Paddock Whispers: News ticker on all the important off-track topics at Formula E in Saudi Arabia
Only two weeks after the season opener, Formula E will hold its second and third races of the season this weekend in Diriyah (Saudi Arabia). As always, you can find out what else is going on in the paddock besides the action on the track in the latest edition of our popular "Paddock Whispers" series. We will update this news ticker regularly over the course of the weekend.
>>> Chassis not safe: Envision withdraws Buemi's car
[26.01. | 15:30] Sebastien Buemi will not be able to compete in Saturday's race in Diriyah: The Envision team withdrew the car shortly after the end of qualifying. "Following damage sustained during qualifying, the FIA have examined the chassis and determined that it is not safe to start," said the team in a statement. All drivers who would have started behind Buemi on the grid will therefore move up one position.
>>> Backstreet Boys performance: McLaren counters!
[26.01. | 14:57] McLaren have obviously caught Backstreet Boys fever from Envision. In an insta-reel of the papaya-coloured team, team boss Ian James can be seen watching this morning's Envision reel. However, when one of the Envision mechanics takes over part number five after Robin Frijns' intervention, he protests: "He's not number 5, you're number 5," he says to Jake Hughes, who is sitting next to him. What happens next? See for yourself...
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>>> Looking forward to the concert this evening: Envision performs Backstreet Boys song
[26.01. | 11:08] Envision Racing seems to be looking forward to tonight's concert by the Backstreet Boys in Diriyah. In an insta-reel, several team members sang parts of the song "I want it that way". Part number 4 was performed by the driver with start number 4, Robin Frijns.
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>>> Battery change for Frijns and Wehrlein
[26.01. | 17:15] Apparently there are technical problems at Envision and Porsche: The colleagues of FE Notebook report from Diriyah that the batteries in the cars of Robin Frijns and Pascal Wehrlein have to be changed between qualifying and the race. Let's hope that both drivers will be able to take part in the race.
>>> Bet at McLaren: Jake Hughes soon to be blonde too?
[26.01. | 16:43] According to our Italian colleague Mattia Eccheli, McLaren driver Sam Bird's new look has prompted an internal bet at McLaren: if Jake Hughes wins in Diriyah, we will also see the second Briton with blond hair in the paddock. Team boss Ian James, however, unfortunately did not want to take part in the bet.
>>> Flying sparks welcome: All cars get new floors for Diriyah races
[26.01. | 15:31] As we have learnt from Diriyah, there is a new feature on all 22 cars on the grid: A new floor has been fitted to the cars for the two races in Saudi Arabia. With titanium skid blocks fitted underneath, this is designed to create sparks when the cars touch the ground. This is a change that several drivers had already instigated around a year ago.
It is hoped that this will produce spectacular images, especially in the race, which takes place in the dark. The effect could already be observed in the first free practice session on Thursday evening, but in our opinion it was not yet particularly spectacular...
>>> Adrien Brody drives Gen3 racing car
[26.01. | 10:31] Actor Adrien Brody was allowed to drive the Gen3 demo car of the racing series in Diriyah. After a few laps in the safety car, the Oscar-winning actor climbed into the Formula E car. "There’s so much torque in these electric vehicles and they are so incredibly light, so it takes a really refined touch to feather it through the turns, and keep it from getting squirrely even gunning it down the straightaway," Brody said after his test drive.
>>> Throttle map: FIA issues clarification
[26.01. | 08:57] Ahead of the Diriyah E-Prix, the FIA has issued a clarification of the regulations relating to the investigation into Pascal Wehrlein and Jake Dennis in Mexico. The FIA sensors in the cars had already registered unusual values at the start of the race, which is why several FIA technicians carried out investigations together with the manufacturer. These were stopped several hours after the end of the race as there was no evidence of a breach of the rules.
With this clarification, the FIA wants to prevent teams from using an automatic start system, as had been suspected at Porsche. The rules do not explicitly prohibit such an automatic system, so Porsche has probably exploited a loophole here. Porsche team boss Florian Modlinger's statements to The Race also point to this: "I didn’t know what an advantage is and what is not because I don’t know what the others are doing. I only can say that we are reading the regulations carefully and we act according to the regulations. This was also proved by the stewards."
>>> PIF to build 7 Formula E kart tracks in Saudi Arabia
[26.01. | 07:36] The Saudi state fund PIF, the new major sponsor of the Formula E, Extreme E and E1 Series electric racing series since a few days, is planning to build seven Formula E branded kart tracks in the country. The racing series announced this in a press release on Friday morning. The PIF subsidiary Saudi Entertainment Venues (SEVEN) will build kart tracks, each more than 400 metres long, with Formula E branding in new entertainment centres in the cities of Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and Abha. A total of 21 entertainment centres are to be built in 14 cities in the Kingdom.
