Tag Archives: FIA

Formula E Support Race Single-Make Jaguar i-Pace SUV Series Reveal

Great news!

Guess what? We’re getting real viable support racing series for an FIA Formula E city ePrix near you… not the single car Roborace DevBot from Kinetic making slow laps around the track stripped of it’s body panels but still wearing flag liveries of the host country… but real looking cars. More than cars… SUV’s which once again are all the rage in North America and pretty much everywhere else around the world. (we love our SUV’s!)

photo credit: Formula E / Jaguar

I posted earlier suggesting Formula E should link with the announced Tesla single-make Model S series… but why bother asking someone else to participate when they could just create one from scratch. Jaguar Panasonic Racing was a heavy presence in Montreal, Canada where billboards of the team were plastered all over the place, from the International Airport to the Downtown City Streets… and now they will get their money’s worth with this single-make series featuring the all-new Jaguar i-Pace model.

photo credit: Formula E / Jaguar

I think seeing up to 20 of these on the city streets will be fantastic!

I would imagine that with the weight of the cars maybe the street-circuit barriers and catch fencing would need to be reinforced. But I’m sure it’s something that the organizers would follow through to FIA standards as the rules dictate.

I’m totally looking forward to checking them out in person.

The news says they will make their debut in 2018 which means that the series will miss the 2017-2018 season opener in Hong Kong, but like the Roborace I’m sure it’ll take some time for the vehicles to be prepped and teams created to run them. Maybe 2019 would be a good year to witness a really competitive Jaguar i-Pace race, if the series does survive and there is acceptance.

Make it happen folks!

Additional photos from the Frankfurt Motor Show reveal:  autocar.co.uk/slideshow/frankfurt-pictures-jaguar-ipace-racer

And official press release from Formula E:  fiaformulae.com/en/news/2017/september/formula-e-and-jaguar-to-launch-support-series/

Formula E Montréal e-Prix the debrief

It doesn’t happen often, but everything went right during the Formula E Montreal ePrix weekend. So I have nothing but praise to everyone involved in making this event a special one for me.

As I mentioned previously my friend Denis C. played a major role in helping me volunteer the event in the first place. I’m really grateful. The folks he introduced me to at GP3R were so super welcoming I was amazed with their warm hospitality. Thank you again to all involved.

I’m probably going to write too much about this so, I’ll try to focus on a few points I definitely should make. First and foremost, the event was better than the Formula 1 events I’ve done in the past. I don’t say that in a critical way to make myself uninvited from future F1 events, but instead to point out the good things any organization could do to promote participation in their events, and making marshals feel welcome so they are eager to come back.

As with the NYC ePrix event the communication about the venue and various organizational planning was excellent. There were frequent e-mails and information sharing via a closed social media format, and the information was super useful and necessary for all of us to arrive prepared and ready to do the work expected of us.

The organization was well prepared and fully staffed to tackle the issues that arose. They provided uniforms. Credentials. Lunches and drinks on a regular basis, that left nothing to be desired. It helped that the weather was perfect. There were no major incidents except for the Buemi crash that contributed to the excitement of the event. And there was plenty of downtime to explore the paddock and eVillage areas to satisfy even the most curious marshals with stuff to see and all the new technology. I really loved it!

My role for this event, like in NYC, was in pit lane. And that was an amazing location to be working. I felt super privileged and very lucky! We had action. We had lots of cars to look at. And it was awesome.

It seemed like the extent of our role was to whistle as the FIA requested in order to warn everyone, and I mean EVERYONE! about electric cars silently moving along the pit lane. But perhaps my favorite two stints were those of a lollipop boy working on the grid for the start of the two races. That was super cool!

I thought working at Start was as good as it gets, but maybe Pit Marshal is what I should focus all my efforts on for the future. It’s a bit more low key and the line of interested participants is not as long that desire to work this role. I like doing this job and Montreal was a major contributor to making that decision. I definitely want to do more Formula E events in the future too, and I’m hoping that maybe Hong Kong or Marrakech in Morocco may be in the cards.

Besides the Montreal ePrix next year, I need to find an opportunity to find a way to work the Grand Prix du Trois-Riviere’s in the future. The crew is fantastic and I want to be a part of it again!

