Dear Diary, this weekend a dream is about to become reality... Me, myself and I, will be walking through the gates at the inaugural Cape Town E-Prix, as an accredited FIA Journalist. Whilst the pressure is immense, and the self-belief is non-existent there is something within me that knows "I can do this!"
|PHOTO CREDIT: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship|
And, so the journey to the Cape Town E-Prix begins (Day One). Please enjoy my recount of events!
Formula E is a green/climate friendly championship, and thus trying to keep in the spirit of green, I electively opted to travel to Cape Town/Green Point via public transport (the train and/or taxi), thereafter, I began the long walk to frEEdom… strolling past the Garden Court Hotel in Green Point, and seeing two grey Maserati's outside. Could this actually for the Maserati MSG Racing crew? Maybe, just maybe, it could be them, but little to my surprise a lady to my right shouted "Hellloooo guys!", and I instantly looked to the left, and their shofars acknowledged them. But, only minutes later after walking a considerable distance from them, did I realize, those two guys walking in the middle of a group were in fact; Maximilian Günther and Edoardo Mortara. Is this real? Or a prank.... I've just seen two drivers, and some of the team personnel. This is actually real! I continued the walk and finally arrived at the circuit entrance shortly after 9am.
It took an estimated 5 minutes to obtain my FIA accreditation lanyard/tag, and so it begun. The day, I became an official FIA Formula E journalist. It might seem strange to a few of you reading this entry, but it's something worth noting and silently celebrating.
Not knowing where to go exactly, I navigated my way around the massive paddock using the bill boards, and strangely... Yes! I got lost! Looking left and right, left and right trying to absorb the ambiance. Little to my knowledge that on my left, the FIA marshals were conducting a dumbie extraction test, removing someone from a Gen3 spec car.
Having seen the complexity of the extrication process. I then wondered into the pitlane where I saw the TAG Porsche Formula E car freshly out of the FIA scrutineering office/garage, and the geek in me instantly started having a look at the aerodynamic package. I was quite stunned by how tiny the Generation 3 cars are. As they say, the television makes things look a lot bigger.
Retracing my steps, I stumbled into Mitch Evans, Sam Bird, Edoardo Mortara, Max Gunther to name a few… thereafter making my way to the media center to begin something that I’ve been dreaming of for years.
Upon arrival, I set up and then the joy began! I returned to the pitlane to capture as many photo’s as possible whilst teams prepares their cars for the shakedown session.
INTO THE DEEP END - PRESSER TIME!
The press conferences soon arrived. James Rossiter (Maserati MSG Racing), Alex Hui (NIO333), and James Barclay (Jaguar TCS Racing) were present at the Team Principals press conference, closely followed by Jean-Eric Vergne, Kelvin van der Linde and Sasha Fenestraz.
As soon as the press conferences concluded, all the drivers' assembled in front of the media pen. Will I get my opportunity to actually speak to these legends of motorsport? I actually did… I had the opportunity to chat to none other than Antonio Felix Da Costa.
Da Costa was calm and so pleasant to speak to. I then lined up to chat to Jean-Eric Vergne to ask him about the slipstream affect, which became a talking prior to the event. The second question, I asked, was: Could you compare the speed of the Cape Town E-Prix circuit to the Monza, to which JEV replied: “It would be unfair because there is only one Monza.”
Having completed the interviews, I then walked back to the media centre to begin the joyous exercise of typing and publishing a few stories, before leaving to watch the shakedown sessions.
Speaking for myself, it was quite exhilarating hearing the cars blasting past you, whilst struggling for grip and traction.
Thinking that the wind had made it a bit more challenging for the drivers, I popped over to ask Jaguar TCS Racing if there drivers had any concerns about the wind after the shakedown, but unfortunately, they acknowledged me then wondered off to cater to other television media. But thankfully, ABT Cupra’s Mark Schneider came to my rescue informing me that their drivers had no concerns about the wind.
Back to the media centre, I shall go! There... I quickly updated an article, and then had a bite to eat. That all said and done, it was time for practice, and unfortunately, Envision Virgin Racing's Sebastien Buemi crashed, Kelvin van der Linde damaged a rim resulting in him stopping on track and Lucas Di Grassi suffered suspension failure.
In a race against time, and social media. I quickly put a story together, then packed up and wondered off to the pitlane for one last time. Quickly noticing the damaged parts in the back of the Envision Virgin garage. I walked to the pitlane captured as many snaps as possible then walked back to capture the damaged parts before beginning the next journey….
