Formula E

Paddock Whispers: News ticker on all the important Formula E paddock topics in Sao Paulo

Tobias Wirtz

Tobias Wirtz

This weekend Formula E will be racing in Brazil for the very first time. As always, you can find out what else is keeping the paddock in Sao Paulo busy besides the track action in the latest edition of our popular "Paddock Whispers" series. We'll be updating this news ticker regularly throughout the weekend.

>> Cassidy takes off despite track paint

[03/25 | 20:02] After Antonio Felix da Costa took an involuntary flying dive on the straight after turn 3 in Friday's shakedown, officials reacted overnight: the dangerous spot was painted white to warn drivers of the bump. Nick Cassidy apparently didn't care: The Envision driver ran over the painted spot in the race and promptly took off from the ground with all four wheels. Fortunately, the incident had no consequences - Cassidy was able to claim his third consecutive podium.

 
 
 
 
 
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>> Samba riders parade in front of largely empty grandstands

[Mar 25 | 17:02] At its first E-Prix in Brazil, Formula E is apparently still struggling to excite the country's motorsport-mad fans: the drivers' parade on Saturday lunchtime, for example, took place in front of very sparsely populated grandstands at the Sambadrome. It is to be hoped that, with outside temperatures of more than 30 degrees, the fans only stayed in the shade to watch the race from the grandstands again. However, great enthusiasm for the long-awaited debut of the racing series in Brazil definitely looks different. According to official figures from Formula E, "more than 23,000" fans attended the E-Prix.

>> Emerson Fittipaldi & Felipe Massa visit Formula E

[03/25 | 16:38] Emerson Fittipaldi, Formula One world champion in 1972 and 1974, made an appearance in the paddock at the Sao Paulo E-Prix. Just like Ayrton Senna and Lucas di Grassi, "Emo" was born in Sao Paulo. Another familiar face was also seen in Sao Paulo: Felipe Massa, who drove a total of 24 races for Venturi from 2018 to 2020, paid a visit to the paddock in Brazil. Of course, a brief stopover at his old team, which now competes under the name Maserati MSG Racing, was not to be missed.

>> Leticia Bufoni guests in the paddock

[03/25 | 16:11] Sao Paulo-born professional skateboarder Leticia Bufoni was a guest in the Formula E paddock. The Brazilian won a total of six gold medals at the X-Games and became world champion in 2015. Last year, she embarked on a career in off-road motorsport, piloting a buggy in the Nitro Rallycross SxS. In Sao Paulo, she was allowed to sit in the passenger seat of the race series' safety car, piloted by Bruno Correia, for a few laps. Judging by the look on her face, she certainly seems to have had fun in the process.

>> Jake Hughes shows off his breakfast

[03/25 | 12:42] McLaren driver Jake Hughes has given insight into his breakfast habits in a Twitter video posted by his team. According to the video, the 28-year-old's typical breakfast consists of organic oatmeal, which he brings back from the UK, and hot water. "I would never say it looks delicious," Hughes describes, "but it's healthy. Call me Valtteri Bottas!" He then adds - in true British haute cuisine fashion - some dark mint chocolate over the gruel. We wish you bon appétit!

>> Felipe Nasr back in Formula E paddock

[03/25 | 09:58] Former Dragon Racing driver Felipe Nasr paid a visit to Formula E at the Sao Paulo E-Prix. At the time, Nasr replaced Maximilian Günther, who was actually seeded as a regular driver, for three races before leaving the series again without scoring a single point. Nasr is currently active in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, where he drives one of the two Porsche 963 LMDh prototypes entered by Penske Racing.

>> Lucas di Grassi's penchant for explosives

[25.03. | 09:03] As the father of Lucas di Grassi tells in an interview on the Mahindra Channel on Instagram, the Brazilian has always caused problems for his parents as a child. The cause was his passion for explosives, Vito di Grassi reports with a laugh. This even led to Lucas having to interrupt his racing career at the age of six or seven because of an "incident. You can read the whole story in our in-depth portrait on Lucas di Grassi from January 2022.