Thanks so much for everyone that contributed to making my experience so excellent.

What would make e-Prix Formula E more Exciting? Electric GT Support Races

I had a blast at the two Formula E events I  volunteered, but not all experienced such an electrifying time I was lucky to have. Why? Because of the amount of downtime between sessions… How would something like that be fixed? By adding support races of course!

At present the Roborace is the only “support” series that Formula E advertises, which consists of a single DevBot putzing around the track at slow speeds while it learns the track. That series will get more interesting especially when the autonomous/driver-less cars take to the streets in anger, but we are some time away from that happening.

What could be implemented much sooner is an exciting idea announced in Ibiza, Spain earlier… a Tesla Model S based spec series called Electric GT.

I had written about that series when I first learned about it, but I feel it’s important to talk about it so that people are aware and indeed support the idea to help bring it to fruition.

Just look at the latest pix posted on electricgt.co web site:

Photo credit: Electric GT (electricgt.co)
Photo credit: Electric GT (electricgt.co)
Photo credit: Electric GT (electricgt.co)

Actual track footage of the car in Europe…

Photo credit: Electric GT (electricgt.co)

The reveal

Photo credit: Electric GT (electricgt.co)

Yes, the car has so much torque it can smoke those tires easily!

Photo credit: Electric GT (electricgt.co)
Photo credit: Electric GT (electricgt.co)

The new P100D version

Photo credit: Electric GT (electricgt.co)

Simulation race, something Formula E already does letting fans take on actual professional drivers in a video game.

Photo credit: Electric GT (electricgt.co)

Even electric carts could help fill the void of having too much downtime… should some people want to remain in the grandstands instead of wandering around the eVillage.

Photo credit: Electric GT (electricgt.co)

It seems based on the calendar the Electric GT series is very Euro-focused, but the global schedule of current Formula E series is very attractive and could certainly be managed easily by the participating teams sharing expenses with Formula E.

I for one would love to see this happen. Strength is in numbers, and to keep the electric series together would bring the costs down and excite both the viewing public in attendance and the TV eyeballs entertained. Make it happen folks!

Post Card from the FIA Montréal e-Prix

Bonjour a tous!

If I had any doubt before about Formula E being my new favorite series, I can say for sure it rocks! and my participation at the Montréal e-Prix this weekend cemented that feeling!

Here’s the mega gallery of pix from this weekend:

Walked into a TV shoot on the streets of Montreal on my way to lunch… for whatever reason Team Jaguar took charge of promoting FE to Quebec

Registration with the GP3R folks running the show…

Friday at the track… first sight of cars

Saw a promo at the airport for these all-electric Taxi-cabs, featuring a Model Tesla X, so for the next few days my mission to spot one!

Office for the weekend in Pit Lane

I had the privilege of working the pits of Mitch Evans, a kiwi I got a chance to watch race in New Zealand where this young kiwi is from in the Toyota Racing Series during the New Zealand Grand Prix

The GP3R folks came out in force, and it looked like no expense was spared, they were well staffed, perfectly organized, and took good care of us Benevole’s

So not only is a large number of former Formula 1 drivers represent the current Formula E grid, many of the team staff come from F1, like this fella from Marrusia… remember them? Da, da!

Following many of the European FIA rules, our Pit Lane staff was fully decked out in brand new overalls.

I have to say working in Pit Lane is my new favorite spot! Constantly in front of cars, always something happening, I love it! So different than being on a flag point somewhere, bored out of your mind.

The backdrop of the Montreal, Ville-Marie was just gorgeous. Formula E got it so right holding the races downtown, instead of having people come to the race track, they bring the race track to the people. Love it!

The government of Montreal dumped a ton of money into this event, which of course resulted in some sour grapes from the locals, but I think everyone would agree they got their money’s worth!

First briefing with the FIA big boss about the safety features of the Formula E cars… love the fact he did the demo with an actual car!

The FE cars are all spec-SPARK cars with similar cues to an IndyCar made by Dallara, but more tastefully done, so that the front wing and rear bumpers don’t look so obnoxious.

Huge props to the GP3R organizers for getting the lunches soooo right, they were super tasty! Major thanks for that!

