The designer behind the livery

Edward Couldwell

 

Just as in F1, as well as a new season comes a brand new car in the form of the Gen2 and for Envision Virgin Racing, Audi’s e-tron FE05.

With an all-new exterior to contend with, and a new team identity, just how do you go about designing this and moving a plain, carbon fibre bodywork to an impressive, eye-catching livery. Well, at Envision Virgin Racing, head designer Ed Couldwell explains how he did just that…

Firstly, can you tell us a little about you and your design background?
“I’ve always had a wild imagination combined with a curiosity for how things work, so design seemed like an obvious choice. I studied Industrial Design at Loughborough University but was more distracted by rowing at the time! After graduating I worked on any project that came my way for a variety of companies before getting the opportunity to work at the team.”

When and how did the design process begin?
“Excited by the task of creating my first car livery, I started by playing around with concepts last December – more than 12 months ago – just having fun with it with no particular direction. At this point the Gen2 car had yet to be officially released so it was mostly guess work. One of the greatest challenges with livery design is the number of shareholders involved. This was no exception, so I spent a lot of time thinking about the strategy and purpose behind the livery, dissecting the various elements that would make it a success.”

What was your inspiration behind the livery?
“I wanted to create something that would celebrate our new owner, Envision Group, whilst retaining the spirit of the Virgin brand. I explored the architecture of both brands, as well as the role of a livery within the context of a racing environment, looking into what might influence a spectator’s perception of the car. I arrived at the silver half-tone pattern from looking at how Envision Group communicates its various technologies. This was positioned over the powertrain and represented a flow of energy contrasting with the team’s historic purple, not forgetting the accents of the famous Virgin Red.”

Were there many versions before you settled on a final one?
“Yes, over 150! Enough said.”

Did the final version on the car look the way you pictured it?
“Yes and no. The design was constantly evolving as we experimented with different ideas. Seeing the finished car for the first time felt like another step in that process versus realising the end product.”

And finally, were you happy with it?!?
“Yes, but as any designer will know you just can’t help but think of ways you could improve it.”

Envision Virgin Racing, Audi e-tron FE05

Sam Bird

Robin Frijns

The next generation

Having written about the business and technology in and around the fast developing world of F1 for quite a while, I realise how important it is to make sure you’re on top of the talent you must have in your ranks just to stand still. This is why I’ve been a keen supporter of the ‘trades’ as well as the current and emerging generations of engineers working their way (perhaps unwittingly) into the sport – these days to F1 and Formula E.

This has been particularly noticeable not just from my time writing for a wide range of specialist and national publications, including the odd book, but also editing AV Magazine (mainly F1) and Electronics Weekly especially with Formula E, as its BrightSparks programme (with the support of RS Components) encourages interest in electronics/engineering from schools and universities.

The diversity of some of the brightest people I’ve had the pleasure to be associated with has filled me with huge optimism for the future occurring, as it does, alongside (but not dominated by) the doom and gloom surrounding all the chat about Brexit from a very Westminster-centric angle.

Don’t be fooled. The future for F1, from an engineering perspective at least, looks very promising indeed.

Mercedes Benz to enter Formula E, pulling out of DTM

 

The company will conclude its participation in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) touring car series at the end of 2018 and enter Formula E for the 2019/20 season (5).

Since the DTM was founded in 1988, there have been 26 racing seasons during which Mercedes-Benz has won 10 drivers’, 13 team and six manufacturer titles (DTM + ITC – International Touring Car championship – combined).

Electric mobility is already of strategic importance to the company and this will only increase. Formula E offers a perfect platform on which to demonstrate the competitiveness of MB’s technology brand EQ in a racing environment, in the area of battery electric powertrains. (EQ stands for ‘electric intelligence’).

“Mercedes-Benz will market future battery powered electric vehicles using the EQ label,” said Dr Jens Thiemer, the company’s Vice-President of Marketing earlier today. “Formula E is a significant step in order to demonstrate the performance of our battery powered electric vehicles, as well as giving an emotional spin to our EQ technology brand through motorsport and marketing.”

Merging the formulae

Says Toto Wolff: “In motorsport like in every other area, we want to be the benchmark in the premium segment and to explore innovative new projects. The combination of Formula 1 and Formula E delivers that.

“Formula E is like an exciting start-up venture: it offers a brand new format, combining racing with a strong event character, in order to promote current and future technologies. Electrification is happening in the road car world and Formula E offers manufacturers an interesting platform to bring this technology to a new audience – and to do so with a completely new kind of racing, different to any other series.

