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Sanya Friday Notebook

Sam Smith’s Friday notebook from the Sanya E-Prix…

Photo: Sam Smith

***Some of the track surface had an apoxy-resin solution treatment today ahead of the on-track action on the 2.2-mile, 11-corner Sanya circuit.

***The measure has been made to try and avoid a similar situation as to what occurred at the Santiago E-Prix in January. On that occasion, the recently-laid tarmac broke up in places due to the unseasonally high ambient temperatures.

***DS Techeetah’s Andre Lotterer has revealed that Sam Bird attempted to contact him after their controversial clash in the closing stages of the Hong Kong E-Prix.

***“He tried to call me and sent me [text] messages to apologize or say sorry about it but maybe it was more something for his conscience than anything else, but I didn’t reply. I did see him at lunch yesterday and we shook hands.”

***The long-range weather forecast for the Haitang Bay area on the island of Hainan currently suggests some potential storm activity with a 30 percent chance of heavy showers on race day. In addition, localized winds could see a treacherous track surface due to the close proximity of beaches to the track.

***“Depending on the weather, we could see grip suffer due to sand blowing onto the track from the beach,” said Michelin’s Serge Grisin. “The forecasters are talking about 30°C (86°F) and heavy rain, but that doesn’t worry us unduly after the storms that marked Free Practice and qualifying in Hong Kong.”

***Mahindra engineer Andres Castillo says that the circuit should give high levels of grip initially after it was laid down recently on foundations built into the sand which makes up part of the long Haitang Bay beachfront.

***”This is brand new tarmac and quite similar to Santiago really,” Castillo told e-racing365. “The macro roughness is different and the grip evolution in the first session will probably be high then we will have to see how it reacts with the temperature.”

***BMW i Andretti Motorsport team principal Roger Griffiths will undertake specific team manager duties in addition to his usual role this weekend.

***Regular team manager Campbell Hobson will miss the event due to a long-standing family commitment. Hobson joined the BMW i Andretti Motorsport team last summer after moving from the team formerly known as Techeetah.

***Peugeot is believed to be looking seriously at being the first manufacturer to join the Extreme E series. The French manufacturer has a long a successful history in rallying and Rally Raid events in the past.

***Peugeot CEO Jean Philippe Imparato recently told Autocar magazine that the company has already “committed our budget elsewhere, for a minimum of three years” when asked about a possible return to Le Mans in the near future. “One thing is for sure: Motorsport is dead unless it is electrified,” continued Imparato.

***As per recent previous races, more teams have on-site reserve drivers this week. Those present are: Benoit Treluyer (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler), Ho-Pin Tung (Panasonic Jaguar Racing), Bruno Spengler (BMW i Andretti Motorsport), Sam Dejonghe [Mahindra], Ma Qing Hua (NIO) and Max Guenther (GEOX Dragon).

***HWA Racelab team principal Ulrich Fritz says that the German team is now looking at being the surprise package after scoring a debut pole with Stoffel Vandoorne and points with Gary Paffett in Hong Kong earlier this month.

***”It would be nice to have a weekend without any technical issues,” said Fritz. “Should that be the case, I definitely feel we are capable of springing a surprise or two.”

***The Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY is in serious discussions with potential new entrants from Argentina and Japan for cars to join the series once it returns to Europe next month. In addition, the TWR Techeetah team is also known to be evaluating a plan to get a second I-PACE out shortly.

***Jaguar will welcome over 1000 guests tomorrow. The British-based manufacturer has a significant market in China and will host its 2019 Dealer Conference as part of a ‘Year of Racing’ initiative this weekend. Jaguar has also invited 200 local media to the first ever Sanya E-Prix.

***Former Reynard co-owner Rick Gorne was in the Formula E paddock on Friday. The industry veteran and manager of 1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve also works closely with Bobby Rahal and former Indycar champion Josef Newgarden.

***Gorne’s younger brother Chris Gorne will share team principal duties at Envision Virgin Racing this weekend along with team manager Leon Price. The pair will fill out the roles due to Sylvain Filippi missing his first ever Formula E race because his wife is due to give birth to their second child in the UK.

***Representatives from Chinese car giant BYD are scheduled to visit Sanya this weekend. The company is the largest producer of EVs in the country and was in discussions with the Venturi team in Season Two about a potential partnership in Formula E.

***Yannick Dalmas will perform FIA driver steward duties this weekend. The four-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner holds a similar but permanent role with the FIA World Endurance Championship but makes his first appearance in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.

***FIA President Jean Todt will attend his first Formula E race of the Gen 2 era this weekend. Todt has been in the area this week at the 5th Asia-Pacific Congress in Bangkok and also in Vietnam where he laid down the foundation stone for the Hanoi circuit which will host the first ever Grand Prix in the country next year.

*** The chief marketing officer at DS Automobiles, Adrien da Cunha Belves, has left his position with the French manufacturer recently. Da Cunha Belves held the position since 2015 after previously working for Citroen Racing.

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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