ENVISION VIRGIN RACING & SAM BIRD JOINTLY AGREE TO PART WAYS

Envision Virgin Racing and driver Sam Bird have jointly decided to part ways at the end of the current Formula E season.

The Briton, who has driven for the founding team since its formation and to date boasts nine wins and 18 podiums together, will leave the team by mutual consent at the end of season six.

Bird, 33, remains fully committed to the Silverstone-based outfit until then and will join team-mate Robin Frijns for the championship’s final races in Berlin, beginning on August 5.

Sylvain Filippi, Managing Director at Envision Virgin Racing, said: “I know I speak for the entire team when I say Sam is one of the most likeable and decorated drivers in Formula E and, come mid-August, will leave us with the utmost respect and admiration. Being a founding member of this team like myself, I personally want to pay tribute to Sam for the excellent job he has done and for being a pleasure to work with over the years. Ever the professional, he remains just as committed and determined to end the season with Envision Virgin Racing on a high.”

He added: “Behind the scenes, we have been developing our season seven driver line-up and I’m excited to confirm that we will be revealing this in the coming days.”

Bird, who remains the only Formula E driver to have won in every season to date, commented: “Over the years, this team has become more like a family to me and has been a huge part of my racing career. Many will know that the team and Formula E resurrected my racing career and for that I am eternally grateful. I have so many memories and highlights – both on and off track – to look back on and I really hope there’s still a few more to come in Berlin before I embark on the next chapter of my racing career. And for sure, there is likely to be a tear in my eye come that final race.”

Envision Group’s Franz Jung and Chairman of the Board of Envision Virgin Racing added: “I’d like to extend my thanks to Sam for his fantastic team contribution over the past six seasons. Of course, before then, we have plenty of racing to do with six events in nine days in Berlin, and I know Sam, Robin and everyone in the team will be putting in the hard work to ensure we finish the season strongly.”

The 2019/2020 Formula E season will resume with three double-headers taking place on 5 & 6, 8 & 9 and 12 & 13 August, with all six races staged at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport.

DEMAND LEADS TO MARBULA-E EXTENSION

Marbula-E, the marble racing parody of the all-electric Formula E series, is to roll back into action following ‘unprecedented demand’, with a three-race ‘final rolldown’ that will see its first ever champion crowned.

Launched in April, the series now dubbed the ‘pinnaball of motorsport’ was created by Formula E team Envision Virgin Racing and Jelle’s Marble Runs as a way of filling the void left by the global lockdown.

Originally set over three events, organisers have now decided to extend the championship further following its huge success, which includes attracting more than 10 million views to date and over 70 million social impressions.

Races, which replicate tracks scheduled to be visited by Formula E, have already been staged in Paris, Seoul and Jakarta, and will now conclude with circuits for Berlin, New York City and London, beginning with the German capital on August 4 – on the eve of Formula E’s actual return to racing.

Envision Virgin Racing’s Managing Director Sylvain Filippi, said: “We’ve had ‘marbellous’ success to date and it still amazes me how popular our Marbula-E series has become. Something that started out as a bit of fun has gone on to attract worldwide media attention and thousands of avid fans. With this unprecedented demand, we just felt we had to extend the series using the remainder of the original Formula E calendar, and meaning we’ll be able to crown our inaugural M-Champion very soon.”

He added: “Current championship leaders are the Mercedes-Benz EQ team but, as we know in motorsport, anything can happen and there’s still a lot of points up for grabs. Sadly, our team’s marble has just lacked race pace, but we hope we can end the season on a high.”

Available to watch on the team’s Facebook and YouTube channels, as well as those of Jelle’s Marble Runs, races will once again feature realistic circuits and backdrops including packed grandstands, TV graphics and commentary from veteran Greg ‘Woodsie’ Woods and the voice of Formula E himself Jack Nicholls. The innovative ‘driver’s eye’ onboard camera will also continue.

The Berlin M-Prix takes place on August 4, followed by the New York City race and the London season finale later in the summer.

WE MEET THE TEAM CHANGING LIVES IN THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS

Formula E’s diverse and global calendar not only makes for spectacular racing, it also affords the opportunity to discover the amazing cities, regions and cultures behind each venue.

In February, Envision Virgin Racing travelled to Marrakesh in North Africa for the Formula E race. With some rare downtime before the main event, the Envision Virgin Racing team took drivers Sam Bird and Robin Frijns on a short trip to the foot of the Atlas Mountains to discover some very special change makers who are helping to make a difference to both people’s lives and the climate around them.