So unlike NYC, the garages/paddock was in a separate location. And part of me wishes they used this as pit lane, but the way they had it set up was perfect! The long pit lane proved to be an active spot for incidents of all sorts I got a chance to report.

The locals were quick to point out this fella did a great job taking pix of the marshals and posting them on his photography web site. Wish more media people would do that.

But until that happens we’ll be taking our own pix, and I have to say there was lots of great views to pose with. The temporary circuit was in a beautiful spot. I enjoyed being there.

Oh and quite a few anniversaries were happening this year… 150th anniversary of Canada, 375th of Montreal… there were fireworks several days over the bridge leading to Ile Notre Dame where Circuit Gilles Villenueve resides (that hosts Formula 1) but I was way too tired to actually watch them… could definitely hear them from my bed at the AirBnB I rented.

And there it is, I finally spotted the Tesla Model X taxi cab:

Didn’t realize this before but apparently Formula E has mascots… meet AC and DC

As if being in pit lane wasn’t close enough to the action, I think the highlight of the event for me was working the lollipop at the grid.

Another delicious lunch on race day…

Let’s Race!

While I’m sure all cities that host Formula E have some sort of electric car infrastructure, I’m looking forward to the day when the series races at it’s full potential… with remote recharging along bus lanes, etc… it’s nice to see this new technology being adapted.

More to come in my debrief later… stay tuned!

Formula E NYC e-Prix the debrief

First, I’d like to express my gratitude to the organizers of the first ever FIA Formula E New York City ePrix for giving me the opportunity to participate in such an amazing event. Thank you!

I could only imagine what it took logistically to put this race on. And it certainly took a lot of different groups to come together and pitch in for the occasion. I saw Jeanie from CoTA running around with a radio looking very official. Walking in Friday morning there was a Pocono Raceway truck prominently parked at the entrance. According to the fire marshal posted at the Finish line they provided 10 of their fire crew for the race. I know that the Northern New Jersey and New England region flag chiefs co-chief’ed the event bringing flag and communications marshals not only from their local regions but from around the country and around the world. I got the pleasure to work with a Pit Lane chief from Arizona, alongside marshals from my home region as well as from Canada (both Ontario and Quebec) and from France (Paul Riccard Circuit!). That was super cool. And even though I didn’t make it onto the Scrutineer team like I was hoping to do, I got to work closely with them in pit lane which was mission accomplished for me. So I was thrilled.

What exactly did I get to do… well everything I wanted to.

  • I got to be in Pit Lane, as pit lane marshal
  • I was posted at Pit Out, working a Radar gun
  • I got to wave the green flag when the lights malfunctioned
  • I got to push some Formula E cars around to Parc Ferme
  • I got to steer one of the FE cars instead of a Scrutineer

What more could I possibly ask for?

There were some awesome perks for working this event. After all it was my local race, just about 30 miles from home. Although using public transport it took me longer to get there than it usually does to go to Lime Rock or Pocono Raceway. The organizers provided two nights hotel stay free of charge. We had an awesome pizza party on Saturday which they generously over-estimated allowing me and probably many others to take a few slices back to the hotel to have cold pizza for breakfast. The shuttle buses were provided to get to the track which was super convenient. It was great, and greatly appreciated too!

The series and the races didn’t disappoint either. First of all it was a big and small atmosphere at the same time. Big because there was a lot of clout for this massive international event. But small enough that the whole pit lane and garages filled a relatively small area. The pit lane set up was unique in that the garages faced each other, and therefore when cars were released they shot out at each other slotting into one lane. Even the safety cars and medical cars were electric, provided by BMW and including i3, i8 and an X5 hybrid electric SUV. It was cool to see i3’s with German plates (from Bavaria) and the North American HQ with American (New Jersey) plates. Cars looked identical and yet unique. I loved the little things that were noticeable about them.

The races were messy, and yet with limited safety car or virtual safety car periods. I managed to sneak a peek at the start on a big screen near pit lane and it was nuts to see all those pieces of body panels flying as cars inevitably bumped into each other on a tight circuit… but they continued. Some cars stopped on track and our fellow F&C marshals got to respond under local yellow to push them into cutouts. Which by the way were awesome. The track set up, including catch fencing and marshal post cutouts were perfect. Nice big holes, marked by orange paint and without sharp fencing edges sticking around. I mean someone did an awesome job designing and executing the set up. It was unlike any other street circuit I’ve done recently for IndyCar or Formula 1 for example. Props to them.