 
 
 
 
 
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>> Fabiana Flosi for "Girls on Track" on site

[03/25 | 02:46] Fabiana Flosi, vice president of sport at the FIA, the world's automotive governing body, and wife of ex-Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, was on hand Friday as part of the "Girls on Track" program. The former head of marketing for the Brazilian Grand Prix gave the girls insights into the world of motorsport in a lecture and also visited local hero Lucas di Grassi, among others.

>> Birthday cake for Gary Paffett

[03/24 | 23:31] McLaren team manager Gary Paffett celebrated his 42nd birthday in the paddock on Friday. His team did not miss the opportunity to present the Briton with a birthday cake, which he also partout did not want to share afterwards.

 
 
 
 
 
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>> Rubens Barrichello as a guest at Porsche

[03/24 | 21:15] Ex-Formula 1 driver Rubens Barrichello was spotted in the paddock on Friday. The 50-year-old was a guest in the Porsche pit and had Florian Modlinger, overall project manager for Formula E, explain the details of the Porsche 99X Electric.

In Germany, Barrichello, who was born in Sao Paulo, is predominantly known from his time at Ferrari, when he was a teammate of Michael Schumacher. Unforgotten is the radio message from then-team boss and later FIA president Jean Todt, who at the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix asked Barrichello, who was in the lead, to let Schumacher pass on the last lap of the race.

>> High energy penalty for pit lane start

[24.03. | 21:15] Drivers who start the race in Sao Paulo not from the grid, but from the pit lane, will get significantly deducted energy for it: instead of 40 kWh, they would have only 38.5 kWh available for their race. The reason for this unusually high deduction: although the starting line is on the same straight as the finish line, it lies behind the pit lane exit. So a driver starting the race from the pit lane would save more than 2.6 km of race distance.

>> Shakedown with "flyaways"

[24 Mar | 18:45] The obligatory shakedown before the Sao Paulo E-Prix went largely without incident worth mentioning. All drivers were allowed to complete three laps each at a greatly reduced power of 110 kW to test basic car functions and radio communication with the team around the circuit. Lap times are generally not published in the shakedown.

Nevertheless, the first spectacular images have already been seen, as several drivers lost contact with the asphalt on the bumpy back straight before the chicane. Particularly affected: Antonio Felix da Costa. The winner of the last race in Cape Town even took off with all four wheels on a particularly pronounced bump - with 110 kW of power! How might that just look in qualifying with 350 kW?

>> Resurfacing the track potentially problematic

[Mar 24 | 16:50] The asphalt in the track area of the Anhembi Sambadrome has shone in part strikingly during the track inspection on Friday. This is due to re-asphalting that has been done in the past two weeks. "When you apply bitumen, the oily components of the tar and the bitumen separate," Jaguar technical director Phil Charles described to 'The Race.'

However, he expects problems only in the rain: "If you have a very smooth asphalt and the oil comes out, it can be difficult in the wet." According to the current weather forecast, however, that is not expected to happen: There is exactly a 0 percent chance of precipitation.

>> Di Grassi with Senna-inspired helmet design

[03/24 | 16:28] Mahindra driver Lucas di Grassi will contest the Sao Paulo E-Prix with a special helmet design: the local hero has taken inspiration from the design of his hero Ayrton Senna's headgear.

>> ABT Cupra: "Guess who's back"

[24.03. | 16:07] ABT Cupra takes a cue from the Porsche factory team: the team from Kempten also uses the halo bar of its Gen3 bolide to spread messages. "Guess who's back" is written on Robin Frijns' vehicle in Sao Paulo. But whether that can help the only team still without points to close the gap on the Weissach squad leading the overall standings is questionable.

>> Jake Dennis gets attacked by palm

[03/24 | 15:52] Andretti driver Jake Dennis narrowly escaped an "assassination attempt" in Sao Paulo: during joint video recordings with teammate Andre Lotterer in the paddock, a palm tree blown over by the wind missed the Briton by mere centimeters. As the team revealed shortly afterwards, Dennis was even to blame for the mishap: He had placed the pot with the palm tree there himself during preparations for the shoot.

