The #LondonEPrix – A Fan’s Experience

Formula eDiary

James Hedges is a London based motorsport enthusiast who attended the final round of the FIA Formula E season. Did the event live up to his expectations?


james bird podium

A near sell out crowd of 30,000 spectators attending the penultimate and final round of the inaugural Formula E Championship at Battersea Park; which marked London’s first street race since 1972, when Formula 2 cars raced around Crystal Palace.  The atmosphere around the venue was very relaxing, more so than most other motorsport events such as Formula One or the World Endurance Championship, with the turnout a mix of hardcore motorsport enthusiasts, local residents seeing their local park transformed into a temporary racing circuit, and whole families – the low pricing for this event widened the appeal of the race and attracted a range of spectators across various demographics.

Despite being one of the criticisms of the series, the lack of noise from the…

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A clear indication that F1 doesn’t understand social media, or its fans

“People blame Bernie for not moving into social media. I don’t blame him at all because he can’t monetise it. You have TV stations and media partners who pay you for exclusive content so why do you want anything to do with social media making it for free.”

Those are the words of Mercedes F1 team boss Toto Wolff.

It is the clearest indication yet that while businesses around the world have grasped the benefits of social media for building brand reputation, increasing sales and dealing with customer complaints, F1 – the self-proclaimed cutting-edge of motorsport – is sadly archaic in its views.

Today I feel it necessary to dispel some of the myths about social media perpetuated by Bernie Ecclestone and senior figures in the F1 paddock, as frankly the fans deserve so much better that the cold indifference shown to them at present.

Media making money

Let’s start…

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Gene’s Genies

The Buxton Blog

Gunther Steiner and Gene Haas Italian Grand Prix 2014 c/o James Moy Photography Gunther Steiner and Gene Haas
Italian Grand Prix 2014
c/o James Moy Photography

Gene Haas, it seems, is doing pretty much everything right. A methodical approach to entering the Piranha pool that is Formula 1 has seen him strike up key alliances and build the solid foundations upon which, finally and unlike the last four teams granted a license, we may see a new team enter the sport with a fighting chance of scoring points.

But all of this hard work and disciplined enterprise comes to naught without the soft fleshy bit of the equation between the pedals and the engine being as quick and reliable as the mechanical parts. So who will Gene Haas choose to drive his cars, and why won’t it be Danica Patrick?

Danica Patrick c/o www.danicapatrick.com Danica Patrick
c/o http://www.danicapatrick.com

Well, let’s start with Patrick. Haas has insinuated, again, that Patrick isn’t off the table for consideration but if…

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Ayrton Senna : 21.03.60 – 01.05.94

What could have been…

F1 Paddock Pass

We remember the date. Perhaps where we were. We remember that moment in time when the motorsport world held its collective breath and then grieved as one… the passing of the legendary Ayrton Senna. A nation in mourning, a family devastated and a name immortalised forever.

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In the past twenty one years, there has been a huge amount written about Ayrton Senna. Over 100 books have been written about his life and death, we’ve had a BAFTA winning film produced, countless other documentaries and theories delivered on that fateful accident. Anyone who has followed the @F1PaddockPass Twitter feed will know that Ayrton was one of my childhood heroes. For a long time, it wasn’t the same without him and I’ve often wondered over the years: what would it have been like if he walked away from that accident on lap seven?

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Imagine, if you will the sight above.

Moments before…

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An F1 seat via the Courtroom

What a mess Sauber find themselves in. Geido van der Garde’s case against Sauber, for breaching the terms of his contract has been successful, pending appeal. 

Rumours that van der Garde would have a seat at Sauber for 2015 started back before the epic 2014 Bahrain GP in April by Motorsport Magazine, who stated that the former Caterham driver had some extremely wealthy Dutch backers behind him to help secure a seat. Clearly for Sauber they were not wealthy enough, as they opted for another Caterham driver in Marcus Ericcson with Swedish corporate backers, and Banco do Brasil supported Felipe Nasr, who moved up from GP2 and after his test and development role at Williams.

If the result of Thursday evening’s (in the UK) appeal goes in Geido’s favour, then this would open a huge can of worms. This could lead to 2013 Sauber driver Adrian Sutil opening up a similar case should he feel just as aggrieved, he suggested last year that he still had a contract in place with Sauber by saying,

“They’ve confirmed two drivers but that doesn’t mean they can drive and it doesn’t mean the team’s going to drive.”

Should one of Felipe Nasr or Marcus Ericsson be pushed out of a seat in favour of VDG, then one would expect a counter case supported by their respected sponsors. These companies have invested tens of millions of pounds in support, at the very least they would want any money paid to Sauber refunded should their driver be unable to race for Sauber.

Either way this will inflict serious damage to the future of Sauber. The Swiss team scored zero points in 2014 and were beaten to 9th place by Marussia, meaning that they missed out on millions of pounds of prize money – one could see why they needed to opt for two ‘pay drivers’. The loss of either Nasr or Ericcson, and any possible future law suits would make an even bigger dent to Sauber’s finances.

Monisha Kaltenborn’s position as Sauber CEO must also be called into question. At present she has violated the terms of at least one of her employee’s contracts, and thrown the team and sport into disrepute. No doubt the sport’s media will have a field day during Friday’s team principal’s press conference. All this case does though is highlight the bigger problem of the state of finances in F1, and what teams need to do to survive. Reports such as those saying the van der Garde only found out that about Nasr’s drive by easing the press release shows that Sauber haven’t handled this very well, but having the situation where one heavily backed driver is being replaced by one with even greater finances is what the sport needs to avoid.

I know most of this is pure speculation with the result of Sauber’s appeal not being decided until later today, and the potential loss of another team in F1 is not what fans want to see, but it is important to know the potential ramifications of this case and how they could have been avoided in the first place.

Autosport International Autograph Signings

The first of the two public days of Autosport International has started, and here is the information you need for the driver signings.

Signings are available to those with a Paddock Pass, which is available for £10 extra in tip of your regular ticket, which you can buy on the day.

Signing sessions are usually quite short, around 10-15 minutes long, so to avoid disappointment with some of the top stars like David Coulthard and Anthony Davidson I would recommend arriving at least 15 minutes before the start of the session.

Below are the autograph signing times for both Saturday and Sunday – enjoy!

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Nothing Lasts Forever

The Buxton Blog

Marussia V Caterham Italian GP 2014 c/o James Moy Photography Marussia V Caterham
Italian GP 2014
c/o James Moy Photography

The plight of the Caterham and Marussia F1 teams is a sorry state of affairs. That two teams should reportedly be placed into administration within a month of each other is deeply troubling even if it is not, in all honesty, a tremendous surprise. It is very sad for the team’s hard working employees and for their many fans. But for anyone to pretend that this is some new phenomenon and that it should not be permitted to happen is utterly absurd. If success is the barometer against which all racing entities are judged, then failure is inherent in the very DNA of the sport.

In the 64 year history of Formula 1, 164 teams have existed. Today, including Caterham and Marussia, 11 survive. 153 teams have thus failed within that time period. That’s an average of a little over…

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