Tuesday 28 February 2023

NIO 333 sets out clear path to return to competitive form.

PHOTO CREDIT: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship
Author: Junaid Samodien

NIO 333 team boss Alex Hui says he wants the team to be in the position to fight at the front of the field, as they work to address the team's lack of competitiveness. 

NIO’s last victory came in 2015 at Moscow E-Prix, but under the name: NEXTEV TCR, but ever since then the team underwent a number of changes, including a new team name (NIO) and managerial changes. 

The team's last podium came from Oliver Turvey in 2018, when he claimed a second-place finish at the Mexico City E-Prix, but ever since the team has endured a challenging time lingering at the tail end of the constructors championship. 

Having lingered at the tail end of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship teams’ championship for four seasons, the new Gen3 era, poses a new opportunity to gain ground and find improvements necessary to be competitive again. 

And, with five rounds complete in the 2022-23 season, Nio333 have thus far scored 19 points (on par with their 2020-21 seasons total tally), but team principal Alex Hui admits that the team are targeting Gen3.5 to make the necessary steps forward. 

“Our goal is to bring the team back to fighting at the front towards the second cycle of Gen 3, which is 3.5, because we know that we still have time to fix everything, we still lack resources and procedures in some areas, and we are trying to do as much as we can for this year,” Alex Hui, Team Principal of NIO 333 Racing Formula E Team, said. 

“The package is more or less frozen from this season to next. So, the big manufacturers will be able to do more development with the current package, which we will try to, but I think the rate of development for us as a smaller team will be more limited, and we are already looking at season eleven on how to make a big step forward with the new package.”

Hui added that he feels the team have made an improvement compared to the 2021-22 season, but feels there are areas where the team can do better to extract more performance.

“We have improved our package, but it’s not enough. Although there are some differences with the package, we will keep trying to extract more performance. We’ve also seen that there are some differences in performance between customer teams and manufacturers. So, there are a lot of things that the team can do better to extract performance, which we will try to polish for this season and next season,” he said.

He also admitted to the fact their results weren't good enough in previous seasons, and that is why they aren't able to attract star drivers, however, he makes it clear that Sergio Sette Camara and Dan Ticktum have been driving very well this season, and added that there feedback was relatively similar, which helps drive the team forward. 

Monday 27 February 2023

Newly launched Formula Student Africa aims to break the mold by leading e-mobility on the African continent.

Author: Junaid Samodien

Formula Student, a student engineering competition held annually in the United Kingdom, sees student teams around the world design, build, test, and race a small-scale Formula style racing car, but the newly launched Formula Student Africa (FSA) programme will differ slightly, as it aims to focus primarily on e-mobility in Africa.

FSA will be supported by partners, the University of Warwick and Warwick Racing, E-Movement, and Paramount Global, to help drive it’s aim to educate audiences on e-mobility and related skills development opportunities, upskill graduates and mechanics, and create a pipeline of engineering, commerce and technology talent to accelerate e-mobility and related sustainability industries in Africa. 

This will be achieved with the development of various programmes, activations, events and edutainment content with job creation, as a sole focus in a number of industries including: computing, manufacturing, installation, maintenance, racing, solar, supply chains, mining, and the legal industry in terms of regulation and policymaking. FSA will also provide many possibilities for start-ups and entrepreneurs.

“While the rest of the world takes steps towards a zero-emission transportation sector and leveraging e-mobility to create opportunities and jobs, we know that Africa is capable of doing far more and doing it faster,” Alex McLeod, founder of Formula Student Africa, said. 

“Mobility is a fundamental lifeline that connects people to jobs, education and critical services. E-mobility creates even more opportunities around these.” 

PHOTO CREDIT: University of Warwick/Warwick Racing.
Students from the University of Warwick and Warwick Racing were present at the launch of FSA in Cape Town. These students will help to share knowledge on the building and racing EV vehicles, as they hope to help drive the electrification of transport in and around Africa.

“We are one of the leaders [for Formula Student Africa]. So, we work closely with Formula Student, as a company and Alex [McLeod] to establish all the rules, and help universities like UCT start this competition,” Jan Stebnicki, Chief of Business Operations at Warwick Racing said.

Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) are among six South African universities, including the University of Cape Town, University of Johannesburg, University of South Africa, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and the University of the Witwatersrand, who have already signed up for the series. 

DID YOU KNOW: CPUT made history in 2012, when they became

the first South African university to compete

 in Formula Student (UK), and later returned to compete in 2014. 

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University based in Port Elizabeth have also announced their intentions to collaborate with the University of Warwick’s WMG with their research into EV batteries. 

So, what does the Formula Student Africa racing programme actually entail? Well, the six universities will have to design, build, test and race an electric Formula style car, as well as design the batteries themselves. And, there are business elements, as well (Business Management and Marketing). For more information visit www.formulastudent.africa

Saturday 25 February 2023

Remarkable Da Costa claims victory at the inaugural Cape Town E-Prix after sensational overtake on Vergne.

