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Valencia Wednesday Notebook

Sam Smith’s paddock notes from the second day of running at Valencia…

Photo: Marc Calvo

***Sam Bird’s incident at the chicane in the final ten minutes of the afternoon session today resulted in the Envision Virgin Racing team having to fit a new Audi powertrain to his chassis as a precautionary measure ahead of Friday’s sessions.

***Daniel Abt’s stoppage in the first session on Wednesday came after the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler driver was asked to stop his car on-track after he reported a severe vibration and something coming loose on his Audi

***Plans for the first-ever Japanese E-Prix in Yokohama are still said to be progressing positively with a possible race venue close to the Nissan Motors headquarters in the port area of the city, on the banks of the Katabira River. Senior chamber of commerce officials of the city met in July to formally look at allocating a budget for a race in 2021.

***Former Mahindra team members Joan Orus and Andres Castillo were present at Valencia in new consultancy positions at the NIO333 team. Both are working with the re-structured team via their roles at the Barcelona based QEV Technologies company which is assisting NIO333 this season with engineering and operational support.

***Indycar driver Ed Jones was an interested spectator in the Valencia paddock today. Jones, who is seeing Formula E cars in action for the first time, finished 10th in May’s Indy 500 for the Ed Carpenter Racing team.

“I’ve heard a lot about the championship so this is an ideal time for me to come and see what it is all about as obviously it is the place to be right now,” Jones told e-racing365.

***The Mercedes EQ Formula E team will be structured with shared technical responsibilities between Mercedes HPP’s Pierre Godoff and HWA’s Franco Chiocchetti, according to team principal Ian James.

“If you take a look at the core engineering that we do within Formula E, that is centred around the power unit and the chief engineer there is Pierre and Franco is instrumental, thanks to his Formula E experience in that as well,” James told e-racing365.

“What we have done is brought those two areas together and there is a phenomenal amount of collaboration between them. We don’t work as HBP and HWA, when we come together for those meetings we are Mercedes Benz EQ Formula E Team.”

***New BMW signing Maximilian Guenther has praised the FIA’s push to promote more energy led races this season. Several changes to the sporting regulations will see energy balance more effectively with the timed races.

“I think it is something very positive, I mean basically it will make progress at the base energy management,” Guenther told e-racing365. “I think that’s a very good thing and that’s what we are all pushing for, to make our package as strong as we can in order to be ready for this kind of race.”

***Alexander Sims will have a new engineer for his sophomore campaign in 2019-20. Sims will work with Loic Descamps who has worked for BMW since September 2017 when he joined the manufacturer from DAMS.

***BMW has also re-shuffled its senior engineering team slightly with Valentino Conti becoming the Chief Engineer. Conti replaces Tim Maylon who left the team earlier this year to begin a newly created post as Head of Research at the FIA.

***Reigning Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne believes his DS Techeetah team has a full understanding of the Gen-2 car heading into the new season, compared to the corresponding Valencia test week last year.

“Preparations have been going very well so far, I’d say better than last year. We have a much better understanding of the car and a much better direction of where we want to go,” said Vergne.

***The representatives chosen to be the chairs of the Formula E Commercial Working Group this season will be DS Techeetah Commercial Manager Keith Smout, and Porsche’s director of team management and business relations Carlo Wiggers.

***Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries have only raced against each other briefly in the Formula Renault Northern European Cup back in 2012 and in last year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.

“We haven’t raced together since we were kids, although Nyck does still look like a kid!” Vandoorne told e-racing365.

“I think we knew each other a bit from go-karts but never really competed against each other but then we did Formula Renault 2-litre together, so I have known him for a little while.”

***BMW i Andretti Motorsport team principal Roger Griffiths thinks that the extra 10kW of attack mode power could be significant at some circuits this season.

“I remember Alexander trying to pass Sam Bird in Marrakesh early on and he just couldn’t do it, even on the attack mode,” Griffiths told e-racing365.

“But that extra 10kW will make a small difference and will give a better chance of an overtake. There will also be less sporting advantage for FanBoost too which I think is the right way to go.”

***The BMW i Andretti Motorsport offices in Banbury, UK underwent a facilities upgrade during the summer. The team moved its UK base from Donington to Banbury at the end of 2018 and has added new race bays and assembly facilities to the base which was formerly a test team headquarters for the Marussia F1 team.

***There was an unusual choice of testing location for Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler and Envision Virgin Racing during the summer when they conducted tests at the Vaalerbanen testing venue in Norway. It’s believed that the circuit, near the city of Hamar just north of Oslo, was used to maximize the available daylight running the teams could achieve.

***The Envision Virgin team has had a structural change to its staff in several areas over the summer period. Former Chief Marketing Officer Cameron Maultby has now left the team and has been replaced by Daniel Matson, who joins from English championship soccer club Derby County.

***In other subtle changes to the Envision Virgin Racing team, Tom Phillips has become the squad’s new Head of Communications. Phillips, who celebrated his 38th birthday today, joined the team in 2017 after being one of the first employees at Formula E Holdings in 2013.

***Formula E has announced that tickets for next February’s fifth Mexico City E-Prix have gone on sale. Prices start from 150MXN adults, and 75MXN for children. All tickets include access to the Allianz E-Village – Formula E’s immersive fan festival – which features popular Colombian group, Piso 21.

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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