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SEASON REVIEW: Inconsistent Venturi Frustrates Again

Venturi suffered a frustrating 2018-19 campaign largely due to unreliability…

Photo: Formula E

There is not a team on the grid which blows as hot and cold as Venturi, and in the 2018-19 season such was the competition that any inconsistencies got punished more severely than ever.

It is one thing being inconsistent but to be unreliable as well is going to hurt you.

Unfortunately for the Monegasque team, it had both these unwelcome traits to contend with for large swathes of the season.

Ahead of the campaign the advent of a three-year plan was put in place as first Felipe Massa and then Susie Wolff joined the team.

In a series such as Formula E where long-term structure and one eye has to be set to the future, this bode well.

The early signs though were not promising after copious braking issues in Saudi Arabia severely compromized the team.

Then there were its driveshafts. These proved brittle on several occasions and undoubtedly cost it a bunch of points and perhaps even a position in the overall standings to Panasonic Jaguar Racing.

On and off, reliability, or rather a lack of it, became a theme for the season. Flashes of pace, podium form and an upward trajectory would come but then almost immediately fade.

It must have been an enormous sense of frustration for the team which is undoubtedly one of the smallest in most areas compared to its OEM rivals.

However, what Venturi do well is embrace the surprise attack and in conjunction with Edoardo Mortara and Felipe Massa a few of these opportunities arose over the course of the season.

After a soul sapping start for both drivers, their season started to come together in Santiago when Mortara would have grabbed a podium had it not been for the briefest of tags from Alexander Sims’ BMW.

The next time Mortara got any sniff of a result was in Hong Kong, a race he remarkably won to shrug off a monkey that had clung firmly to Venturi’s back for so long.

Photo: Formula E

It was a romantic story and one that few begrudged the Venturi team as Mortara buried a year-old ghost after throwing away a win at the harbourfront a season earlier.

It came after a penalty for Sam Bird yes, but Mortara had driven wonderfully all weekend and had fought back from crippling braking issues which haunted the team for way too long.

Remarkably this was Mortara’s highlight from a season that was fraught and often coruscating.

The Swiss/Italian had plenty of ill luck but there was also some graphic desperation in his driving at times. To describe his dispatching of Alex Lynn in to the barrier at Paris as agricultural would be generous.

On his day Mortara is one of the very quickest in Formula E but the feeling is that the lack of consistency and momentum that was provided for him last season really got to him.

Massa had a mixed season in his rookie campaign. At times he looked right at home, particularly at Mexico City, Hong Kong and Monaco.

However, on other occasions he looked a bit mystified, none more so than at Santiago and Berlin when the sharp elbows of rivals and the retaining walls respectively proved problematic.

Overall though Massa laid down a reasonable foundation for his second season when most expect him to be more of a threat at the front should his equipment allow.

Venturi brings a great deal to Formula E. It should rightfully considered to be a kind of mirror to Williams in F1.

For instance, it was one of the first to experiment at races with ride-height combinations this season.

With three flap options on the front: no flap, 15 degrees and 20, Venturi was running unique combinations in the early European races ahead of other teams.

Venturi is made up of racers to the core and the team holds true to the great EV ethos and vision of its owner, driving force and visionary – Gildo Pastor.

2018-19 was important for the team as Wolff took the helm. Immediately there were some changes, both in personnel and methods of planning and working.

The bigger picture of course is yet to be officially announced but it doesn’t take the work of an investigative genius to guess what form the team is likely to take in 2019-20, particularly from a technical perspective.

Confirmation of its plans is likely to come next month but indications are that technically the team has a solid foothold for the next couple of seasons at least.

The future therefore looks promising. Could the team become a de facto junior for a manufacturer, or can it feasibly do as Techeetah did with Vergne and form a giant killer around either Massa or Mortara?

The questions are tantalising because one of Formula E’s most likeable and passionate racing teams is as keen as anyone in or out of the paddock to dispel its inconsistent tag.

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 Motorsport.com from 2014-17. Contact Sam

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