PHOTO CREDIT: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship
TAG Heuer Porsche’s Antonio Felix Da Costa takes top honors at the fifth round of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship in Cape Town on Sunday, having held off a charging Vergne on the final lap. 

The Cape Town E-Prix circuit provided to be a real challenge for the drivers due to it's fast flowing nature, and balls to the walls characteristic, which means any lap of concentration or error will be punished. 

Harsh as that may sound, Nissan's Sacha Fenestraz started from pole position, and looked set control the opening stages of the race after battling Maxillian Guenther and Nick Cassidy in the early stages. 

And, whilst those fought ahead running into turn 10 on the first lap, Sebastien Buemi slightly misjudged his braking point, and unfortunately, got hit in the rear by championship leader Pascal Wehrlein.

After waving some yellows to caution the drivers of an incident ahead, the full course yellow was deployed, and in the process Guenther overtook Fenestraz and held the position for quite some time. 

Further down the pitlane, Maserati MSG Racing finally showed some turn in form, but it was not to be for Edoardo Mortara, who exited the race with a technical issue. 

Maserati's neighbors in the Cape Town pitlane, Jaguar TCS Racing had a day to forget. First, it was Sam Bird who hit the barrier exiting turn 9, and ricocheting into Mortara's Maserati. The team tried all they could, but they just ran out of time. Having been taken out by he's team-mate in Hyderabad, Mitch Evans quietly got on with his race before the Stewards handed him a drive through penalty for a overpower infringement. Jake Dennis (Avalanche Andretti) suffered a similar fate, but for a team infringement - "not respecting the minimum tyre pressures."

But that's not all folks... prior to qualifying, Mahindra Racing announced the formal withdrawal of all their powered cars due to a suspension issue. 

PHOTO CREDIT: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship
The attack mode strategies soon came into play with Sacha Fenestraz, Nick Cassidy, Jean-Eric Vergne and Antonio Felix Da Costa all fighting for track position. 

Maserati could have brought some good results today, but after attacking the braking zone into turn 1, Guenther hit the wall and exited the race. 

Who'd actually win the Cape Town E-Prix? It was actually anyone's game as the laps ticked off, one driver showed he's hand. The hand of DAC... The Porsche driver pulled off a good overtake on the inside of Nick Cassidy at turn nine, and he immediately began to pull a gap to those behind. But, whilst joy turned into elation, Da Costa missed the attack mode sensors (1 of 3) and could not reap the benefit of the additional power. 

With just five laps remaining in the inaugural Cape Town E-Prix, the Porsche driver took the attack mode he missed out on earlier, and dropped behind Jean-Eric Vergne. 

A decision was then taken by the FIA to extend the race by 2 laps, whilst Nick Cassidy faught to defend from an attacking Fenestraz, whose race unfortunately ended in the wall at turn seven.

Could Antonio Felix Da Costa actually pull-off another ballsy move to win in Cape Town? He soon showed the world what he was made of, as he used an alternate line at turn 7 forcing Vergne to back off. But, with a lap to go, JEV was not backing down. Ultimately, seeing the return of the DAC - claiming victory by 0.281 seconds. 

Speaking at the post-race press conference, Da Costa said: "Winning is great, but we go through some tough moments [in our careers]. It hasn’t been an easy first few months of the year for me. So, this win has a special place [in my heart]."

The 31-year-old admits that his defensive driving on the final lap might have been over the limit. 

"On the final lap, I think I was over the limit defending from Jean-Eric Vergne, but it was a fun race," he said.

He admits that the ballsy overtakes at turn 7 and 8 were great, but he had a lot of trust in the drivers behind. 

"Two or three of the overtakes that I managed to pull off through turn 7 and 8 were great, but I knew that I had the right guys behind me to co-operate through these overtakes. At the time, I was up on energy and I could afford to pull off these overtakes," he said. 

"Having started eleventh, as you know our car is very efficient through the start of the season. So, I know that we can go forwards, but it’s not an easy track to overtake on, but the race played out perfect for us with the second safety car forcing everyone to save a little bit of energy. So, that helped me. In the first 40% of the race, I tried to save energy and the race then came to us."

Fenestraz claims first career pole position, whilst all-Mahindra powered cars have been withdrawn on safety grounds.

PHOTO CREDIT: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship
Nissan Formula E Team's Sacha Fenetraz claimed pole position for the inaugural Cape Town E-Prix on Saturday afternoon. 

The 23-year-old Frenchman calmly made he's way through the qualifying stages beating everyone along the way. A question arose when Max Guenther set a much faster lap then his rival, but in the flat-out duel between the two for pole position, it was not to be for the Maserati driver who missed out by just 0.422 seconds. 



An almighty lap from Nissan’s Sacha Fenestraz sees him top the group session by just 0.013s ahead of Nick Cassidy, Pascal Wehrlein and then Jean-Eric Vergne, who will progress to the duels, whilst Dan Ticktum, Norman Nato, Antonio Felix Da Costa, Jake Hughes, Andre Lotterer, Sergio Sette Camara and Nico Mueller will go no further. The latter is currently under investigation for a qualifying procedure infringement. Whilst NEOM McLaren’s Jake Hughes crashed after loosing the rear under braking and taking a wack on the right rear wheel. He was able to continue, but couldn’t set a fast enough lap to progress.


