preparatory purposes.” As a customer team Virgin will only have an official pre-season test and filming days at its disposal this summer for running its new package before the start of the 2018-19 season.

***Virgin is expected to officially announce a technical link-up with Audi in July. This is likely to coincide with DS Performance also making public its partnership with Techeetah which is believed to be an initial three-year deal.

***New Dragon Racing test driver Maximilian Guenther attended the Monteblanco test last month in his new role. The current Formula 2 driver however was unable to undertake his planned running after issues with the new car compromised the American team’s schedule.

***Max Biaggi is set to demonstrate a Formula E car on Saturday afternoon. The Roman will drive on the streets of his home city for the first time and will also be spending time at the Venturi team with whom he recently spent time at their Monaco base.

***Jean-Paul Driot returned to the Formula E paddock after missing the opening half of the season through illness. Driot will be back as the Renault team principal this weekend but told e-racing365 that he had “been too nervous to watch the races just via TV. I’ve always been like this,” he said.

***Cameras will be positioned on the gantries in the pits above the cars this weekend to further monitor drivers and teams during the car-swap pit stops. Teams are known to be unhappy with the way the stops are being policed since the removal of the minimum pit time.

**E-racing365 understands that teams will also face ‘spot-checks’ ahead of the car-swaps during the race to ensure teams are not using disposable strap devices which have been known to be used by at least Renault, Jaguar and NIO in recent races. The FIA now also has the capacity to use retrospective action via a new article within the International Sporting Code.

***Former Trulli Formula E driver Vitantonio Liuzzi will return to the paddock this weekend in the role of drivers’ advisor to the stewards. The Italian made five appearances for Trulli in Season 1 scoring a best result of ninth position in Berlin.

***Hans-Joachim Stuck will be the Chairman to the Stewards this weekend while permanent Race Director Scot Elkins returns to the series after missing Punta del Este to attended the birth of his child.

***Jean-Eric Vergne has been named as a special ambassador for the Dragon blockchain provider company which announced a partnership with Techeetah last month. Vergne visited China in his new role earlier this month.

***A significant delegation of VW board members is expected to attend the Berlin E-Prix next month. It remains to be seen whether new CEO Herbert Diess will be among this group. Diess is set to take over from previous incumbent Matthias Mueller, who also formerly served on the Supervisory Board of Porsche. Unlike Muller, Diess is not noted for his enthusiasm of motorsport.

***As well as the new Formula E car running for the first time in Berlin next month, the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY car could also make a first appearance with a demonstration run. More teams are also likely to be announced at Tempelhof, with at least one current Formula E team known to be close to a deal.

***The Rome E-Prix track, which is formally known as the Circuito Cittadino dell’EUR, is the second longest circuit on this season’s schedule after the Marrakesh track. Rome will also be the 40th ever Formula E race and is set to be held over 33 laps.

***Michelin’s Formula E program manager Serge Grisin thinks that the Rome circuit will deliver low-grip for the drivers on Saturday. “The surface features several different types of relatively ageing, crazed asphalt, so grip levels are likely to be low to very low, and the average speed is expected to be close to that seen in Paris,” said Grisin.

***Pedro de la Rosa, Techeetah’s new Sporting and Technical Advisor, is being reunited with Andre Lotterer 17 years after the two worked together at the Jaguar Formula 1 team. Lotterer, then a 19-year-old F3 rookie was understudy to the Spaniard at the team which later became Red Bull Racing. “Now the roles are reversed and it is me who is the new boy in the team,” de la Rosa told e-racing365.

***Rome is abuzz with sport this week as local football team AS Roma dramatically won through to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League soccer competition on Tuesday. Some players are expected in the paddock on Saturday as VIP guests. Roma takes on local rival Lazio on Sunday evening.

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 from 2014-17. Contact Sam



  1. Avatar

    Chris Llana

    April 12, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    Herbert Diess is enthusiastic about electric cars, if not traditional motorsports, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he shows up for the Berlin ePrix.

    • Avatar

      Old Trombone

      April 13, 2018 at 10:22 am

      5 years ago at BMW Diess advocated for extreme low-rev gas and diesel engines, arguing that friction was inefficient, which it is. This engineer is a free thinker. I hope his previous reticence for Motorsport was because of his experiences with Bernie in F1 2000-2008, a period in which Bernie’s favoritism for soccer stars was foisted upon an engineering sport, which by 2008 had absolutely nothing to do with improving mobility tech.

  2. Avatar


    April 13, 2018 at 1:22 am

    What’s the disposable strap device?

    • Avatar

      Old Trombone

      April 13, 2018 at 10:23 am

      It’s for McNish and Franchitti’s friend Jock.

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