Welcome, to my final blog post of 2018. It has been a pretty good year with me being able to attend more race weekends then ever before, visit events as accredited media that I had previously only ever dreamed of, oh and there was the day where I travelled to and from Switzerland all within 12 hours. In this blog post, I will reminisce and reflect on my key motorsport highlights from the year and give an honest review of my experiences and any corny life lessons I might have learnt along the way. If you are patient, you can also read about a new project I will be tackling in 2019. It is something that has been in the works since the summer and I am so happy to be sharing it with you all now as we approach the new year and welcome new beginnings. Anyway, enough waffling – I have made myself a huge mug of tea and am ready to confess all from my year in motorsport.
As I do every January, this year started off with a trip to the NEC in Birmingham for the Autosport International Show. ASI was the first ever motorsport event I ever went to as accredited media way back in 2015 when I first started blogging. It is a great event, both for interviewing personalities in motorsport but also for networking. This year I attended the event solely for networking and catching up with old friends but as ever was impressed by the huge array of stands and people in attendance. The FIA World Rally Championship had a large presence at the year too, which I was thrilled to see. The WRC is something that I am keen to get more involved in over the next few years as it is one of my favourite forms of motor racing.
I am also part of the Autosport Academy, so at the event Autosport also hosted many activities and an open classroom-style for any academy members. All good fun, interactive and a chance to listen and learn from the huge amount of talent within Autosport and fellow academy members.
Ah, Geneva. Probably the most ambitious thing I have ever attempted to do in my motorsport career to date. For years I have followed the Geneva International Motor Show and envied anyone in attendance. It was always the motoring show that any big manufactures exhibited at and unveiled their new creations to the world. To put it bluntly, the show is the dog’s bollocks. I had previously looked into the details of the show but realised it was probably an event to aspire to in a few more years’ time. Then I got the press release.
‘Formula E Gen2 Car to be exhibited at the Geneva International Motor Show’. That was it, I knew I had to go. Took the day off work, booked my flights, applied for media accreditation and boom – I was ready to go.
6am start. Flight departs from Gatwick at 8am. Landed in Geneva at 10am. A frantic rush through Swiss passport control and collecting my media pass has led to me running through the crowds to the huge Audi stand to meet with Allan McNish. This is our first ever interview and he makes me so welcome. We end up talking for just under half an hour and cover journey with Audi and the performance of the Audi Formula E Team that he is Team Principal of. The team had been down on luck when we spoke in Geneva with Daniel Abt having his first-ever victory disqualified and then-champion Lucas di Grassi still not to score a single championship point. From that interview, as pointed out to me from people within the Audi Formula E team, the team’s luck changed so naturally I will take full credit for them going on to win the constructors’ championship. It is only fair.
Afterwards, I headed to Jaguar’s stand to chat with Mitch Evans and James Barclay about Jaguar’s jump in performance from season three to four and the newly unveiled Gen2 Car.
The show as a whole was brilliant but so much to take in. Can you visit the show in a day? Yes. Should you? I think it would have been nice to spread it across two days to really dedicate the time it needs to the thousands of exhibitors. Good thing about the location though is that it is right next to the airport, so you can walk off the plane and to the event in under twenty minutes, not including the poorly organised passport control of course, which was really useful to know.
I arrived back home around 8pm that evening, digested everything that happened and went straight to bed, ready for another normal working day in my full-time marketing job the following morning. Standard. Isn’t it?
Rome was the first Formula E event of mine this year. The vibe around the city was electric and as you would expect has become a city that I would love to revisit with the championship in 2019. The physical Gen2 car had just been displayed in Geneva and so more teams were beginning to unveil their temporary livery, adding to the hype of this new generation of Formula E that was soon on its way. The track was also really cool, some steep elevation changes around the circuit which Formula E isn’t really used to and intense chicanes added in the final sector which caught out plenty of drivers over the weekend.
For me, personally, I found the first day back in a media centre quite daunting. It didn’t help that the media centre was in some huge hall and was packed with Italian journalists who weren’t your Formula E regulars. It’s a bit like that feeling you get at the first day back at school, that is the best way to describe it, and I found myself questioning what I am doing both at a Formula E event in Rome for my own website but also why I am chasing a career in motorsport in the first place. This feeling soon goes, especially as one of the first interviews I had when I ventured into the pitlane was with Felipe Massa as he made a surprise appearance to see the championship before he joined as a full-time driver for season five. I like those spontaneous interviews, especially as there was such a large crowd around him and with me being small I managed to push my way to the front and ended up leading the only English-speaking interview.
The rest of the weekend was a great success, with me leaving the Italian city really proud of how far I had come; from starting a blog in my bedroom to dominating a post-race media pen with some of the world’s best driving talents in an international FIA championship.
