Formula E teams are taking on an unprecedented event, starting today, as the season finishes in an intense nine-day burst of six races. Mahindra have started the event on a high difficulty level, after team principal Dilbagh Gill tested positive for coronavirus upon arrival in Berlin but he says the team have been working on every eventuality…
The Formula E season was just gaining momentum when it was abruptly suspended, immediately following the Marrakech Eprix. After going into semi-hibernation for the intervening five months, teams find themselves facing the most gruelling schedule Formula E’s ever had, under highly restricted circumstances.
Speaking in a press conference yesterday, Gill said that the teams approach was to try and simplify processes and make them as direct as possible, given the already-complicated situation. “I think we basically try to go back to the basics. So just make sure that we do what we do really right. Obviously we do have a limited staff on track, same to everyone else.
“At the same time we’ve also tried to automate some of the processes etc so those processes which needed some managing, as with software which takes a considerable amount of development.
“The processes which took us a day to do, now it takes us minutes, in terms of converting some of the information we get from track. So there’s been a lot of stuff that is going on, and I think right now we just focus on the basics. We have a decent product. I think that’s where the main thing’s going to be – just do what we have to do to do well. I know it sounds simple but that’s the mantra which we have.”
Teams have arrived at Tempelhof with spare parts – some of which have already been used, after pre-free practice issues struck at both Jaguar and Nissan but with heavy grid penalties applying to any replacement still, it’s something teams want to avoid.
Gill said Mahindra knew it was a possibility and had looked at what to bring based on previous races. “We are prepared in terms of parts and spares and stuff. I think all of us have come in knowing what we are getting into. We do have a decent amount of history in terms of what’s our consumption of equipment for races. We are OK in terms of it and between us and championship parts provider Spark I think we should be OK.”
Nevertheless, the Berlin races aren’t a normal Formula E weekend – already more frantic than most other championships, with its single-day format. Effectively, Formula E is running six race weekends in nine days, with practice, qualifying and the race each being run over every day there’s competition.
In. a series where the calendar sometimes leads to frustrating gaps, it’s both a big challenge and an opportunity for teams to build momentum – or make comebacks – at a turnaround no one is used to.
Gill said it seemed more like a single, gigantic tournament than half a season, “I think just having 6 races in 9 days is of interest. When you build up a championship and you are watching an event every night or every other night, that in itself gives a lot more. You are not waiting between races for stuff to happen. Something happens today and then you follow something tomorrow.
“I think his rapid fire format is quite interesting. It reminded me of larger tournaments like if you look at cricket world cup, there’s a game every day and it sort of keeps building up the story. I think that’s something exceptional and I find it really exciting.
“There’s no time to breathe between sessions – How quickly can we react? How quickly can we adapt to a mistake? How quickly can you correct the mistake? That’s really important for us.”