And then there was the view. The views were spectacular. You could see lower Manhattan across the river. You can see various boats and ferries passing by. You could see the Statue of Liberty. And with the weather we had it was a perfect view to take in. I’m even super happy it rained on Friday because it added to the appearance/view of the track with big rooster tails one day, and nice shiny cars the next on a sunny day. It was perfect!

All in all I had a blast. I feel lucky to have had a chance to participate. And I feel very proud of the job the organizers did to put on this event. I think this race was incredible and I am totally looking forward to doing more events for Formula E. It’s a shame it took me this long to volunteer I remember planning to go to Cyber Jaya on the first season or at the very least the Miami race, but never did.

Oh… and for those that say there’s no sound. That’s a tricky one. The sound is deafening. It’s a very high pitch electric/metalic noise that comes through as the cars leave past you at full blast. Coming at you though you can’t hear them at all, which is nuts, but that was the function of our Pit Lane team, whistling every time a vehicle was in pit lane because none of them could be heard at slow speed. But being at Pit Out and seeing them go full throttle you could definitely hear them and maybe even too much. The fact many of them went way too close to the wall on exit, often hitting it, that was another sound that was clearly audible. Body panels bottoming out or smacking the wall make very loud noises that you don’t normally hear over traditional engine noise.

I loved this event! I want to do more…

Roborace… Yay or Nay?

The main question everyone had going into the first New York City ePrix debuting Formula E on the streets of South Brooklyn was whether or not they are the future. In my opinion there’s no question about it, of course electric race cars will be part of our future in Motorsport. But one of the support races called the Roborace, that is a real question whether it’s the future or not?

I do believe it is.

There’s so much opportunity!

We were treated to a display of a traditional LMP3 chassis car with a driver on board doing several learning laps around the Brooklyn Street Circuit to teach the software how to do an ideal lap. Then the pilot gave control over to the computer to do a lap while keeping his hands close to the steering wheel with the ability to take over if the computer did something wrong. And finally the car executed a perfect lap with the driver out of the car…. The car didn’t go particularly fast, but it did what it was supposed to do driving autonomously and speed in my view is a totally adjustable parameter at that point.

So do I think this stripped down prototype replace the flashy Le Mans cars we are used to watching in IMSA or WEC?

No… not at all. But I’m thinking to the old days of Le Mans where there was variety. And with this series I think the opportunity for “variety” is incredible! Remember when formula cars raced alongside sports cars on the same track… we have the prototypes and GT cars racing together now, having multi-class competitions each competing for the top step on the podium at their own speed, depending on the class. I think it would be awesome to see humans compete against Robocars on the same track in the same race, at the same time.

It would be incredible!

I love the look of this driver-less Robocar:

I will be watching eagerly to see how this plays out in the near future! I for one would love to see more of these cars at the tracks I go to volunteer around the world.

Post Card from the FIA New York City e-Prix

Greetings from Brooklyn… How you doin’?

This was one of my favorite events of the 2017 season. I once said if I only do one race this year it would be this, and it totally didn’t disappoint. I am happy with every aspect of the event. I’ll write in greater detail about it but for now here’s some pix:

All Electric LMP3 Robocar… which did a few laps with the driver, autonomously and all by itself without a driver!

I love the fact the organizers offered a hands on training sessions on Day 1 – Friday in pit lane (for extrication marshals).

Gorgeous view of Lower Manhattan from this temporary street circuit on the grounds of the Brooklyn – Red Hook Ship Terminal.

Speaking of Robocars, this display model was neat…

Back to my office: Pit Lane

I love how Virgin Racing keeps with tradition of naming their cars. They do the same with airplanes too, each Virgin Atlantic flight has a fairy sticker on the front pulling the British Union Jack. In Australia I saw Virgin Blue (now Virgin Australia) have a flying chick on the nose with an Aussie flag.. very cool:

Roborace in progress:

All electric truck used for the driver parade:

So Holly won! (both races)

Bellie didn’t do so well…

But Holly is awesome!