“I am pleased that we were able to extend our entry option for one year to the 2019/20 season. This gives us time to properly understand the series and to prepare for our entry in the right way.”

Slight aside, but it’s important

Williams Advanced Engineering has received the Consultancy of the Year award at the 2016 British Engineering Excellence Awards.

Sponsored by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Consultancy of the Year is awarded to an organisation demonstrating innovative and timely solutions to engineering problems posed to them by their customers.

WAE has delivered on a number of high profile projects over the past 12 months, including supplying the batteries to the Formula E racing series, creating the Jaguar C-X75 hypercar for the Bond film SPECTRE, and developing the fully electric Aston Martin RapidE and Nissan BladeGlider concept cars. What’s more, the company has seen its Formula One-inspired technologies and know-how introduced into a growing range of sectors such as automotive, motorsport, energy, defence, and healthcare.

It’s healthy, and only right we acknowledge engineering excellence. Many congratulations to the whole team.

Mercedes to enter Formula E

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Toto Wolff and Alejandro Agag agree to reserve an entry in the electric championship for Mercedes.

Now there’s a thought…

I hear that Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd (MGP) and Formula E Operations Ltd have signed an agreement by which Mercedes takes an option to enter the FIA Formula E Championship in Season 5. According to the option agreement, Mercedes may choose to be one of the maximum of 12 entries to be proposed by the Championship Promoter to the FIA to enter the 2018-19 Formula E Championship.

Mercedes could take one of the two new entries that will be allocated in season five – subject to approval of the FIA – when the all-electric racing series goes from the current format of two cars per driver, to a single car for the entire event.

The current 10 teams in Formula E are all expected to continue in Season 5 and beyond, on their current format, or joining forces with other OEM’s.

Alejandro Agag (Formula E’s chief exec) said: “We are delighted to confirm that we have reserved one of our two new entries in Season 5 for MGP. Formula E wants to become the platform where car manufacturers test and develop the technologies that they will then introduce on their road cars. Having the chance to include in the future a brand like Mercedes our Championship would be a major boost to achieve that objective.

“Formula E is becoming an exciting mix of consolidated manufacturers like Renault, Citroen-DS, Audi, Mahindra or Jaguar, and new futuristic brands like Faraday Future, NextEV, or the likes of major component manufacturers like Schaeffler and ZF. Mercedes would be a great addition to that growing line up.”

And Toto Wolff: “We have been watching the growth of Formula E with great interest. At the current time, we are looking at all the options available in the future of motor racing, and we are very pleased with an agreement that secures us an opportunity to enter the series in Season 5.

“Electrification will play a major role in the future of the automotive industry. Racing has always been a technology R&D platform for industry and this will make Formula E very relevant in the future.”

Formula E: Di Grassi wins in Putrajaya

Brazil's Lucas Di Grassi (ABT Audi Sport FE01) celebrates on the podium with Sam Bird (DS Virgin Racing DSV-01) and Robin Frijns (Andretti - Spark SRT_01E). Photo: Zak Mauger/LAT

Brazil’s Lucas Di Grassi (ABT Audi Sport FE01) celebrates on the podium with Sam Bird (DS Virgin Racing DSV-01) and Robin Frijns (Andretti – Spark SRT_01E). Photo: Zak Mauger/LAT

 

Lucas di Grassi claimed his second FIA Formula E Championship win in a race at Putrajaya in Malaysia that was packed with incident from start to finish.

Even before the race had started Stephane Sarrazin was in trouble as his Venturi cut out on the dummy grid. With the Frenchman unable to take up his place on the front row alongside the Julius Baer Pole Position winner Sebastien Buemi, the start had to be delayed as he was pushed to the back of the field.

With no one directly alongside him, Buemi had a clear run into the first corner, and as was the case in the season-opener in Beijing, the Renault e.dams driver pulled away into a comfortable lead. But this would be no back-to-back win for the Swiss, as his car ground to a halt as the race neared its mid-way point.

With Buemi’s car stopped on track, the team opted to pit his team mate Nicolas Prost as this point, as he had also been suffering with his car cutting out. The early pitstop ensured the Frenchman took over the lead after the mid-race car swaps took place, but as he had to make his energy last for longer than his rivals, combined with his car troubles he was unable to prevent the trailing pack from passing him.