Our journey begins back in 1998 when a certain Sir Richard Branson, and his family, were in Morocco as part of the Virgin founder’s round-the-world hot air ballooning adventurers. Known for her ‘restlessness’, Sir Richard’s mum Eve went exploring and heard about a property for sale – Kasbah Tamadot – located in the picturesque Atlas Mountains. Charmed by the people and the place, Eve convinced Sir Richard to buy the property. The next day she started work on helping those communities who had days earlier, made her fall in love with the region.

A few years later in 2005, she established the Eve Branson Foundation, whilst Kasbah Tamadot itself has gone on to become a luxury resort providing stable employment for more than 150 people from neighbouring villages. The foundation now provides free access to education, skills and development, dental care and, most importantly, access to clean drinking water.

“Our mission is to help the community,” says Abderrazzak Zoubair, the Eve Branson Foundation Project Manager who joined the programme many years ago helping to teach English. “We want young people to have the opportunity to earn a living and build a secure, healthy and enriched future, as well as to acquire new skills.”

In total, the foundation has four projects working in parallel with a craft house, weaving centre, woodwork centre and teaching English at a state boarding house – providing work, sanctitude and income for people and their families.

The Envision Virgin Racing, as part of its Race Against Climate Change (RACC) sustainability programme, was able to learn more about this inspirational story, but also see for itself how even small communities are feeling the effects of climate change and the reason the team goes racing.

“The whole area is greatly affected by climate change,” continues Zoubair. “The surrounding lands are very dry due to a lack of rain which has a big impact on the local villages and communities. Having the additional skills we help teach means people are more prepared to adapt and survive during these difficult times.”

During the struggles of the global pandemic, there has been a rapid decline in tourism to the area which has hugely impacted the artisans, the programmes and the Berber communities.  Having built resilience at a grassroots level, all involved can better face the challenges ahead and will be waiting to warmly welcome supporters and visitors for when travel to the area is safe again.

You can visit their website – https://www.evebransonfoundation.org.uk/ or to find out more about the team’s RACC programme visit – https://envisionvirginracing.com/racc/

 

ENVISION VIRGIN RACING TO RECREATE 11-YEAR-OLD’S WINNING FORMULA E CAR DESIGN

Eleven-year-old Kitty Thwaite is to have the climate change livery she designed for Envision Virgin Racing’s Formula E car recreated in full and put on display, after beating more than 3,100 entries in the team’s global art competition.

Held in partnership with National Geographic Kids and children’s illustrator Rob Biddulph (creator of the online series ‘#DrawWithRob’), the sustainability focused art competition challenged children to draw the all-electric race car through an instructional video and then create their own nature-led custom car designs.

Judged by the team’s Managing Director Sylvain Filippi and Managing Director of Nat Geo Kids Peter Johnson, both were impressed with Kitty’s thought-provoking design which features a variety of endangered animals set on a background of a ‘warming planet’, together with the message ‘land, air or sea, all animals are precious to me’.

 

“It will be absolutely amazing to see my design for real,” commented Kitty who lives in Tetford in Lincolnshire, UK, and attends the Edward Richardson Primary School. “We learn about recycling and emissions at school and I care about the environment a lot. I love drawing animals too; pandas are my favourite!”

To add to the excitement, Kitty was informed of the news on this evening’s BBC flagship programme the One Show where she appeared live in front of an audience of around five million, together with her mother Alison. As part of her prize, Kitty will also receive tickets to a Formula E race next year and a video message from one of the team’s drivers. The top three entrants also received a subscription to children’s magazine National Geographic Kids.

“Our competition aimed to raise awareness of the effects of climate change to a younger audience, whilst providing a bit of fun and light relief to parents during the lockdown period,” said Filippi.

“Everyone at Envision Virgin Racing cares passionately about the environment, which is why we run numerous initiatives like this one under our Race Against Climate Change programme. As a father of two myself, I was very inspired by Kitty’s drawing and I’d like to extend my congratulations to her and my thanks to everyone involved.”

Peter Johnson from Nat Geo added: “Kitty has managed to – in a very small space – really get across the race we are in to stop a climate catastrophe and reminded us all that we should love our earth. Through this design Kitty has taken us on a journey across two different environments, both crucial to our existence and used flames to represent the rising temperatures which pose such great threats to the habits, people and wildlife that inhabit them. It’s a brilliant design and certainly worthy of winning. Well done Kitty!”

Formula E – the world’s first fully-electric racing series – is next in action on August 5th in Berlin when the current season resumes with six races over nine days following a five-month hiatus.

CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL WOMEN IN ENGINEERING DAY

Are you an aspiring engineer? Or want to know more about how you can help to #ShapeTheWorld? We meet a group of inspiring women doing just that…

Today, the 23 June, marks the seventh annual International Women In Engineering Day, a day that exists to celebrate the good things women in engineering do across the world. The goal for 2020 is to reach as many people as possible and to celebrate how engineers make the planet a better, safer and more innovative place to be. This year’s theme #ShapeTheWorld encourages more people to become involved in the industry by showcasing women working at every level of engineering.