Rene Rast rises to the top of group B in his NEOM McLaren having set a 1:08.844.The German topped the group by 0.181s ahead of Mitch Evans, Sebastien Buemi, and Max Guenther, who will progress to the duels.

Sam Bird, Jake Dennis, Stoffel Vandoorne, Edoardo Mortara, Lucas Di Grassi, Oliver Rowland and Kelvin van der Linde on the other hand will go no further.

In the closing stages of the session, Mortara lost the rear of his Maserati, and hit the concrete barriers at turn 9. A few seconds later, a Nissan past the stricken Maserti and soon after team-mate Max Guenther, who just about avoided his team-mate.

Bird was quite unlucky. He slammed into the barrier at turn 9, the scene of Mortara’s crash, and with the speed and momentum – the Jaguar rolled into the Maserati.

James Barclay, the Jaguar TCS Racing team principal spoke after the session, and said: “no yellow flags or double waved yellows were shown” when Mortara crashed.

Lucas Di Grassi, Oliver Rowland, Kelvin van der Linde, and Nico Mueller will go no further, after all Mahindra powered cars were withdrawn for safety issues surrounding the rear suspension.

Mahindra published a statement on their media channels, saying: "Mahindra Racing Formula E team have confirmed their withdrawal from the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship qualifying sessions and race in Cape Town due to rear suspension safety concerns. (A thorough investigation on the suspension elements of the Mahindra M9Electro race cars will take place on the team’s return to the UK." 


The smooth and ever consistent Nick Cassidy pipped championship leader Pascal Wehrlein in their qualifying duel by 0.152 seconds. In the second duel, Fenestraz just about beat Jean-Eric Vergne by 0.053s, whilst Buemi’s streak of bad luck continued, as he broke his front wing on entry to turn 9. The collision meant Mitch Evans just had to cross the line to progress to the semi-finals. Maserati MSG Racing were brought some form of comfort when Max Guenther won the final duel against NEMO McLaren’s Rene Rast by 0.222 seconds.

Buemi admits that everything is still possible despite locking up and removing the endplate from he’s Envision Racing car.


In the straight fight between Fenestraz and Nick Cassidy, the Nissan drive came out on top by 0.108s to progress to the finals.

The second and final semi-final, saw Max Guenther and Mitch Evans do battle. Evans had an advantage in the opening gambit, but it was Guenther who went fastest by 0.356 seconds booking Maserati MSG Racing a spot on the front row.


Who would come out on top in Cape Town? Well... it was Nissan’s Sacha Fenestraz who claimed he’s ever pole position in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship beating rival Max Guenther by 0.422 seconds. The Frenchman’s lap is the fastest in the championships history, in terms of average speed - 1:07.848.

"Very happy! I'm also very happy for the team. Starting the season working very hard. Hopefully, this is not the last. So, let's keep it up! We are starting on pole. Let's keep it like this," the pole sitter said..

Envision Racing’s Cassidy surges to the top in Free Practice 2 in Cape Town.

PHOTO CREDIT: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship
It's all smiles, as New Zealander Nick Cassidy tops a rather cool Free Practice 2 in Cape Town. The Envision Racing driver posted an unbeatable 1:08.118, which sees him just edge Edoardo Mortara by 0.307s. 

Following right behind in third was Nio333's Dan Ticktum, who looks very calm and relax this morning. He was only 0.026s behind Mortara, whilst the Jaguar TCS Racing drivers were rounded out the top 5. 

As the session progressed there were a number of investigations for "leaving the track" involving: Jean-Eric Verge, Antonio Felix Da Costa, Max Guenther and Mitch Evans. 

Whilst it was elation for some, Brazilian Lucas Di Grassi was struck by yet more back luck. He was running last for the entire session, and attempted one last push lap, but unfortunately, ABT Cupra's van der Linde was in his way. 

The Checkered flag flew on the session, but the drama was far from over, as TAG Heuer Porsche’s Antonio Felix Da Costa ground to a half with an issue. When caused Da Costa's stoppage on track at the end of the session, the spokesperson for TAG Heuer Porsche Viktoria Wohlrapp said: "He might have brushed the wall, and there are no concerns about technical issues."  

Dear Diary - The Cape Town E-PRIX-RIENCE

PHOTO CREDIT: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship
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!"

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.


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. 


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. 

PHOTO CREDIT: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship
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! 

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. 


- The End - 

Friday 24 February 2023

Can the slipstream affect influence the Formula E title fight?

PHOTO CREDIT: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship
In the weeks leading up to the Cape Town E-Prix, Jaguar TCS Racing’s James Barclay pointed out that he’s team has noticed the slipstream affect coming into play with the new Gen3 car. 