The world’s FIRST Formula E Karting attraction in Saudi Arabia ⚡️?— Formula E (@FIAFormulaE) January 26, 2024
Ahead of the #DiriyahEPrix, Formula E has announced a partnership with Saudi Entertainment Ventures to build the world’s first Formula E branded indoor karting centers in SEVEN locations ?@Saudi_Seven
>>> Formula E season opener generates record figures worldwide
[25.01. | 19:41] The season opener for the tenth Formula E season, which took place a fortnight ago, has generated record figures in some markets: in the USA, for example, there was a record 3.4 million viewers, beating the previous best figure set in New York City in 2021. In the UK - where the race was broadcast by TNT Sports for the first time - the number of viewers increased by 29 per cent compared to the previous year. The race series' social media channels (+205 per cent) and the official Formula E website also achieved record ratings.
>>> Wooden artwork: Large trophy replica at the track
[25.01. | 09:02] As can be seen in the first pictures from our photo partner Spacesuit Media from Diriyah, there is a large replica of the Formula E winner's trophy. The artwork was obviously made of wood. We do not yet have any further information.
>>> Sette Camara failure: investigations still ongoing
[24.01. | 20:16] The investigation into the technical problem with Sergio Sette Camara's car that prevented him from starting in Mexico is still ongoing. This is reported by the colleagues at FE Notebook. The battery, the suspected cause of the problem, has been removed from the vehicle and quarantined. "I never want to go near this thing again," says Sette Camara. It is not yet known when exactly the return transport to battery manufacturer WAE was possible.
>>> McLaren to stay with Nissan until 2026
[24.01. | 19:20] While ABT Cupra has cancelled its contract with powertrain supplier Mahindra, the partnership between Nissan and McLaren will continue as planned. The British team has not exercised an exit clause in the contract, which runs until the twelfth season (2025/26), reports The Race. "We are very happy with the partnership so far," team principal Ian James is quoted - a statement that James and McLaren CEO Zak Brown had already made in a media roundtable in the summer.
>>> High security standards after military strikes against Huthi rebels
[24.01. | 18:03] Security measures in Diriyah have been increased following last week's airstrikes, reports FE Notebook. British and US troops carried out targeted strikes against the Huthi rebels in Yemen and on the Red Sea. The Diriyah E-Prix already made headlines in 2021 because Yemeni Houthi rebels carried out missile attacks on the Saudi capital Riyadh after the race.
>>> Felix da Costa makes fun of Nato
[24.01. | 17:32] Porsche works driver Antonio Felix da Costa got a kick out of Andretti driver Norman Nato signing autograph cards in the paddock at the media day in Diriyah. "Have you got another one? I need to go to the toilet," said the Portuguese driver to his colleague. Toilet paper seems to have been in short supply in the paddock...
>>> McLaren goes swimming
[24.01. | 16:55] McLaren drivers Jake Hughes and Sam Bird have been preparing for the Diriyah E-Prix with their team principal Ian James in Neom - title sponsor of the McLaren team in Formula E and Extreme E - by taking part in water sports. While Hughes had to paddle alone, the blonde-haired Bird and James shared a boat. Everyone was then allowed to go it alone in the subsequent stand-up paddling. Of course, all three ended up in the water.
>>> SEVENTEEN: Maserati MSG launches sustainability campaign
[24.01. | 16:03] In line with the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the Monegasque team Maserati MSG Racing has launched a new campaign for greater sustainability. Throughout the season, the team will carry out innovation projects at the racetrack, engaging with local teenagers affected by climate change. At the same time, the team also wants to make the global motorsport audience aware of problems and inform them about the urgency of change.
>>> No Attack Charge test in Saudi Arabia either
[24.01. | 15:49] Following a test of the Attack Charge chargers in Mexico, the announced test in Diriyah has been suspended, according to a report by FE Notebook. The reason for this is said to be technical problems that occurred with the chargers at the season opener. In addition, the covers of the charging sockets of some teams in Mexico City are said to have broken. A written enquiry that e-Formula.news submitted to the FIA on this topic on Tuesday has not yet been answered.
>>> Diriyah E-Prix to run entirely on biodiesel
[24.01. | 15:22] The Diriyah E-Prix will run entirely on electricity from renewable sources this year: Formula E announced that it will use only pure biodiesel (B100) to power the event in Saudi Arabia.
>>> With a delay: Andretti shows Mexico City sneaker
[24.01. | 14:41] Andretti has had sneakers designed and hand-painted by local artist Luis Guate for the season opener in the Mexican capital. We can't say why the team didn't show the successful shoes on social media until a week after the race.
That detail though ?- Andretti Formula E (@AndrettiFE) January 21, 2024
Luis' special Andretti #MexicoCityEPrix sneaker design combined our team's colours and identity with important elements of the Mexican culture, such as the Aztec calendar and Huichol art! ?? pic.twitter.com/iK27IoB94r