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Rome Thursday Notebook

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

Photo: Nissan

***An E-Prix in Japan is being pursued with renewed vigor after senior Formula E staff visited the country directly after last month’s Sanya E-Prix to discuss a possible Season Seven race with a suitable venue.

***The city of Yokohama has long been considered a favorite to host a race. E-racing365 understands that an event held close to the Nissan Motors headquarters in the port area and near the Katabira River is under consideration for 2020-21.

***E-racing365 understands that next season will still see two customer powertrain supplied teams. The number of manufacturers is set to rise to ten with Mercedes and Porsche joining.

***Envision Virgin Racing will continue as an Audi customer for a second season, while HWA Racelab, which currently uses Venturi powertrains, will become Mercedes-Benz EQ.

***Alex Lynn got his first experience of a Gen 2 car at Mallory Park last week when he took the wheel of Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s development car during a film day, conducting the maximum 50 km (31 miles) of running.

***Mahindra tested at Calafat last week as Pascal Wehrlein and Jerome d’Ambrosio both got mileage in running which contributed to the team’s 15 days of manufacturer testing allocation. The team created an artificially wet track surface as part of its test program.

***DS Techeetah also tested at the track separately last week running some aspects of its 2019-20 powertrain. Both Andre Lotterer and Jean-Eric Vergne took turns at the wheel of its development car.

***Jake Hughes is spending the Rome E-Prix weekend “embedded” within HWA Racelab, according to team principal Ulrich Fritz.

***Hughes will compete with the team in this year’s FIA Formula 3 Championship. The 24-year-old Brit sampled Gen 2 machinery with NIO at the Marrakesh rookie test in January.

***Jaguar’s Mitch Evans believes that overtaking on the Rome track could be even more difficult than it proved at the inaugural event last year.

***Evans told e-racing365 that “it’s going to be slightly less energy saving compared to last year so I expect slightly less overtaking but I hope I’m wrong. There’s a lot of corners here, so we can regen a lot and save the energy a lot compared to other circuits.”

***Paddock rumors continue to circulate about teams using extra engineering resources in and around circuits this season. Teams are allocated a specific number of 20 operational passes but are believed to bring additional engineering staff to races to work remotely.

***E-racing365 has been told that several entries have had staff members working from hotel rooms at races this season with the personnel being connected digitally to both the on-site engineering teams and the relevant manufacturers’ factory base.

***GEOX Dragon has still not officially communicated the departure of its originally selected test and development driver Antonio Fuoco. The Italian last appeared with the team at the Marrakesh rookie test in January but is since understood to have left the position last month.

***The American-entered team moved into its new headquarters at Silverstone last week. The team is believed to have made recent changes to its suppliers for its Season Six technical package.

***Envision founder and chairman Lei Zhang told e-racing365 in Sanya that the company could be interested in a future Extreme E program. “Potentially, so we keep a close eye on it,” Zhang told e-racing365.

***Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s official reserve driver Nico Mueller recently explored the venue for the inaugural Bern E-Prix which hosts the penultimate event of Season Five on June 22.

***The Swiss circuit will run close to the banks of the River Aare and past the famous Bear Pit which is a home for brown bears, the official symbol of the city.

***Rome sees the start of the ‘voestalpine European Races’, with a trophy being given to the driver with the highest points scores from the European rounds in Rome, Paris, Monaco, Berlin and Bern.

***The trophy, which was unveiled in Vienna last week, was specially designed and produced by voestalpine using 3D printing technology.

***A demonstration event will be held on the streets of voestalpine’s base city of Vienna on April 22 when a Gen 2 car will run in the Austrian capital. Nico Mueller will drive an Audi e-tron FE05 at the event.

***Formula E has concluded a deal with Chinese telecommunications and consumer electronics giant Huawei as a major partner this weekend.

***NIO has recently recruited former F1 engineer Michael Croft-White. The former M-Sport, Marussia and Williams employee is a specialist in the field of electronics and control systems.

***Former Techeetah staffer Craig Spencer joined Mahindra at the start of the month. Spencer will be tasked with heading up the Indian manufacturer’s quality inspection and reliability division.

***Italian motorbike racer Luca Salvadori will drive the VIP Jaguar I-PACE in the eTROPHY race this weekend.

***Salvadori, who also has some single-seater and karting experience said: “Taking on the Circuito Cittadino dell’EUR in Rome is a special moment for me as I have the opportunity to race in the modern Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY racecar in the historic surroundings of my home country.”

***The final FIA Smart Cities Forum of 2019 takes place at the track tomorrow. Panel guests include Mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi, Formula E Chairman Alejandro Agag and the FIA’s Deputy for Sport, Angelo Sticchi Damiani.

***The Formula E YouTube show ‘Voltage’ has been cancelled after just six episodes. The initiative was aimed at engaging a young audience with a live broadcast featuring social media influencers but  returned disappointing viewing figures.

***Tom Wood, the FIA’s Communications Manager for Sport and the erstwhile Media Delegate for Formula E, has been temporarily replaced in the latter role by former FIA Formula 3 communications chief Britta McKenna.

***Wood is attending several Formula 1 races in the coming months as a restructuring of the FIA’s various communications teams takes place.

***Formula E organisers orchestrated a special photoshoot in downtown Rome this morning featuring one car from each entrant. The photo took place in the Piazza di Spagna which features the historic Fontana della Barcaccia fountain.

Photo: Formula E

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

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