Ahead of this weekend's racing return to Marrakesh, we hear from team principals Jerome d’Ambrosio of ROKiT Venturi Racing, Sylvain Filippi of Envision Racing and Jaguar TCS Racing’s James Barclay on the inaugural Jakarta E-Prix, preparing for a pivotal few months in the championship race and the latest developments with the Gen3.
Jerome d’Ambrosio, ROKiT Venturi Racing
“I think [Jakarta] was spectacular for a first event: the fan engagement was incredible. The drivers like the track and provided a great show, so I think all the elements came together to put on a great event. I'm very much looking forward to going again next year.
“It feels cooler [in Marrakesh] than we expected, maybe because it's drier than Jakarta, but in the end our preparation is not so dissimilar. Obviously, you have to bear in mind the degradation of the tyres during the race, and then the management of the temperature on the battery side of things. That's something that we prepare for in the simulator – we can simulate everything, different temperatures, different ambients, and so on.
“The season has gone pretty well for us so far. Edo [Mortara] has had an amazing run since Berlin – pole positions, on the podium multiple times this year, won races. He’s in a good space. What’s important for us – and I've repeated it multiple times – is really taking it race by race. In Formula E, what's true one weekend might not be the reality the following weekend.
“The championship is something that will come at the end of the season, an accumulation of points that, to a certain extent, you can't control the outcome of, unless you focus on trying to maximise every opportunity. Edo’s in a great place, so we'll try to keep that momentum and if we don't, it's OK, we'll focus on next race and see where we are at the at the end of the Championship.
“It’s taken Lucas [Di Grassi] a bit of time to get to grips with the car, with a different powertrain and different team, but he's right up there as well. He’s scored a podium, several top fives and I think we've got two drivers that can really challenge for podiums and victories. That's our strategy, basically – to focus on Marrakesh now. FP1 is coming up, then FP2 and qualifying, then the race, and so on to the end of the year.”
Sylvain Filippi, Envision Racing
“From a team perspective, we had a bit of a shocking race [in Jakarta], but that's a separate subject. It's really enjoyable for us to go racing in countries that are really engaged and so passionate about the sport, like you see in many other countries now. If you compare the early days of Formula E to now, we get huge, super engaged attendances, so it's really good for us.
“We have some catching up to do, based on our performance in Jakarta, but each race is different, and each race requires a different car. The rear end of each car is different, so how hard the car can run the tire is going to be different for each manufacturer and team: we seem to be suffering more than others, so we have to find ways around that.
“In terms of objectives, nothing’s changed. We should be on the podium, so we intend to be on the podium in every race until the end of the season, and we’ll see where we end up.
“More work back at the factory, more simulator days, more of the stuff we need to prepare: we’ve worked hard [over the prolonged break between races]. I mean, we are mid-table at the moment. We don't like being there. We’d like to be a bit further up – we’re taking the long route. You can turn things around pretty quickly, so it's really exciting.
“We’re really motivated, and it's going to be an intense battle. We now have a race every two weeks, so I think all the teams will get into a good rhythm. We're going back to New York and London, where we’ve been before, and then Seoul will be an interesting new place. A lot of work, but it's really exciting.”
James Barclay, Jaguar TCS Racing
“Jakarta was a really great step for the championship. There was a huge audience, and it’s been phenomenal to see the kind of TV viewing figures that are coming out of Jakarta as well. It's great to go to a venue that really seems to be getting massive traction – the social media interaction post-event for weeks after was really engaging.
“For us, obviously, it was nice to get the win and come out of what was a really challenging race, both on track and with the conditions – it was incredibly hot for the team, the car and the drivers. You’re not just racing each other, you're racing the conditions, so it was a rewarding one.
“This a different venue, with different challenges. Marrakesh has always been a real energy-challenging race, and we'll see the same again but with the additional temperatures we haven't had when we’ve been here in the past. Without a doubt, this is one of the one of the most challenging races from an energy perspective.
“The quality of competition now is incredibly high. The fact we won the last race is great – it shows you you can get it all right – but actually, the hard work has to be put in each and every race. You start with a blank sheet of paper, you have to dot every i, cross every t.
“It is so close in the championship, a tenth of a second in pre-qualifying, and if you don't get through, you’re very unlikely to get a podium now. That's great, because what you're seeing is the drivers and the teams going through and fighting for the podium are the ones who are ultimately the quickest through the whole process of the day – and therefore you're seeing great racing – but it means that we’ve got to execute every step of the weekend really well.
“The margins of getting it right and fighting for a podium, or getting it slightly wrong and being out of the top 10 are incredibly close. It feels like you're walking a tightrope this season, but I think as a result it's producing great sport, and the sort of race we saw in Jakarta.
“There seems to be a kind of breakaway group in the Drivers' World Championship emerging as the title protagonists. It’s about doing the best job we can for Mitch [Evans], and him continuing that great run. He really has seemed to hit a wonderful run of form, and it’s amazing to see him flourishing.
“We’ve got to get as many points as we can in every race. Mercedes have a bit of a gap right now, and we just need to continue to close that. We have to control the controllables and control our performance as best we can to try and get those results. What will happen around us is going to happen.
“The priority has got to be about securing points, with both drivers, but you can't always control everything, as much as you wish you could – it’s about resilience as well. You might have a bad session, but every session, every qualifying, every race is going to be really important. So we’ll just keep pushing, keep working for points, podiums, and if we do deliver some more wins in the process, that’ll be wonderful.”
On Gen3: “We’re at that point where we kind of living and breathing with the car. It’s been a big few weeks with the first manufacturers’ test – this is a project which goes all the way back to 2020, even 2019 to some degree in terms of early thinking, and so it’s great to see the hard work by the men and women in the team rewarded.
“It’s definitely going to be exciting. It’s a fast car, and that's going to give the drivers and teams some some real work to do. It's just the start of the development programme, with a long way to go. We have some early signs of where we're going to need to focus, some of which we saw coming, but some which, as always, you don't quite know until you go through full development. We'll learn more about the car and the tyres as we as we do that, but early signs are good from our side.”
Published on 1st July 2022