The LONG GREEN JOURNEY HOME... Public transport. Not the best in South Africa, but to make it the best.. you need to support it in a way. It took an estimated 30 minutes to walk from the Cape Town E-Prix circuit to the train station where I just about caught a train home. A 15-hour day on the road has concluded.
DAY 2 - THE BUSINESS END OF THE RACE WEEKEND
The early bird often catches the worm, or so they say… Rise and shine! It’s 4am, let’s get this day started! To continue in the green venture. This time around, I opted for the Cape Town street racers (Taxi’s). Well! That could be a bit unfair to them, but appropriate in the same breathe. Once aboard, a friendly guy, named Austin asked for direction to Green Point Traffic Department, the location of their event security meet up. Having explained everything about Formula E, Formula 1, and why I don’t watch one ball sport. We parted ways and the journey to the track began.
Arriving at the main entrance to start race day. First up on the agenda was to visit the Envision Racing garage to inspect the work done on Sebastien Buemi’s car after the heavy crash in Free Practice 1, but all seemed calm and collected. The car had all four corners lined up, and everything seemed ready for more lappage.
Would I be the first to the media centre at 6:45am though? Nope, it was an elderly journalist reviewing footage from the previous day. And, whilst being the second journalist in the media centre, the exploring journey began. And, I opted to take a walk to the E-Fest Electric. Why? Because there was an official launch for Formula Student Africa, a series that I am quite excited by. Why? Because I participated in South Africa’s first-ever entry to Formula Student in 2012.
With the day planned and an idea of what I am aiming to achieve… let’s just hope my body can hang on with just a few hours sleep.
Free Practice 2 and Qualifying first on the e-lectrifying agenda… I thought why not take a stroll and watch the opening seconds of Free Practice 2 before running to the media centre to cover the session. Feeling as if I’d been hit by a bus, I ran like I’d just been powered by a Formula E battery, and made it with just a few minutes gone in the session.
After the final practice session, I once again took a stroll to the paddock and pitlane to see what I could pick up and inquire about.
Thereafter, I made my way back to the media centre, but upon arrival, the lovely Elza Smit from Maserati South Africa got in touch regarding an interview with Giovanni Sgro, the head of Maserati Corse. With five minutes to qualifying, how on earth would I make it in time? Well! I don't know to be honest as I ran... We successfully conducted the interview (which is soon to be published).
Sprinting back to the media centre was the next task at hand because the qualifying session was just minutes away. And, what an interesting qualifying it was. For some, reason I expected an Avalanche Andretti pole position, but never write-off the quick young guys. Hats off to Sacha Fenestraz, who claimed he’s maiden pole position in Formula E in Cape Town.
With a few hours between qualifying and the race, and the lack of water and/or juice in the media centre. I went on the hunt for some water or fizzy drinks, but to my disappointment the lines were longer then a Black Friday queue. And, so I returned to the media centre to sit back… Is there water? Isn’t there water? Thank god there was some cold water for a cup.
Whilst sitting back waiting for the race, I partially wrote this diary entry before planning out the rest of the afternoon. And, with the media centre situated inside the 2010 FIFA World Cup stadium in Cape Town. With just a few steps you can stand and watch the grid, and the final corner(s). After watching a couple of seconds, I immediately ran to the media centre in order to watch the proceedings.
What a race it was… Congratulations to TAG Heuer Porsche’s Antonio Felix Da Costa! Such a funny and friendly character in the paddock. I saw him this morning, and said: “Goodluck, you can win this!” To which he replied: “I will try!” Guess what? He won!
|PHOTO CREDIT: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship|
Immediately after the race, the FIA held a top three drivers’ press conference, but with no possibilities to ask questions, we left the conference, and there they were 17 drivers ready to answer the media's questions. Have a question? Ask the media representative of the team, and if given the green light, do go ahead.
As you might have expected, I asked a couple of questions… but most of all enjoyed the experience!
At this point reality begins to sink it.... The Cape Town E-Prix was officially over! But it isn't over just yet for the media present. Many photographers were editing and sending off their photographs. Videographers were editing and preparing their videos, and journalists were wrapping up their stories.
It was 19:23pm, and it was time to call it a day.... and take the long walk to the station, which meant I'd continue my green experience. I once again resorting to the minibus taxi.
So, would I ever apply to any other Formula E race(s) abroad? Hell yes! Buuuuttt… it is so easy to say “yes”, but money is required, and tons of it (due to exchange rates). So, maybe one day, I can live that dream, but as for now, the Cape Town E-Prix was an event that opened my eyes to the possibilities.
THANK YOU FIA, FORMULA E, E-MOVEMENT AND MASERATI SA!!!
- The End -