Barclay explained: “Our driver qualified on pole position in Hyderabad (India). We were leading the race, then we had to drop Mitch [Evans] back into the pack quite soon because we were using more energy than those around us – basically breaking the air and towing the cars around us. The cars behind us had the “slipstream äffect”. They'll be utilizing less energy for the same lap time."

Having heard from James, it became apparent that the slipstream affect actually does influence the race, and the strategy. So, what is the slipstream affect, and how is it created? Basically, when a car is leading a pack. The car infront usually punches a whole in the air, whilst the car behind has a tow affect, which means they burn less energy than those around. 

With that in mind - can the slipstream affect actually influence the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship title fight? Well, two-time World Champion Jean-Eric Vergne doesn’t believe that the slipstream affect “would impact anything.”

“It [only] changes slightly the way we race. Because there is not a lot of energy saving, and also whenever you start in the middle of the pack, you can basically do the race flat out from the start because you get the slipstream affect, which in the end means you are consuming less energy. I think in India we did a lof of lifting and regenerating,” the Frenchman said.

Maserati’s Mortara tops a red flag interrupted Free Practice 1 in Cape Town.

PHOTO CREDIT: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship/Sam Bloxham
Maserati MSG Racing’s Edoardo Mortara leads the way at the end Free Practice 1 in Cape Town having set a 1:09.700s around the “fastest circuit on the current Formula E calendar.” 

The Italian based squad are finally getting to grips with where they need to improve, but as we all know, it’s only Free Practice 1. And, whilst there is some joy in being first, there is still work to be done ahead of Round 5 tomorrow afternoon. 

Envision Virgin Racing’s Sebastien Buemi brought out the first of two red flags after he crashed at turn 9 ripping off the front and rear wheels of his car. “I’m so sorry guys!”, Buemi said when asked if the car was okay. 

The session was then extended by 20 minutes, but another red flag was called for after Kelvin van der Linde stopped on track after loosing drive with what he called “a broken rim.”

“There is no drive after braking the rim,” he said when communicating with the team over the radio. 

Early in the session, Brazilian Lucas Di Grassi stopped on track, but it was unclear what issued he had suffered. 

As the session progressed, it then became clear, as Di Grassi informed he’s team that he stopped at the chicane at turns 4,5, and 6. “I had a rear suspension failure. I stopped at the chicane (turns 4, 5 and 6), and the car is in one piece,” he said.

The session resumed after the red flags, and Mortara powered to the top of the timesheets. Can he stay on top? We’ll return tomorrow to find out! 

“I hope we can still race” if forecast winds arrive in Cape Town – Vergne.

PHOTO CREDIT: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship/Simon Galloway
AUTHOR: Junaid Samodien

The picturesque City of Cape Town, which is known for it's beauty, nature, and Table Mountain (a seventh Wonder of Nature) is also known for it's strong gusts of wind. These winds are quite strong, and with the inaugural ABB FIA Formula E World Championship scheduled to race in the city tomorrow afternoon - things could become a lot more challenging for the drivers and teams! 

As we all know, single-seaters are very sensitive to wind direction changes, and with an errand gust of wind, an error could occur resulting in a crash. Something teams and drivers aim to stay clear of. 

According to the latest forecast from MeteoBlue.com, an hour before the race - wind speeds are expected to increased from 28k/h to gale force type speeds - 44km/h. 

Two-time World Champion Jean-Eric Vergne hopes that racing can continue, but ultimately, leaves the decision in the FIA Race Director Scot Elkins hands. 

“Let’s just hope that it can still be safe for us, because if you have a strong gust in the middle of a high-speed corner, you will end up hitting a wall,” Vergne said. 

“And, if that is the case tt will then become unsafe. So, then it will be up to the FIA to decide if we go racing, but I have not seen the weather forecast and what to anticipate regarding the wind strength, but I hope that we can still race and be safe.”

When speaking to ABT Cupra's Mark Schneider after the shakedown session, he said: "Our drivers did not report any issues with the wind this afternoon, but if and when it picks up and hits the car at an angle it could make the driving a lot more difficult."

Is the Cape Town E-Prix circuit the Monza of Formula E?

PHOTO CREDIT: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship
AUTHOR: Junaid Samodien

The Cape Town E-Prix circuit is anticipated to be the fastest on the Formula E calendar. 

With it's newly revised layout announced just ahead of track action today, the Cape Town E-Prix circuit is expected to be faster than first anticipated. 

The initial circuit concept featured a chicane at turns 8 and 9 heading into Beach Road, however, it has since been removed. The quick chicane poses a unique challenge to the drivers who are said to be reaching 250km/h at that point. 

Speaking at a media briefing last week, ABT Cupra's Kelvin van der Linde singled out the corner, as one of the most challenging, and "scary corners" of the circuit. 

PHOTO CREDIT: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship
Earlier this week, the official FIA Formula E social media accounts published a different circuit layout featuring a chicane just before turn 10, but later reacted the post issuing the new circuit layout. 

