Formula E

Paddock Whispers: News ticker on all off-track topics at Formula E season opener in Mexico

Tobias Wirtz

Tobias Wirtz

The wait is finally over! Formula E will be contesting its 2024 season opener this weekend with the Hankook Mexico City E-Prix. As always, you can find out what else is going on in the paddock besides the track action in the latest edition of our popular "Paddock Whispers" series, which we are continuing this year. We will update this news ticker regularly throughout the weekend.

>>> Formula E cancels test of fast-charging pit stops!

[13.01. | 13:54] After the first test pit stops on Thursday and Friday, the attack charge tests for all teams planned for the second free practice session were cancelled shortly before the start of the session. The reasons for the cancellation were not communicated. However, the fact that the use of the chargers was expressly forbidden for the rest of the race weekend may indicate a technical problem.

>>> Fastest man in the world drives world record car

[13.01. | 11:14] The 100-metre world record holder Usain Bolt drove the Formula E world record car called GENBETA in Mexico. He covered the 100 metre distance from a standing start in 4.36 seconds - a whole 5.32 seconds faster than his world record sprint at the 2009 World Athletics Championships in Berlin.

The GENBETA is a modified Gen3 car: the front motor, which is otherwise only used for recuperation, has been activated to provide an additional 50 kW of power to the front wheels, and the front wing has also been optimised for better aerodynamics. Jake Hughes set a new world indoor speed record with this car in London 2023, when he reached 218.71 km/h in the halls of the ExCeL exhibition centre.

“The GENBETA race car is like a rocket ship on wheels", says Usain Bolt after driving the car. "Getting the chance to drive it was a mind-blowing experience. The power from the start was such a surprise and the adrenaline you got is on a different level, easily. Driving the GENBETA was like nothing I've experienced before. I was told that as soon as you drive, you don’t want to stop or get out and they were right. I would do it every day if I could. If I get more time, I will definitely go faster.”

>>> After Hughes crash: night shift for McLaren

[13.01. | 01:10] Jake Hughes' accident at the end of the first free practice session has resulted in additional working hours for his McLaren team: As the colleagues of FE Notebook report, the car's monocoque was damaged in the impact with the TecPro barrier and will have to be replaced before the second free practice session.

>>> McLaren commemorates Gil de Ferran

[13.01. | 00:28] McLaren will race at the Mexico City E-Prix with "Gil de Ferran" lettering on its cars and on the helmets of both drivers. The Brazilian, who worked in team management and as a consultant for McLaren for several years, passed away suddenly shortly before the turn of the year.

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>>> Official: ABT Cupra cancels Mahindra contract for 2025

[12.01. | 23:17] As ABT Cupra confirmed at the request of e-Formula.news, the team will start with a new powertrain supplier in 2025. The team from Kempten has cancelled its contract with Mahindra and is now in talks with several other manufacturers. As the manufacturers each have to supply at least one customer team if a corresponding request is submitted by 15 January of the year in question, a decision is expected in the coming days.

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>>> Sette Camara touches the wall during shakedown

[12.01. | 22:31] In the 15-minute shakedown for the Mexico City E-Prix, ERT driver Sergio Sette Camara is said to have damaged his front wing when he came into contact with the wall, reports FE Notebook.

>>> "Big chip golf challenge" for the two Mahindra drivers

[12.01. | 21:42] The two Mahindra drivers Nyck de Vries and Edo Mortara played a round of golf against each other in the paddock of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. You can see which of the two had more time to play golf last year and was therefore better at it in this video, which was shared on the team's X account.

>>> FIA sets out rules for Attack Charge test in Mexico

[12.01. | 20:00] The FIA has determined how the test of the fast-charging pit stops will be conducted as part of the Mexico City E-Prix. On Thursday, the teams were already authorised to practice two pit stops during which the charger will be connected to the vehicles. Things will then get serious in the shakedown on Friday lunchtime: the drivers will be allowed to drive with 300 kW instead of the 110 kW normally permitted, but must come to a mandatory Attack Charge pit stop, where 3.85 kWh with a power of 600 kW will be recharged. At the end, they are then allowed to complete another lap with 350 kW, i.e. full power.