Elizabeth Donnelly MSc FRSA MRAeS MINCOSE, CEO of the Women’s Engineer Society (pictured below), says: “The Women’s Engineering Society is thrilled that Envision Virgin Racing is involved with Formula E. Our theme for International Women in Engineering Day 2020 (INWED) is Shape the World and we are celebrating the Top 50 Women in Engineering: Sustainability this year too. Engineers will be at the heart of solutions to climate change, and it’s great to see that motor racing can show that even some of the fastest cars in the world don’t have to damage the environment. It’s also fantastic that women feature as engineers and test drivers since diversity in any team always adds value.”

Elizabeth Donnelly, CEO of the Women’s Engineer Society

Envision Virgin Racing exists to accelerate the transition to clean, secure and affordable renewable energy and mass adoption of e-mobility and engineers are at the heart of this mission. The team works with a variety of engineers throughout its ecosystem and their inspiring stories explain the roles they play in developing technology to #ShapeTheWorld.


Serena Potts is completing an MSc in Advanced Motorsport Engineering at Cranfield University and is currently completing her thesis in collaboration with Envision Virgin Racing.

What did you want to be when you were younger?
I didn’t always know what I wanted to go into, I just knew that I was always up for a challenge and kept pursuing the science streams in College and then University. This led me to pursue Materials Engineering. But it was towards the end of my degree that I fell into Motorsport through friends watching Formula 1 and started to make plans for working in the industry.

How long did this take and are there any professional qualifications you need for the role?
My engineering degree back in Canada was a four year program that I completed in 5 years with the addition of an industrial placement year. My current MSc course is a one-year program. Previously, I interned in flight simulation, metallurgy and most recently British GT3. I think these internships were invaluable in terms of experience and developing as an engineer.

Have you been supported at University and engaged in any STEM projects or women in motorsport initiatives?
My undergraduate university had excellent engagement for women who wanted to pursue engineering, from University clubs to networking events. The Materials program itself had a high enrolment rate of female students, I think close to 45%. I always felt surrounded and encouraged by like-minded peers. Motorsport obviously feels different but it is such a welcoming environment to new engineers. The technical director and the team manager from JRM, the British GT3 team, were both a source of support and motivation.

What does your day-to-day job look like?
During the season, my work days were limited to race weekends as in between I was completing my MSc course. This involved working from the factory office in Silverstone during race days. We usually arrived about an hour before the first practice session and left after the actual race. At the moment, I am working on my thesis from home with weekly communication to my project lead at EVR.

Have you been involved in any projects that inspire women to work in engineering?
I attended a Women-in-Engineering event at Mercedes F1 earlier this year through Cranfield University. Previously, in my undergrad degree I was a part of POWE, Promoting Opportunities for Women in Engineering. We ran everything from university social events to conferences for encouraging high school girls to pursue engineering.


Eeti Sharma works as an AVP for Genpact, working close with the Envision Virgin Racing engineering team to understand design and implement analytical solutions to improve driver performance.

What was your favourite subject at school?
Ironically the two subjects I found most interesting at school were poles apart – quantitative subjects like mathematics and physics on one hand and languages on the other hand – the logic of one and the abstraction of the other.

Did you enter the field/industry at a graduate level or have you moved across to it?
I have been in the industry of generating insights by using data for over 15 years. However, I have moved into the racing world recently. While being in the same functional area for many years for multiple business, I have moved across to the industry recently
What does your day-to-day job look like? Very exciting to say the least! With large doses of ideation, brainstorming and experimentation.

How is this structured?
We work with the Engineering team to understand design and implement analytical solutions to improve driver performance. Specifically we work with four streams of data : 1) Meta data from the racing car 2) Drivers’ reaction and cognitive data to understand their mental decision making models 3) External data such as weather conditions, track conditions, wind speed and direction etc. 4) Data on competitor’s driving style using machine learning and AI. These form the input to our model that comes up with near real time analysis and insight that the driver can act upon to win the race.

How have you seen the industry change since you became an engineer?
The industry has seen and continues to see a massive change. Of course, the most dramatic shift has been in “how” the business is conducted – the technology, the leverage of data; how the sport engages and its fans/ followers engage with each other as well as the growing prominence of sustainability. There is a deliberate and conscious effort to draw more women, across variety of roles that the industry offers


Maria Persson is a Senior R&D Textile Expert and Teijin Aramid, who are currently supporting the development of new fabric solutions which may be worn by the drivers and mechanical crew.