Di Grassi took over in second following the pitstop phase, but only because Dragon Racing’s Loic Duval suffered an over-long stop. The Frenchman had briefly held the lead following Buemi’s troubles, but was now behind not only di Grassi but the Team Aguri car of Antonio Felix da Costa too.

As Prost struggled with his car cutting out, di Grassi made his move for the lead. Behind them Da Costa and Duval entertainingly disputed third. Eventually both found a way by the Renault e.dams and Duval started to close in on the leader. But when a damper broke in the suspension of his car, his great run was ended and di Grassi was left unpressured at the front and duly collected the win.

“You can see how difficult the conditions were with the amount of sand I have in my eye, the amount of sand I have in the car,” he admitted. “It was an extremely tough race, mainly determined by battery temperature. But gladly we managed it better than the others, we did a fantastic job. The team in the background did a perfect job with the strategy and we managed to claim the victory and I’m now the leader in the championship.”

After a mistake in qualifying and a brush with the wall, DS Virgin’s Sam Bird started back in 14th. But the 2014 Putrajaya ePrix winner has an affinity with the circuit, and while those around him were having troubles he was able to concentrate on driving his own race, staying out of trouble and when Jerome D’Ambrosio crashed out of second place for Dragon on the final lap, the Brit inherited the runner-up spot.

“I’m absolutely chuffed,” he beamed. “This one is for the boys at Virgin – I don’t think that too many people know that before the race we were down in the dumps because I didn’t think we were going to finish the race because we only had one battery in the car. The Virgin boys fixed the car so quick, this is for the Virgin boys! If people don’t say Formula E is exciting, then I think they didn’t watch that race. It was carnage, but cool carnage. It’s a series that people should watch because that’s fantastic racing, it’s unreal.”

 

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Da Costa’s great run for Aguri ended when his car cut-out too, which handed a podium finish to Andretti’s Robin Frijns. However, the Dutchman was exceptionally fortunate to finish the race after clouting the wall as he made a passing move on the hobbled Duval.

Even though the suspension and steering were deranged, he somehow kept the car pointing in the right direction and crawled over the line for his first Formula E podium.

“I felt like I was a rally driver!” he exclaimed. “Duval had a problem in front of me and he also had a suspension failure. I overtook him before Turn 9 and I went in just a bit too quick and there was a lot of rubber and dirt. I was on it and I saw the wall coming and I said, ‘this is it, it’s over’. It was quite a big hit and the rear was completely bent, the steering was totally not straight any more. Right corners were fine but in left corners I really had to take it easy. But I’m surprised how strong the Formula E car is.”

Despite his problems at the start Sarrazin came through to fourth, while Bruno Senna took fifth for Mahindra Racing. Da Costa managed to get his car restarted and came home sixth, while Daniel Abt finished seventh for Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport.

Nelson Piquet Jr was again a FanBoost winner and kept out of trouble to score his first points of the season for NEXTEV TCR in eighth, while Nick Heidfeld finished ninth despite having been tipped into a spin at the first corner following a three-way tussle with Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Virgin Racing) who was eliminated on the spot and Jacques Villeneuve (Venturi).

Prost picked up the final point in 10th, while Buemi had the consolation of securing the Visa Fastest Lap and two bonus points.

After one of the most eventful races in Formula E’s short history, the teams and drivers now have a well-earned break before the series resumes in the amazing beachside setting of Punta del Este on 19 December.

 

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Award for Williams

Formula-E-Battery,-WAE

 

Williams Advanced Engineering has been awarded the 2015 Simms Medal by the Royal Automobile Club in recognition of home-grown British automotive engineering talent.

The Simms Medal is only awarded in years when the RAC’s Technical Committee deems there have been contenders of sufficient merit. Williams Advanced Engineering has been awarded the prize for its work in creating the batteries that are currently powering the cars racing in the Formula E electric racing series.

The Formula E battery had to be designed from scratch within 12 months and to a strictly pre-determined safety cell, cool sufficiently, be 100% consistent from one team to the next (40 race cars plus spares), and last an entire season with no loss of power or performance. The batteries showed remarkable reliability in the inaugural Formula E season, with only one failure in 440 race starts.

Williams Advanced Engineering is only the eighth recipient of the Simms Medal, with previous winners including Richard Parry-Jones CBE in 2007 for his contribution to the automotive industry; Ben Bowlby in 2012 for his ground-breaking DeltaWing racing car and Lord Paul Drayson in 2013 for world record breaking achievements with the Drayson B12/69 LMP-type EV racing car.

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