The revised layout published on Thursday, means that the Cape Town circuit will be shorter than initially planned, with a chicane at turns 4, 5 and 6 set to be the main area for battery regeneration, thereafter, it's a faster flowing circuit. 

It's certainly fast! And, will definitely challenge the drivers' commitment in the high speed corners. The circuit also boasts a tight chicane, quite similar to the Variente del Rettifilo at the Monza circuit, thereafter, it's a fast turn 12, which in a way could be quite similar to Curva Grande. 

Two-time Formula E Champion Jean-Eric Vergne doesn't see a need to draw the comparison. "There is only one Monza, and it would be unfair [draw a comparison]."

On the other hand, e-Movement's chairman Iain Banner believes that the circuit is fast, but said: "I'd take it, if you were to compare the [Cape Town E-Prix] layout to Monza."

Is it fast? And, just how will slipstreaming come into play? We are hours away from finding out in the first free practice session! 

Thursday 23 February 2023

PREVIEW - Rivals look to fight back, as Porsche leads both championships heading to Cape Town.

PHOTO CREDIT: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship
Cape Town will host the next installment in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship this Saturday (on 25 February), the first time the series has raced in sub-Saharan Africa and the second of three consecutive races in new host cities.  

With a quarter of the season complete, the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E team and driver Pascal Wehrlein lead the way in both the Teams' and Drivers' World Championships. A win-double for the German in Diriyah followed a podium in the season-opener in Mexico City. Hyderabad proved a test for the Stuttgart manufacturer, with a technical issue throwing Wehrlein's weekend into jeopardy via a heavy practice shunt. 

Wehrlein and Porsche were able to find the root cause of the problem and recovered to race with Wehrlein following home fourth behind António Félix da Costa in third meaning the German team leads the Formula E standings for the first time in its fourth season of competition.

Porsche didn't have it all their own way in Hyderabad. Avalanche Andretti Formula E team driver Jake Dennis, powered by the Porsche 99X Electric Gen3, missed out on a potential top three finish following an encounter with René Rast (NEOM McLaren Formula E Team). The resulting 16th-placed finish proved costly for Dennis, who won Round 1 in Mexico and finished second in both Diriyah races, allowing Wehrlein to extend his advantage in the standings over Dennis who remains in second.

"It certainly wasn’t an easy weekend. We only get two practice sessions for each race and so it’s not ideal for preparation when you miss out on one because of an incident. Still, we made the best of it. Our mechanics worked through the night with only an hour’s sleep to put my car back on the track. I was in the hospital until late at night. So with this in mind, I’m very happy with the result. These points are crucial for the championship," Wehrlein said.

"Because of the missed practice, we didn’t have much time to tweak the setup of my car to the track in Hyderabad. In this respect, the qualifying is no indication of our true performance level. In Cape Town, we face a new track with new conditions. We need to find out what it takes to be fast on this circuit. Like all the others, we’re starting from scratch. As far as the city of Cape Town is concerned, this is definitely a highlight of the season. I’m looking forward to it and I’m thrilled to have the chance to race in such a fantastic place."

Last time out, Jean-Éric Vergne won Round 4 in Hyderabad to kickstart his championship assault with DS PENSKE. Vergne led from lap 15 after sweeping by Envision Racing's Sébastien Buemi and called on all his experience to hold off teammate Nick Cassidy's late charge to steal a storming win and go third in the Drivers’ standings.

"I'm so happy for the team," said Vergne. "It’s been a very difficult three races and I couldn't be more proud of my team because we never gave up. We keep pushing and it doesn't matter the result - I am very proud of all my guys."

"We have a good car, maybe not the best at the moment but we are going to keep on working very hard to be the best and come back in the championship. That is what we do, we never give up."

The Race Winners trophy for the Cape Town E-Prix
PHOTO CREDIT: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.
Table Mountain will be the spectacular backdrop for Round 5 on the streets of Cape Town this weekend, following an unforgettable debut race in Hyderabad, India, last time out and with the next stop in São Paulo, Brazil. 

The Mother City's Green Point district provides the location for a scheduled 30 laps of the high-speed 2.921km circuit, snaking around the DHL Stadium and skirting the coastline looking out on Robben Island.

The track is expected to be the fastest of the 16-race season and features bumpy braking zones, a tight chicane at Turns 4, 5 and 6 and a pacy, narrow section midway around the lap that will challenge the 22 drivers and their GEN3 machines – the fastest, lightest most powerful and efficient electric race car ever built.

In Cape Town, Jaguar TCS Racing's Sam Bird and the team will be out to make amends after Bird collided with his team-mate in Hyderabad. "We had a great car, and I let my team down," he said. "I feel really low but we have a race in Cape Town to try and correct it. The good thing is we have a fast car."

South African-born racer Kelvin van der Linde learned this week that he will remain in the ABT CUPRA in place of the injured Robin Frijns, meaning a home Formula E debut for the South African on the same weekend his brother Sheldon races sportscars in Kyalami.