In the first free practice session, each car must come into the pits at least twice to simulate fast charging, but charging is not permitted here. In the second free practice session on Saturday morning, at least one simulation must also take place per car, as well as a real Attack Charge pit stop, during which another 3.85 kWh is recharged with 600 kW of power.

>>> Jaguar confirms Dillmann & Eriksson as test and reserve drivers

[12.01. | 19:42] In Mexico, Jaguar has confirmed the current test and reserve drivers Tom Dillmann and Joel Eriksson for the tenth Formula E season. "Our reserve, test and simulator drivers are absolutely integral to the team’s success and play an incredibly important role within Jaguar TCS Racing," said team principal James Barclay.

"We are very pleased to extend our relationship with both Joel and Tom. They played a crucial role cementing the Jaguar I-TYPE 6 as the most successful race car on the grid in the 2023 season, and we are excited for both drivers to continue their role in the Jaguar TCS Racing family," he added.

Eriksson had recently expressed his hope in an interview that he would be able to work for the runner-up in the Team World Championship again this year. This hope has now been fulfilled.

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>>> New sponsor on the Andretti cars

[12.01. | 19:15] Guggenheim Partners, a global financial services investment and advisory firm based in New York City and Chicago, has become a new partner of the Andretti Formula E team. The firm has been associated with Andretti Global for more than a year when it was announced that Guggenheim would pay the Indianapolis-based team's $200 million Formula One entry fee.

According to a team press release, Guggenheim is the title sponsor of the customer Porsche and the Guggenheim logos are prominently displayed on the sidepods of the cars as well as on the drivers' overalls.

>>> Nissan publishes 1st part of Formula E manga series

[12.01. | 15:55] Nissan published a manga-style comic featuring its two drivers Sacha Fenestraz and Oliver Rowland on social media on Friday. "The Nismo Chronicles" are designed as a multi-part series. We are already very excited about the second part, but fear that we will have to wait until the Diriyah E-Prix.

>>> Argentinian racing licence for Sacha Fenestraz

[12.01. | 14:42] Nissan driver Sacha Fenestraz has secured an Argentinian racing licence for 2024. The Franco-Argentinian has always raced under the French flag in his career to date, including the 2024 Mexico City E-Prix according to the official entry list, but we expect this to be changed shortly.

This might surprise some long-time Formula E fans: Kamui Kobayashi contested the 2017 Hong Kong E-Prix for Andretti, and as his driver's licence was issued by the Automobile Club of Monaco (ACM), the Japanese driver was entered under the Monegasque flag. But unlike back then, Formula E has been an FIA World Championship for several years now, for which there are different rules.

According to the International Sporting Code, it is the nationality as shown on the ID document that is decisive and not the racing licence. Fenestraz, who was previously unaware of this himself, has now announced on X that he intends to compete under the Argentinian flag in the course of the year and has applied for a passport in Argentina for this purpose.

>>> Better communication: Jake Dennis sets up WhatApp group for Porsche drivers

[12.01. | 13:51] Formula E world champion Jake Dennis has set up a WhatsApp group to make it easier for Porsche drivers from the works team and the Andretti customer team to communicate. The Race reports. "Me and Pascal have actually spoken quite a bit," the Briton is quoted as saying. "I made a WhatsApp group between all four drivers, just to try and put our heads together as to where we think we can improve the car the most."

"That’s been really beneficial - and he’s been corresponding well inside of the group. It got unnecessarily heated last year; it didn’t need to get like that between the teams. This year will be much better from everyone," he continues.

>>> Porsche in Mexico with special "Provence" livery

[12.01. | 11:35] Porsche will compete in the 2024 season opener with a new design: Instead of red and black, the sides of the 99X Electric will be painted in the green-blueish colour "Provence" in Mexico City. In keeping with the special livery, Pascal Wehrlein's Halo protection bar reads "Change your look, not your style". For Antonio Felix da Costa, it simply reads "25.01.2024" instead.

It is obvious that Porsche has planned something special for this date that has to do with the new colour. What exactly will happen on the day before the Diriyah E-Prix has not yet been officially communicated. However, it is likely to be the premiere of the new Porsche Macan.

 
 
 
 
 
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>>> McLaren goes to battle, Dodds wants to join in with own mask

[11.01. | 21:45] The two McLaren drivers Sam Bird and Jake Hughes were given an insight into Mexican wrestling by two "luchadores" before the Mexico City E-Prix. They also fought against each other in a short show match - in the typical colourful masks of the wrestlers, of course.

