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Valencia Post-Test Notebook

Sam Smith’s final notebook after a week of pre-season Formula E testing in Valencia…

Photo: Marc Calvo

***Mahindra Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein hit the back of James Calado’s Jaguar in a penultimate lap incident in Friday’s second test race. Wehrlein was unable to avoid hitting the back of Calado’s car which had slowed suddenly. Jaguar is investigating the cause of a likely technical issue that triggered the incident on the series debutant’s I-Type 4.

***ABB FIA Formula E Championship race director Scot Elkins explained to e-racing365 the method of communicating the reduction of usable energy as per the new for 2019-20 regulation created to alleviate overtly flat-out races.

“The message that comes across the timing monitor in the first instance, says there is a reduction of X,” Elkins told e-racing365. “The second instance, there is an additional reduction of X. And then at the end of it, we’ll show a cumulative total.”

***A meeting of the Technical Working Group convened on Thursday. Additionally, Professor Burkhard Goeschel, the president of the FIA’s Electric and New Energy Championship Commission (ENECC), was in attendance at the test and met with senior technical figures to continue discussions on the Gen 3 rules and concept options for the 2022-23 season.

***Nissan e.dams managing director Francois Sicard believes that the framework that the late Jean-Paul Driot put in place at the team has been key in ensuring the business has come through a tough summer during which the team founder succumbed to serious illness.

“I would say the day-to-day work is not going to change,” Sicard told e-racing365. “For the strategy things were already very clear with Nissan and we try to anticipate as much everything so normally nothing is going to change. For sure it’s a big miss not to have Jean-Paul, but he put in place some very strong foundations.”

***NIO333 CEO Vincent Wang confirmed to e-racing365 that Christian Silk will hold dual responsibilities of team principal and technical director at the new-look team. Silk initially joined the original incarnation of NIO from Williams F1 in early 2017 as performance program racing director.

***Ma Qing Hua got his first ever running in a Gen 2 Formula E car at Valencia during the week. The NIO333 driver explained that he was delighted to return to the series after a 1-month absence since his last running at the New York City E-Prix in July 2018.

“It feels good to be back racing here in Formula E again,” Ma told e-racing365. “There is a lot of work to do, but I like this challenge and we just need more time to explore all these new things after a lot of changes to the team.”

***NIO333 has booked several test days at the Calafat test circuit next week as it continues to attempt to catch up to the opposition after being unable to test this summer due to its acquisition and subsequent restructuring by the Lisheng Company through subsidiary business Brilliance in Excellence.

***GEOX Dragon will complete its test day allocation in the next two weeks with a three-day schedule before the cars are freighted to Saudi Arabia for the opening round in just over a month’s time.

***Nico Mueller says he is frustrated by a calendar date shuffle that has seen the rescheduled New York City E-Prix moved to the same sate as the Norisring DTM weekend. This means that the Swiss driver will be replaced at Dragon for the penultimate event on the 2019-20 schedule.

“It is especially frustrating as it is New York and the date had been changed,” Mueller told e-racing365. “It looked very good to be able to do all the races, and now there is unfortunately that one clash as it looks like. But you never know. Maybe we end up being lucky, but it’s still far away.”

***The Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E team has some days of its manufacturer test allocation still available should it need to run ahead of the opening race in Ad Diriyah. As a manufacturer that is a customer provider (to Venturi Racing), it has 22 days available.

“We haven’t used up all of our test days, pretty much all but not quite, so we’ve got an opportunity between now and Riyadh, so we are just making sure we’re in as good a position as possible,” team principal Ian James told e-racing365.

***DS Performance’s Xavier Mestelen-Pinon described the Valencia test as “rich in lessons,” after the three days of running.

“Our drivers are very satisfied with their DS E-Tense FE20 race cars and we will now take advantage of the four weeks we have left to optimize all the points that can still be to reach Riyadh with a clear goal, defend our two titles,” he said.

***Formula 2 racer Louis Deletraz visited the Valencia paddock on Thursday. E-racing365 understands that the Swiss driver held several meetings with senior team representatives discussing a possible appearance at the 2019-20 Formula E rookie test which is likely to take place after the Marrakesh E- Prix on March 1.

***Envision Virgin Racing’s head of engineering Chris Gorne believes that the extra 10 kW of power available under Attack Mode deployment this season will benefit Robin Frijns in particular during races.

“[Frijns] can overtake like nobody else, so levelling it in that respect makes it better,” Gorne told e-racing365.

“I think the extra 10 kW of power for the Attack Mode is good, it should liven it up. Cars will definitely be able to get by but then they’ll be swapping positions hopefully. It’s what the leading drivers were crying out for last year and the good thing is that Formula E and the FIA have actually listened.”

***Next Tuesday is the official FIA deadline for Season Six driver nominations. While all teams have officially confirmed their drivers for the 2019-20 season, lineups cane be replaced for season entries up to and including midnight on Oct. 22.

***All cars ran at Valencia on the final day of the pre-season without the mandatory camera housings and driver name identifications. These were taken off cars on Wednesday evening and were returned to Formula E TV’s base in the UK in readiness for shipment to Saudi Arabia.

***Jack Nicholls and Dario Franchitti are set to continue in their roles as commentators for Formula E for a sixth consecutive season together. The pair have called the majority of races together since the series’ inception in 2014. Bob Varsha will not continue in his role with Formula E for the coming season.

***Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler sported some innovative wrap-around screens for drivers to study in their pit boxes. The new hardware also features special vents for cold air to be directed at the drivers while in the pit.

Photo: Sam Smith

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


    October 20, 2019 at 12:59 am

    Hi Sam,

    Great article as always. Any news on who will be broadcasting Formula E in the UK yet for this season? Is it still going to be the BBC?

    • Avatar

      Sam Smith

      October 21, 2019 at 10:29 am

      Thanks. Still to be confirmed but word in the paddock is that there will still be a Free to Air option this season. Expect it to become known early next month.

  2. Avatar

    Martin Smith

    October 20, 2019 at 8:56 am

    Interesting that Varsha’s no longer involved in commentary. He seems like a nice guy, but his presence has always been a bit of mystery to me, because it’s never quite clear what he’s there for. He’s largely just a third wheel to Dario and Jack (who are perfectly capable of introducing the sessions and reading the classified results themselves) chiming in with the odd, often redundant, observation.

    Hopefully they’re just going to eliminate his role rather than replace him.

    • Avatar

      Sam Smith

      October 21, 2019 at 10:30 am

      A lot of people will miss Bob in the paddock. Hopefully he will still write a few columns for us this season so he keeps in touch.

    • Avatar


      December 1, 2019 at 7:20 am

      Part of the problem is Varsha was a Ken Squier trained voice, who taught a storytelling style similar to baseball legend Vin Scully. There’s no emotion but a nice story that lets the race set its own. Compare to the screaming we hear in some motorsport.

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