It has been a tough return to Formula E for ABT so far, with no points and a best of 11th for Nico Mueller in Hyderabad. Things are slowly improving for the squad, and van der Linde will look to home support to urge him on up through the field in Cape Town.

Can anyone actually stop the might of Tag Heuer Porsche? We shall soon fight out! 


Energy Management: Cape Town track has a lot of high-speed corners, which make it more difficult to recover energy in an efficient way, but the key places for management will be in Turns Four, Five, Seven, and 11.

Car Setup: It will be important to make sure all teams start the weekend with a strong car setup. There are a lot of high-speed corners throughout the track, so having a good car in this section will be crucial. Performing well in these areas will facilitate opportunities to overtake cars in the race, especially in Turns Four, Five, Seven and 11 in particular.

Slipstream Affect: Prior to Cape Town, there has been a lot of discussion about the slipstream affect that the race leader gives to those follow, which means more energy is consumed, and those behind have the ability to attack much harder in the closing stages of the race. 


Free Practice 1 for the Cape Town E-Prix gets underway on Friday, 24 February at 16:55 CAT on SuperSport Motorsport (channel 215) and the championships YouTube channel.

Free Practice 2 will follow on Saturday at 09:05am CAT (on SuperSport Motorsport and YouTube) with qualifying getting underway at 11:30 am CAT. South African fans will be able to enjoy the action LIVE on SuperSport Motorsport, eReality, and eTV. The race will also be available on the same TV channels from 15:30pm CAT with the lights out at 16:00pm. 

Friday 17 February 2023

“Perfect set-up window” a priority for teams, as the Cape Town E-Prix circuit is expected to “test drivers’ commitment.” - James Barclay.

PHOTO CREDIT: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship
Author: Junaid Samodien

South African-born Jaguar TCS Racing team principal James Barclay, who is “really excited to  finally have a race back on home soil”, admits that the main focus for all teams heading to Cape Town on February 25, is perfecting the set-up on a circuit that is expected to “test drivers’ commitment”.

Speaking at a video press conference, Barclay said: “Most teams will be talking about two things when they arrive in Cape Town. Firstly, they will be trying find the perfect set-up window for one-lap performance and the full race distance. This is very complex because these Gen 3 cars don’t have any rear traction brakes. So, it doesn’t have a disc on the rear axle, which means, the teams slow the rear axle with the electric motors, and the front axle has a carbon brake disc, which we call that the front powertrain kit.”

“[The second talking point] is the tyres, and that's fundamental! Getting this car set up on the new Hankook tyre, which we've now done for four races in the new Gen3 era, and coming to round five in Cape Town. It's very early in our knowledge and understanding of the tire, so the teams are still getting used to how to get the most out of it with all this power than ever before. So that will be a challenge that all teams have to try and get on top of.”

Barclay believes that the Cape Town E-Prix track labeled and predicted to be one of the fastest in the World Championship will be a true test for the drivers’. 

“[The Cape Town E-Prix track] is going to definitely test the drivers’ commitments in the high speed corners. It's going to require a lot of finesse in some of the medium and lower speed sections,” he said. “I think it actually throws pretty much everything at the driver. But for sure, when you have higher speed, that's when the big commitment starts to come, and you really see the cars and the drivers at their optimum.”

PHOTO CREDIT: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.
In recent races, a new trend emerged, the slipstream affect – where the leading car often uses more energy compared to those following. The Jaguar TCS Racing team principal has admitted that it has been a factor, but they need to see how it plays out over the course of the season.  

“In the last few races, we've seen it start to emerge, we had a little bit of it [slipstream affect] in the previous generation, but it’s becoming more obvious with the new bodywork on this new Gen 3 car, and the setup. So, basically when you're leading sometimes you can actually be consuming more energy at a higher rate than the cars behind. Is that a trend we'll see all year? We need to see how that plays out across the whole season. We have seen it in at least the last two races, that slipstream effect is a big factor and is something forces a team to make the conscious decision to drop the lead driver back into the pack,” he said.

The South African pointed out that two-weeks ago in Hyderabad (India), Mitch Evans had to be dropped into the pack after consuming more energy than cars around him.

“Our driver qualified on pole position in Hyderabad. We were leading the race, then we had to drop Mitch [Evans] back into the pack quite soon because we were using more energy than the cars around us – basically breaking the air and towing the cars around us. The cars behind us had a slipstream effect. They'll be utilizing less energy for the same lap time. So that's what we saw as a trend in Hyderabad. Could it be the same in Cape Town? We'll see when we get there,” he said.

With Cape Town in the spotlight ahead of the inaugural ABB FIA Formula E World Championship race next week. Barclay says that his drivers: Sam Bird and Mitch Evans have been hard at work in their simulator perfecting the set-up and learning the characteristics of the track. 

“Our racing drivers have been in the simulator all this week doing everything from learning the track, practicing qualifying and the race, in order to get things ready from a setup point of view. The [Cape Town] track looks fast in many of locations,” Barclay said. “So, by the time the drivers’ arrive in Cape Town, they would have driven hundreds of laps of the track in the virtual world. And then they need to put that into reality in the real world.”