Welcome to Brooklyn ferry and cruise ship passengers and race fans

At the conclusion of the event a fellow Quebec pit marshal and a fellow French went marshal and I went to lower Manhattan for some food. We had Chinese Soup Dumplings in Chinatown and desert in Little Italy!

I really love Joe’s Shanghai!

more to come soon…

Le Hydro-Québec Montréal ePrix

Something exciting will be happening in Canada in July:

Le Hydro-Québec Montréal ePrix couronnera les champions de la saison 2016-2017 !

La Formule E de la F.I.A. arrive au Canada pour la première fois en juillet 2017. Venez découvrir l’avenir de la course automobile au centre-ville de Montréal avec des pilotes de renommée mondiale comme Buemi, Prost ou Piquet Jr. et profitez d’activités de tout genre au eVillage!
Le Hydro-Québec Montréal ePrix, c’est deux courses dont la grande finale de la saison où le grand champion sera couronné!
Assurez-vous d’être des nôtres pour vivre l’adrénaline de la Formule E à son maximum !

Suivez @FIAFormulaE pour les dernières nouvelles du #MontrealePrix

 

montreal.fiaformulae.com

And I intend to be there… it’s been a long while since I visited Montreal for a Motorsport event. Formula 1 just wrapped up and I missed it, but Formula E season finale will be amazing.

Happy Volunteers Day!

Congratulations Motorsport Volunteers… tomorrow, May 12th you are getting your very own day of recognition. Go ahead and pat yourselves on the back for giving up your time for this hobby!

The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile has posted this:  http://www.fia.com/2017-fia-volunteers-day-resource-page

2017 FIA VOLUNTEERS DAY…

Announcement

The first FIA Volunteers Day will take place on 12 May, celebrating those who dedicate their time to make motor sport possible around the world. Capitalising on a packed weekend of FIA competition – six headline race events will raise awareness and give thanks to the volunteers who carry out the wide variety of essential roles without which the events would simply not happen.

Throughout the day, the entire motor sport community – from volunteers and officials to fans, drivers and members of the media – are encouraged to join in and show their appreciation on social media. Using the hashtag #FIAVolunteersDay on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, people can share photos and stories of themselves in action on the day connecting motor sport volunteers at all levels from all around the world – from club events to world championships.

“This is an opportunity to embrace the day as an occasion to thank all volunteers who support our events at all levels,” said FIA President, Jean Todt. “It will also promote the positive benefits that they gain from their involvement in motor sport, and help attract new people to get involved.

“It is important for the FIA to give the appropriate recognition and publicity to acknowledge that each volunteer’s commitment is an essential part in ensuring the safety and success of every motor sport event.”

yada yada yada…

What does this mean?

Will the FIA finally take my suggestion to recruit and train marshals at the grassroots level for major events and then have a great pool of trained professionals available to volunteer for other non-FIA events? Nope… not that. I guess the volunteer numbers are so damn low around the world, the FIA had to come up with a gimmick to push local ASN’s to promote the volunteering business with FIA graphics.

What a shame!

Probably the biggest insult is the FIA using a picture of a Monaco marshal for this V-day promotion. Monaco is not hurting for volunteers. Monaco is typically oversubscribed. Monaco is pretty arrogant about who they choose to work their events from a very small pool of very local volunteers.

Ugh…

To be perfectly clear, I fully support Volunteering in Motorsport. I mean that’s basically the whole point of my blog. I volunteer around the world and share my experiences to encourage others to do the same… but the FIA has done very little to “help” me in my endeavor to volunteer even when I reached out to them time and again. Only certain contacts within the ASN’s of the individual countries I wanted to visit were helpful. And that’s a good thing because without local contacts I’d be shit out of luck. But it would be so nice if the FIA helped with (at the very least) establishing or facilitating the contacts for me and others to use. The FIA should take the leading role on that!

And then there’s the US of A. America doesn’t give a fuck about the FIA… The SCCA… America’s only ASN that provides marshal licenses recognized by other ASN’s that recruit international marshals for FIA events… definitely doesn’t give a fuck about the FIA. I haven’t heard anything from the SCCA to promote FIA Volunteer day on May 12th….    USAC an ACCUS/FIA member didn’t share any news about this “promo” either. Wouldn’t it be nice if the whole world (of Motorsport) was on the same page and recognize these dwindling numbers of Volunteers and done something about it, even if paying lip service to it like the FIA V-day hashtag they created for May 12th? I for one would really love to see more done.

