“Radio on, shades on and it’s off to the grid” Behind the scenes at Formula E
We spoke to Josep Roca, a Performance Race Engineer for the Formula E team, Panasonic Jaguar Racing. Josep is a 10 year veteran of the motorsport circuit and we followed him on race day at the Mexico City ePrix during round 4 of Formula E’s third season as Panasonic Jaguar Racing go up against their rivals on the track to try and gain valuable points. For more on Formula E, the worldwide electrically powered street racing series, check out the competition’s website or get your copy of How It Works issue 99, on sale 18 May!
05:20am Wakeup call. I never manage to sleep well the night before a race day and these early starts don’t make it any easier. No time to snooze though; quick shower, team kit on, double check that the laptop is in the rucksack and that I have my entry pass with me and I am off!
05:45 Leave hotel and walk to the track. The whole technical team meets at reception to walk together to the race track. This is quite unique for Formula E because the championship is so sutainable we can race right in the centre of the cities we visit and we normally get to stay very near the track. The morning walk to the track always starts very quietly as it’s such an early start but the adrenaline soon starts pumping and I mentally start to review everything we have planned for the day ahead.
06:30 The action starts. This is the point that we can access our garages. We have an established routine for the start of the day. One and a half hours after the garage opens, the cars will be out on track so there is no room for hesitation. All the work has been completed the night before, so it is a matter of doing systems checks, confirming tyre plans and pressures, double checking switches and settings and briefing the crew and my driver Mitch Evans on the details of the two practice sessions we are about to start.
7:45 Radio check – game face on. 15 minutes before the first practice session and it’s time to put our headsets on, confirm communications across the garage and make sure that Mitch is ready to jump into the car. The plan is always to be out just when the pit lane lights turns green, and you can only achieve it by being completely ready with the driver strapped in with five minutes to go.
8:00 Practice starts. The pit lane lights go green and Mitch leaves the garage straight away. We do radio checks around the track on his out lap as he warms up the tyres and brakes before getting underway with our run plan, which includes 170KW push laps at race pace, energy saving laps, 200KW laps, switch settings and car change practice at the end of the session. I take Mitch through every step of the run plan for the session with instructions over the radio. It’s crucial to cover every single lap and to test each item on the plan to gather all the data we need to validate our race strategy and give Mitch the best chance to be as prepared as possible for both the qualifying session and the race.
11:05 Practice debrief. At this point we have done all the tests and the data has been downloaded to our servers. Mitch will talk us through what he felt in the car during practice, corner by corner, and what he thinks the car needs to do to extract the full potential of the Jaguar I-TYPE. The qualifying car needs to be ready on its wheels in less than 50 minutes, including charging it’s battery along with set up changes and servicing. Again, quick decision making and team coordination is crucial.
11:55 Quali Parc ferme. The I-TYPE used for the qualifying session is on its wheels and ready to go! We have a quick review of switch settings and it is time for Mitch to jump in the car for his hot lap. The pressure is on!
15:20 Green light, cars to grid. Radio on, shades on, clipboard and Toughbook tablet in hand and it’s off to the grid. We have just over two hours between qualifying and the race, which is where we debrief the qualifying session. We eat, prep both cars, re-run energy simulations and confirm the feasibility of our strategy. At five minutes to green light, it is time for me to do the last radio check, wish Mitch good luck and walk back to the garage and take my place at the engineering desk.
16:04 Race start. Green lights on and the adrenaline kicks in, we are racing! For the next 50 minutes everything will evolve around strategy, energy levels, pit stop lap options and track position versus competitors.
17:00 Race finish. The chequered flag. Action on the track stops but we still have a few hours left in the garage. We start with the race debrief with the full engineering and management team. We try to keep the analysis to a minimum at this point; the priority is to get on with packing up the garage while the mechanics do the prep work on and prepare the race cars for transport.
23:00 Pack up complete. This is the end of race day for us. The cars have been prepared for the next event and absolutely everything in the garage has been packed away. Cars, tools, spare parts, garage structures and equipment are finally in their transport boxes ready to be shipped to the next race. My day comes to an end as it started with a quiet walk back to the hotel while mentally recapping on the incredibly intense and exciting day we have just been through.
Have your say
Want the opportunity to give Panasonic Jaguar Racing an extra boost in the Monaco ePrix? Click here to give the drivers your #Fanboost vote. The three drivers with the most votes will receive an extra power boost in the race. Register your vote and get involved. The power to potentially alter the result of the race is in your hands!
For more amazing tech and transport features and more on Formula E, check out issue 99 of How It Works. Pick up your copy from all good retailers or from our website from 18 May. If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can also download the digital version onto your iOS or Android device. To make sure you never miss an issue of How It Works magazine, subscribe today!