James further expands on why simulator work is necessary: “The reason we have to do that these cars are very complex, so practicing in the virtual world is critical to perform at the highest level. So these are just gives you a flavor of the things that we are going to have to deal with. And, also getting on top of the tyre. But really importantly, the drivers have to be fully comfortable to be straight into free practice, pushing and learning as much as possible. So and you'll be amazed how quickly drivers learn tracks at this level. Within a couple of laps there, they're braking within centimeters of the ultimate braking line, and it's always exciting to see them as they first venture out.”

Sunday 12 February 2023

“Very fast” Cape Town track to produce a “spectacle of an event” with “more energy management and strategies” possible - Kelvin van der Linde.

PHOTO CREDIT: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship
AUTHOR: Junaid Samodien

South African racing driver Kelvin van der Linde, who recently made his ABB FIA Formula E World Championship debut in Saudi Arabia last month, said the Cape Town E-Prix is set up for a “spectacle” when the championship makes its debut in two weeks’ time.

Speaking during a virtual press conference, van der Linde said that aside from the iconic location in Cape Town, the fast track would make for exciting racing as more strategy would be involved.

“I think it's a great combination (the Cape Town E-Prix circuit), obviously very, very fast, which means, energy management is gonna be critical because the longer you're flat out for the more energy you need to recover. So, that naturally makes the racing better, as well because the more energy management is involved, and the more strategies are involved in the racing. So, I think, it's really set up for a spectacle of an event,” the South African said.

Kelvin became the first South African driver to participate in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship when he stepped in for the injured Robin Frijns (who fractured his wrist) at ABT Cupra, in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, and also Hyderabad, India, the latter took place this past weekend.

Kelvin van der Linde driving the ABT CUPRA (Mahindra M9Electro) in Saudi Arabia.
PHOTO CREDIT: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship
Reflecting on the fact that the Diriyah E-Prix (Saudi) was his first single-seater race of his career, he said that the Gen 3 cars were like “Gen 2 on steroids”.

“It's a monster! I have to say this car is extremely physical to drive. I completely underestimated it and to be brutally honest, I was probably unprepared for it. A lot of the drivers have complained that it's probably one of the most physical cars (Gen 3). I drove the Gen 2 car in Morocco, two years ago, and the first kind of feeling of the electric powertrain was, “wow” because I'd never driven anything with an electric powertrain before. The instant power, you have, and you're very close to the walls, the street circuit layout of Formula E obviously makes everything feel a lot faster when you're sitting inside the car and you're so low to the ground,” he said. 

“The first laps [in Diriyah], I was thinking, this is a big, big, big difference… especially, having never sat in a Formula car before; you don't have the same kind of peripheral vision like you do in a GT car. So, it was very difficult the first couple laps. And then on top of that, obviously the Saudi track is probably one of the most complex and most difficult on the calendar, but I think in the end I was surprised, and I was really able to adapt as quickly as possible”

Van der Linde gave some insight into how the ability to combine regeneration and braking to maximise power was key, saying this was where “Formula E races were won and lost”.

“The concept of Formula E is how effectively you can recover the energy which you “boost”, which is when you are on the power. When you are braking, you are using the front and the back motors to regenerate the energy, which goes through an inverter, and you use that again as power,” he said. “And essentially the teams that are able to regenerate the most effectively, are able to boost more – for longer periods of time. So when you're overtaking all of these kind of things coming to into play.”

“Naturally, the big manufacturers are a bit like Formula One. You have: Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, they have a very big development curve. And then the customer teams, as we are with ABT Cupra, we're a customer of Mahindra. We have a limited workforce of people that are able to develop the software and essentially, Formula E is all about software development. The cars are all in contrary to Formula One or the cause in terms of body work, aerodynamics, they're all the same, but where the people are making the big differences in software development and naturally there, the more resources you have, the quicker your software development is, especially when you're coming to new tracks where you don't have any data from previous seasons, this naturally becomes even more complex because we have certain teams that have simulators back home that are running 24 hours while the race weekend is running. The customer teams are kind of just trying to keep up and, and do everything manually. So it's a big learning experience!”

Whether regular driver Robin Frijns will return in Cape Town after his injury at the season opener, or Kelvin van der Linde will contest his home race has yet to been decided. According to our sources, a decision is expected within this week.

“I'm in race mode, so since Saudi we've spent three to four days in the simulator, which I will do after this event as well. We have our post event simulator sessions (next week), and I'm gonna approach Cape Town, as if I'm racing,” he said. 

“It has to be your mindset even, if I were approaching that race as a reserve driver, that's my job title. My job title is to be ready in case one of our drivers get injured. So, naturally I'm gonna go to Cape Town, do all the preparations as if I were racing. I'll do all the simulator days, I'll do everything, whether I'm racing or not, I'm anyway planning to travel to Cape Town, to attend, the flight's all booked, everything is done.”