>> Fenestraz chats about racing driver flatshare with Lando Norris

[03/24 | 15:38] Nissan driver Sacha Fenestraz has chatted about shared life with current McLaren F1 driver Lando Norris in a Formula E video. "We had two race simulators in the living room," the Frenchman describes. "We drove simulators all day. I wouldn't say we lived the healthiest life, but we had fun. It was a great year."

>> Pressure mounts on Maserati driver

[03/24 | 15:19] James Rossiter, team principal of Maserati MSG Racing, has had enough of the driving errors of his drivers Maximilian Günther and Edoardo Mortara. "There have been too many of them this year, there's no denying that," the Briton told 'The Race'. "That has to stop if we want to achieve anything."

"We have the speed - now we just need to make sure we have a mistake-free weekend," Rossiter further described. "If that means we have to back off a little bit in the race and can take home a fifth-place finish, that's what we should be doing right now." In the Sao Paulo preview of our podcast format ePod, one of our editors at least already guessed at a Mortara win in Brazil...

>> Brazilian racing drivers not speaking well of Felix da Costa

[Mar 24 | 15:01] Porsche driver Antonio Felix da Costa is looking forward to the first E-Prix in Brazil, even if he personally associates the country with mixed experiences. "Since Formula E doesn't race in Portugal, Sao Paulo is already something like my home race. I love Brazil," he describes. The former colony of Portugal is the only country in South America where Portuguese is spoken.

"I race a stock car there every year and I always get a very warm welcome from the fans," Felix da Costa continues. "The drivers, on the other hand, aren't quite as responsive to me because I usually win or at least finish on the podium. Nevertheless, I get on well with everyone," he smiles.

>> Sette Camara on home race with special design

[Mar 24 | 14:44] Nio 333 driver Sergio Sette Camara has a specially designed headgear at his home E-Prix: the 24-year-old is using it to honor the Atletico Mineiro soccer club from his hometown of Belo Horizonte, which was founded on March 25, 1908 - 115 years to the day before the E-Prix.

>> Report: Mahindra already experiencing suspension problems in fall

[24.03. | 14:44] As reported by 'The Race', there are said to have been problems with the rear suspension at Mahindra long before the Cape Town E-Prix. Thus, during the joint manufacturer test in Varano, which took place in September, problems with the wishbone are said to have occurred twice. As a result, adjustments were made to the affected parts, but they were apparently insufficient.

According to information from colleagues, parts of the Mahindra suspension are said to be made of titanium. By using the metal, the Indians want to save weight. However, one of the disadvantages of titanium compared to classic steel components is its lower torsional stiffness. It is unclear, however, whether the parts affected in Cape Town were made of titanium.

>> McLaren visits Senna grave

[Mar 24 | 14:18] The McLaren team has visited the Cemiterio do Morumbi ahead of the Sao Paulo E-Prix. The cemetery, located about 20 kilometers from the Anhembi Sambadrome, is home to the grave of Ayrton Senna da Silva.

Senna, together with McLaren, won the Formula One World Championship three times and the Monaco Grand Prix six times between 1988 and 1993 before moving to Williams and suffering a fatal accident in San Marino on May 1, 1994. McLaren built a total of 500 examples of a supercar called the "McLaren Senna" from 2018 to 2019, which Jake Hughes and Rene Rast also took a closer look at during a visit to McLaren Brazil.

>> Porsche: out for F1 project, but staying in Formula E?

[24.03. | 13:45] After the bounced takeover of 50 percent of the shares of the Formula 1 racing team Red Bull Racing, it has become quiet about Porsche's efforts to enter the "premier class of motorsport". As the colleagues of 'The Race' report, the focus of the Zuffenhausen-based company is said to have shifted in the meantime. In addition to a return to the Le Mans 24 Hours with the Porsche 963 LMDh race car, a continuation of the Formula E factory program is also said to be planned. So far, the German manufacturer has only signed up until 2024, the end of the tenth season.

only until 2024, the end of the tenth season.