Good luck to the FIA!

And have a very happy V-day Motorsport Marshals of the World…

#FIAVolunteersDay

May 12

mark your calendars for the future…

IndyCar Will Soon Use Digital Flags (Lights) Finally!

Great news!

IndyCar series will soon start utilizing a light-flagging system, much like many of the elite global series including FIA Formula 1, FIA Formula E, FIA WEC, Blancpain Endurance Series, etc.

They’re pretty late to the party. The first time I used the FIA TSB digital light panel system was during the 2012 F1 season… a full five years ago! Since then, I’ve used it around the world from the 24 hours of Le Mans in France to 24 hours of Spa in Belgium. To a small club event in New Zealand!

The light system is an important supplement to the traditional flagging system using physical flags, and is one of my favorite roles to work as at a track because there’s so much responsibility on your shoulders when operating one of these digital panels.

Why?

Because digital panels streamline the process.

In a traditional scenario, if something happens, the person on flags displays the correct flag. The observer/communicator sees that flag displayed and radio’s it to Race Control. When they receive the news Race Control spread the message back to the marshaling group, both communicators and rescue services. As well as to teams, TV, even drivers… for those that have displays of real-time info on their fancy steering wheels. With a push of a button, all of those steps become one. The light comes on as a flag, it is better visible to the drivers on track. It is also immediately visible to Race Control, to the Teams, to the TV, to other marshals in the neighboring stations automatically adjusting their flags too, for example waving yellow automatically creates a standing yellow in a preceding station and a green at a following station. The computer does this automatically, no additional input is necessary from the marshals at adjoining stations unless their individual situations change.

Well, today IndyCar announced that they are testing a system of lights and gave us a little waterproof box controller to play with and give feedback…   and to my surprise and amazement, the prototype is shit! I mean these systems have been around and in actual use for at least five years, I know because I’ve used them personally. And the designers of this box still made the same mistakes that plague the older/primitive systems.

It’s a shame the people that design and develop these are not the ones that will actually use these devices themselves. And I’m afraid any feedback we provide will be shelved without serious consideration.

But here it is…

This waterproof box bullshit is stupid. Why? Because chances are you will be using this device when it’s raining out. Umbrellas aren’t always allowed, we don’t always get proper shade from the rain, so how the fuck do you keep this fragile thing dry when it’s open???

You can’t… it will probably get flooded and malfunction.

The design must be such that it is waterproof when opened, in the condition it would typically be used. So having a seal-able watertight box for storage is nothing what reality calls for.

Why give users buttons they are not allowed to use?

There’s no fucking reason any flag point on track would require a “RED” flag button. That decision comes from race control and they are the only ones who should have control of it. Placing a button onto individual station controllers is pretty dumb and only accomplishes creating confusion. And assuming it does work, placing it so close to one of the most used buttons in the box: “BLUE” flag is calling for trouble… Imagine hitting “RED” flag accidentally when a faster car approaches slower car for a pass…   I’ve done that. Not with red flag but with a “SURFACE” flag, and never seen cars hit the brakes harder instead of pushing gas to pass.

That is my other suggestion. Put neutral flags next to BLUE flag, one of the most used flags in the box. You should only have WHITE or GREEN flag buttons next to Blue. But never anything serious or important like RED, SURFACE, YELLOW or WAVING YELLOW.

That said, the box design is the easiest part of this whole system development. I’m very excited about what they told us the actual lights will look like to display to drivers. That will be awesome and potentially leapfrog other series already using digital light panels.

I’m especially looking forward to using this myself.

Ironically, several people at this morning’s presentation jumped to conclusions that this box will replace existing flaggers. I call bullshit on that! Traditional flaggers have a place at today’s race tracks, unfortunately they are taken for granted by every series out there, and most of the people in Motorsport from drivers to fans. Nobody respects marshals and that’s a shame. But there will always be need for them, even if just to push the appropriate buttons to display the correct warning flags.