Wednesday 8 February 2023

“To have Formula E is a great step” for South Africa – Naomi Schiff

AUTHOR: Junaid Samodien

South Africa has a very rich motorsport heritage, with the likes of Formula 1, and MotoGP having raced on the continent in the late 90's to early 2000's, but after a 24-year absence of any form of international motorsport, the first FIA sanctioned championship, World Rallycross broke the mold, and raced in the Mother City from 2017 to 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic saw the cancellation of many international motorsport events in South Africa and across the world, including the FIA World Rallycross Championship, which is set to return to Cape Town later this year. 

The iconic Kyalami Grand Prix circuit is yet another draw card, with it’s own rich history having hosted Formula 1 Grand Prix from 1967 to 1993, however, after the circuit fell into disrepair, it was auctioned off, and Porsche South Africa were the lucky bidders. After significant upgrades were completed, the circuit received FIA Grade 2 certification, which allows every championship to race around the circuit apart from F1. And, whilst local motorsport took advantage of the new facilities when the revamped Kyalami opened it's doors, a few years later, in 2019, it was then announced that the Kyalami 9 Hour would be revived thanks to a collaboration with the Intercontinental GT Challenge.

Since the return of racing at Kyalami, there has been a renewed interest and push to bring Formula 1 back to South Africa, with bids and promises, ranging from a Cape Town Grand Prix to the revival of F1 at Kyalami, but nothing has materialized as yet. However, South Africa is soon to electrified, as a dream is about to become reality.

In 2021, e-Movement announced their intentions to bring the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship to Cape Town, and despite a number of obstacles, the championship is heading to the Mother City later this month (on 24 and 25 February). 

Grandstands have been erected ahead of the inaugural Cape Town E-Prix on 24/25 February 2023
PHOTO CREDIT: Cape Town E-Prix (Supplied)
Capetonians, who frequent the Green Point precinct in Cape Town, have begun to see the erection and installation of the grandstands, along with the concrete barriers and fencing. It’s actually, a reality rather than another sold dream. The inaugural Cape Town E-Prix is certainly set to a thrilling, and captivating experience for all, including: Naomi Schiff, who is set to return to Cape Town later this month to join the official ABB FIA Formula E World Championship team, as a guest commentator.  

Schiff is a professional racing driver, who was born in Belgium, but grew up in South Africa, where she developed and homed her driving skills. In 2019, she competed in the inaugural WSeries championship, before becoming an ambassador and presenter for the series last year. Naomi then became an analyst for SkySports F1, and presents their ‘Any Driven Monday’ show. 

“I started my racing career in South Africa and I have many fond memories of Cape Town, specifically where I had some really good results, although they were just in karting. It's a very special place in my heart. And yeah, I get to see my friends and family and yeah, it's going to be my first Formula E event that I'm working on. So that's also exciting. And what a better place to to have that opportunity,” she said.

Along with her commentary role, Schiff will be part of another project taking STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects to the local communities in South Africa.  

“I'll be part of a project that I can't say too much about just yet because it hasn't been announced yet, but we are taking STEM subjects and bringing that to young girls in local communities,” she said. “And I think it's so important to be able to have people that look like you doing things that you might want to do or things that you never even considered for yourself because people like you, maybe you've never seen them doing those things. So, it's super important to me to be bringing, you know, not just the race, but also everything that comes around it, all the topics of sustainability and the environmental awareness topics, all of that is really important.” 

“Coming to South Africa, there's a huge opportunity to raise awareness, to bring so much stuff to the to the local communities that can help them, you know, enhance their futures potentially.”

The Belgian born racer turned analyst has long been an ambassador for diversity and inclusion in the WSeries, and when asked if Formula E, could soon have it’s own female-based championship, she said: “Not that I've heard of, to be honest. I think what's a good thing is obviously, as you said, WSeries exists. Formula One have now launched their F1 academy. Extreme E obviously has one female driver, one male driver in the cockpit. So, it's a general conversation that's happening around most schools about how we can support our female talent. I do recall a couple of years back and almost every year I would say during the rookie test of Formula E, they always include some female drivers.”

“I'm hoping that it won't necessarily need to be a separate championship for women because in my opinion, I still fully believe that women can race equally against men, particularly in a sport like Formula E, where physical barriers aren't that much of an issue,” she said. “And therefore I would hope that we would see one of these girls in the cockpit in the lineup on Formula E, not necessarily a separate championship.”

Through the years, there has been numerous attempts to bring Formula 1 to South Africa, with bids aiming to bring the championship to Cape Town, Soweto, and Kyalami (Johannesberg), but unfortunately, none of these attempts were successful, despite visits from F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali last year. 

Schiff believes that Formula E is a great step for South Africa, after missing out on an opportunity to bring Formula 1 back to the country. 

“[South Africa] came so close to getting Formula One to come, especially last year, which didn't happen. So that was really disappointing. But you know, to have the Formula E is already a great step. It's such a fantastic event!,” she said.

Tickets for the inaugural Cape Town E-Prix are going fast! Get yours today at TicketMaster to avoid disappointment, because it's definitely going to be electric in more ways then one.