>> Berlin E-Prix: 1st Artist confirmed for supporting program

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[24.03. | 12:55] We take a look ahead: after the race in Sao Paulo, the Berlin E-Prix is already on the schedule in four weeks. The organizers of the Formula E race in Germany have now confirmed the first artist for the supporting program: German soul and pop singer Ayliva will perform at the Allianz Fan Village on Sunday before the race starts. The singer, who hails from Recklinghausen, has appeared on stage in Berlin and Mannheim as a support act on Alicia Keys' 2022 world tour, among others.

>> Formula E supports charity run on World Down Syndrome Day

[Mar 24 | 12:19] Formula E has supported Instituto Olga Kos' charity run of ten kilometers through Sao Paulo ahead of the Sao Paulo E-Prix. Lucas di Grassi was on hand in his hometown along with a Gen3 show car from the racing series. World Down Syndrome Day has been held annually on March 21 since 2006. On that day, events are organized around the world to raise public awareness about Down syndrome.

>> Fast charging from Berlin E-Prix? FIA remains unspecific

[Mar 24 | 11:42] As reported by colleagues at 'The Race', a Formula E official is said to have announced at an event hosted by title sponsor ABB in Cape Town that the racing series is planning to introduce fast-charging pit stops for the Berlin E-Prix. When asked by 'e-Formel.de', an FIA spokesperson replied, "We are of course working hand in hand with Formula E, the manufacturers and the teams on the introduction of 'Attack Charge' later in the season, but there is no confirmed date yet."

>> Mahindra visits Indian Formula Student team

[Mar 24 | 10:58] Mahindra Racing has visited the Indian Formula Student team AXLR8R Formula Racing with its Gen3 show car. The team, made up of students from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Delhi, learned a lot about Formula E before having a go at the Mahindra racing simulator itself.

>> Di Grassi & Sette Camara play footvolley

[Mar 24 | 10:22] Brazilian Formula E drivers Lucas di Grassi and Sergio Sette Camara have had a footvolley training session with champions Bello and Souza ahead of their home race. You can see how the two racers fared at the trendy Brazilian sport - a cross between soccer and beach volleyball - in this video.

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>> Departure No. 1: Engineering chief Nick Chester leaves McLaren

[03/24 | 10:22] Prominent departure at McLaren: Engineering boss Nick Chester has left the Formula E team in February. The Briton is moving to Andretti, where he is to prepare the U.S. team's Formula 1 entry as head of engineering - incidentally at the team's Formula E site in Banbury.

Chester has around 30 years' experience in motorsport: after five years as a race engineer at Arrows, he moved to Benetton in 2000. He remained with the team even after it was taken over by Renault and later by Lotus, where he rose to the position of technical director. In July 2020, he moved to Formula E team Mercedes-EQ, where he remained engineering director after the team was sold to McLaren. With Chester, Renault won the drivers' and constructors' championships twice each in Formula 1, and Mercedes also won both world championship titles twice each with Chester in Formula E.

>> Exit No. 2: Presenter Vernon Kay moves to BBC

[24.03. | 09:02] Formula E has another departure to report: Presenter Vernon Kay, who had been a permanent member of the race series' presenting team for the English-language world signal since 2017, is leaving Formula E after the Monaco E-Prix, according to colleagues at 'The Race'. Instead, Kay will succeed Ken Bruce at BBC Radio 2. Prior to this season, co-commentator and expert Dario Franchitti had already left Formula E. He was replaced by ex-Formula E drivers Oliver Askew and Nelson Piquet Jr. on a rotating basis for the first races of the season.

>> Report: London plans Formula One race at Formula E location

[03/24 | 08:17] Will Formula E become a staging post for Formula 1 in the British capital? According to a report from 'FormulaRapida.net', plans are said to be underway to stage a "London Grand Prix" for the first time in August 2026. The 5.9-kilometer track is also to run around the ExCeL exhibition halls in the Royal Victoria Dock area. In Formula E, one of the exhibition halls is permanently integrated into the layout of the circuit: The e-racing series has been racing here since 2021 on a hybrid course consisting of an indoor and an outdoor section. However, this will continue to be reserved exclusively for Formula E.

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