Formula E visited Berlin in May, with Daniel Abt being a shining star that weekend and finally and officially securing his first win. The atmosphere around the race weekend was fantastic, with every single person in the paddock saying that Abt was worthy of his achievements that weekend. Nico Rosberg also made an appearance, the first time I have been able to chat to the former F1 World Champion when he hasn’t been racing. He was there to test drive the new Gen2 car, the first time the car had publicly taken to a race track and it did not disappoint.
Berlin also offered me my first attempt of ‘presenting’, if you can call it that. Talking to the Formula E Production team in a spur-of-the-moment interview was an interesting experience and something I would like to experiment with more next year and hope to with the project that I will be launching. Although the final cut was only a few seconds long, much to my relief, you can find it in the Formula E Guide ahead of Season Five.
My third and final Formula E race of this year was Zurich, my favourite of the three. From the cobbled pitlane, Lucas di Grassi jumping in Lake Zurich after his victory or being able to sit in a Gen1 Formula E car, the race weekend was certainly a special one.
The race day itself was crazy and so unpredictable, added to the fact that Switzerland had not hosted a motor racing event in six decades. Mitch Evans of Jaguar managed to secure their first ever pole position in Formula E earlier in the morning, earning themselves a traditional Swiss Cow Bell no less. Then came the race which was both a delight and a total nightmare. With the race having already provided plenty of action, a full course yellow was deployed after a piece of Felix Rosenqvist’s Mahindra was left deserted in the middle of the track mid-race. In a shocking twist, six of the top ten drivers were handed drive through penalties including championship contender Jean-Eric Vergne which ruined his race and meant the championship battle continued to the season finale in New York. You can imagine the initial panic from the media centre when those penalties came up on the timing screen.
Zurich, my final Formula E race of the first generation, also gave me the opportunity to experience the Gen1 car closer than ever before. In a fitting tribute and farewell to a car that had helped take Formula E to a new level, I was given the chance to get behind the wheel of the official demonstration car. Okay, so not literally. Nobody is that stupid to let me drive the thing.. yet. However, I did get to sit in my first single-seater car and get a feel of what the drivers experience when racing. As this wasn’t planned and happened on an off chance, let’s just say my decision to wear a skirt that day was probably a bad one.
Turns out, if you can climb in and out of a single-seater car without ending up with your skirt up stuck around your waist, you feel like the next logical step should surely be world domination.
As we said goodbye to the first generation of Formula E, it was soon time to welcome the new second generation cars through team launches. The first and only launch I was able to make this year was for Panasonic Jaguar Racing. Same line-up as the previous year, Evans and season one champion Nelson Piquet Jr. The car looked fantastic and futuristic, and as well as hearing from the drivers in media sessions, there was also the opportunity to talk to people from the more technical side of things which is always interesting.
Once most of the season five field had launched their new machines and confirmed driver line-ups it was time to get on another flight, this time to Valencia for pre-season testing. I love testing, mainly because it is a chance to get a flavour of what the season will offer us, despite the actual testing venue not being at all representative to the street circuits the championship goes racing on. It is also the best occasion to get stocked up on any interviews or information for future features. This year we have had the addition of a new team in the shape of HWA, so becoming familiar with their drivers, Stoffel Vandoorne and Gary Paffett, as well as their internal team is vital.
This was my third consecutive pre-season testing and I will always try and fit it into my calendar. Each year, I find it a good tool for comparison on how far I have come. My first experience of testing was at Donnington back in 2016, I had never been in a paddock before and was so shy and nervous. Skip forward two years and I know the majority of the pitlane, I have no issue walking up to people and starting a conversation or hosting an interview with a driver for a long period of time without the need of a million questions scrawled on a piece of paper in front of me.
New Year, New Adventures
So, the news I have been waiting to share with you. I love my blog, always have done and always will do but I am always keen to explore new avenues for content. I dabbled in a little bit of YouTube with the odd vlog here and there but back in the summer I decided that I wanted to push my focus onto something else, with that ‘something’ being a podcast.
Small Torque is that podcast.
During 2019 and beyond, as well as continuing to post regular content here on my blog, I will be hosting the Small Torque podcast through a variety of platforms which I can confirm soon. The podcast will see me host a different guest every episode, talking to them about their career in motorsport, the highs and lows in addition to discussing topical motorsport news. Guests will be from far and wide within motorsport and feature drivers and riders, individuals that work in the media, engineers, mechanics, marshals or are from different areas of motorsport. The podcast aims to interview a huge range of people from all aspects of motorsport and listen to their stories and learn from their experiences, all in a 45-minute episode. The pilot episode should be going live at some point in January.
If you would like to follow the podcast through any social media channels, you can do so by searching the term “Small Torqure Podcast” or follow the links below.
Thank you for all your kind support throughout this year. I know this was a pretty lengthy blog post, so thanks if you have stuck around till the very end. I hope next year will be even bigger and better for me and my motorsport dreams and visions, with the addition of the podcast allowing me to offer you more quality content than ever before. Happy New Year and bring on 2019!