Formula E CEO Jeff Dodds was obviously disappointed that Bird and Hughes were fighting without him. "Where was my invitation? I would have bought my own mask and everything," said the Brit on the short messaging service X (formerly Twitter). We think that would have been a bit unfair: After all, Dodds is significantly taller than the two McLaren drivers and probably also falls into a different weight class.

>>> McLaren signs Taylor Barnard as reserve driver

[11.01. | 18:20] New arrival at McLaren: The papaya-coloured team have signed the third Briton for their driver squad: Formula 3 driver Taylor Barnard will become the official development and reserve driver in 2024. Barnard, who finished runner-up in the German Formula 4 Championship in 2022, has already sat in the Gen3 car for McLaren during pre-season testing in Valencia, where he impressed with a seventh place finish.

>>> Hankook with coloured tread grooves in all 2024 races

[11.01. | 17:30] Hankook will provide the teams with all-weather tyres with coloured tread grooves at all E-Prix in 2024. Last year, the use of the coloured tyres was limited exclusively to races where the tyre manufacturer was also the title sponsor: Mexico City, Rome and London.

>>> Mahindra presents AI influencer & rows back

[11.01. | 14:45] Mahindra Racing unveiled a new team member on Tuesday ahead of the race weekend. The artificially generated "influencer" is the team's new ambassador for AI, it was initially announced. Over the course of the season, she should provide insights behind the scenes and also interact with drivers and the team. Mahindra wanted to "address new and existing target groups, inform and demonstrate how the technology (...) - "used correctly and ethically" - can change the planet for the better". An idea that backfired badly!

The Instagram post collected more than 1,000 mostly negative comments within 24 hours. The basic tenor: instead of combating the underrepresentation of women in motorsport with a real ambassador, an AI influencer is being used to create a pretty puppet that is controlled by the team. Especially the "ethically correct manner" was criticised.

On Thursday, Mahindra reacted and reversed course: the Instagram post was deleted. Team principal Frederic Bertrand released the following statement: "Promoting diversity, inclusion and innovation is at the heart of Mahindra Racing. Our AI Influencer programme has been developed with this innovation in mind. Your comments are of great value. We have listened, understood and decided to discontinue the project."

 
 
 
 
 
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>>> Ex-Juventus manager appointed Chief Revenue Officer

[11.01. | 12:00] Alberto Longo, Chief Championship Officer of Formula E, has been strengthened with immediate effect: Tiziana di Gioia has joined the team around the Spaniard as Chief Revenue Officer. The Italian has more than 15 years of experience in sports marketing and has previously worked for Ferrari in Formula 1 and for the Italian football club Juventus Turin. According to Formula E, in her role she will "focus on enhancing Formula E's global revenue streams, developing strategic partnerships and ensuring the championship continues to deliver unrivalled experiences for its growing fan base."

>>> Maserati: season starts without team principal

[11.01. | 10:30] Following the departure of James Rossiter, Maserati MSG Racing will start the season without an official team principal. As in Valencia, shareholder Jose Maria Aznar Botella - brother-in-law of Alejandro Agag - will continue to take over the post on an interim basis. Rossiter will still be on site in Mexico: he will join the English-speaking Formula E commentary team as an expert in 2024.

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>>> Nissan offsets CO2 & uses AI to further reduce footprint

[11.01. | 09:20] Nissan has offset all carbon dioxide emissions generated in the pre-season. To do this, the Formula E team worked with software company Coral to first calculate the emissions generated by travelling, waste and energy consumption in the factory and then purchased offset credits from VAXA Technologies.

VAXA produces food using a demonstrably carbon-negative process with clean energy and claims to use only 0.0001 per cent of the land and 0.015 per cent of the water required in conventional beef production. The partnership is set to continue in the coming years, with the aim of further reducing emissions with the help of artificial intelligence (AI), among other things.

>>> Backstreet Boys concert at the Diriyah E-Prix

[11.01. | 07:45] Just over two weeks before the two races, the organisers of the Diriyah E-Prix have presented the line-up for the concerts as part of the event. The main act this year will be the 90s band Backstreet Boys. There will also be concerts by Alesso and One Republic.

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