What did you need to study/what qualifications did you need?
I completed both a BSc and an MSc in mechanical engineering specializing in textile technology at the Swedish School of Textile, including an exchange semester at the University of Manchester, where I studied polymer and textile science. During this time, a guest lecture on textiles in medical applications inside the body spoke to my passion for textiles in extreme environments. I completed my master’s thesis on the use of three-dimensional scaffolds for bone tissue engineering. I continued this research for my Ph.D. at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Oulu in Finland.

What are the key skills you need to work in your role?
Good communication skills and cultural understanding are critical. Working in an international environment and interact with different roles e.g., customers, sales, engineering etc requires that you can adapt the way you work and communicate. Within R&D, it is important to be curious, creative, and analytical. One definitely needs to enjoy solving problems!

Do you continue to have training or education suitable for your role?
Yes, definitely. My three first months within my current position was dedicated to training. Each team member shared their knowledge and gave me different task to solve. During my time within Teijin I also had the opportunity to take training in marketing as well as Dutch language training since I am based in the Netherlands.

What is the best part about working in engineering?
Working as an engineer one can be both creative and analytical – a balance I appreciate in my daily work.

What is your dream role?
I already have my dream role! I love being an R&D textile engineer. One dream application would be space suits. I would love to be part of a team to develop the next generation space suits. This would be an amazing challenge and a great opportunity to further apply my skills and passion.


Elizabeth McBeth is a design engineer for STANLEY Engineered Fastening where she works on the new product development of fasteners.

What did you want to be when you were younger?
When I was much younger, I wanted to be a herpetologist or an astronaut! I was that little girl who had her head in the clouds and was constantly watching documentaries like Crocodile Hunter and Blue Planet, while building cardboard cut-outs of the ISS or making robots out of Lego. I honestly didn’t have a clue what was going to happen after school, but then, who does? When I got a bit older and started having to make those all important decisions on options for GCSEs and A levels, I had one rule: stick to the subjects that you enjoy and then hopefully the paths that present themselves to you, will be of interest.

What did you need to study/what qualifications did you need?
I studied BEng Hons Aerospace Engineering with Space Technology at university, which needed an A level in at least mathematics and physics (or equivalent collage qualifications) as prerequisites.

What are the key skills you need to work in your role?
Constant communication and transparency within the teams is vital. Engineers are often naturally introverts (as I am), and so it can be difficult to keep that constant flow of communication when you are buried eye-deep within the details of a project. Also, there is this strange balance between flexibility and being concrete in an approach or thought process and knowing when to switch between the two. In the early stages of design, the scope can change very quickly depending on the many different factors that weigh into it and it’s easy to get lost in the details early on. When finalizing a design there is a certain point of no return and that is where the eye for detail comes in.

What is your dream role?
Ultimately, I want to be working as a specialist in the industry. I would like it where people will feel comfortable coming to me with questions about my expertise as part of a fully integrated member of a Research and Development team.

What is the best part about working in engineering?
The detective work and the satisfaction of finally getting to the right answer. Engineering I have found is often more about problem solving than anything else – which I love.

Have you been involved in any projects that inspire women to join STEM?
I was invited to shadow the GreenLight4Girls event back in October 2019. That was an interesting day and everyone seemed so involved in the events that were going on. I remember thinking “I would have loved to come to something like this when I was at school”.

You can learn more about International Women In Engineering Day or to gain a better understanding of how you too can help to #ShapeTheWorld here: http://www.inwed.org.uk/

2021 FORMULA E CALENDAR

Formula E’s governing body, the FIA, have today (June 19) revealed the provisional calendar for season seven (2020/2021) of the all-electric series, its first season as a World Championship.

Held during a virtual FIA World Motorsport Council due to lockdown conditions, the draft calendar will see the 12 teams and 24 drivers go head-to-head in 12 cities over 14 rounds, including an as yet undisclosed location.

Actually beginning in 2021, the latest ever start to a Formula E season, the opening event takes place in Santiago’s Chile on January 16, before concluding seven months later in London with a double-header at the ExCeL centre.

The calendar is also set to be one of the most condensed on record with just 190 days separating the first and final rounds.

Alongside announcing the calendar, the FIA World Motor Sport Council also approved modifications to the championship’s sporting regulations in line with Formula E’s new world championship status. Measures to reinforce economic, social and environmental sustainability efforts were also agreed and are expected to be shared at a later date.

Commenting on the announcement, Envision Virgin Racing’s Managing Director Sylvain Filippi said: “Having been involved with Formula E since the beginning, it’s always an exciting time to see where we’ll be racing next but, more importantly, the new cities and audiences we’re able to showcase sustainable racing to. This season has undoubtedly been incredible tough on the organisers with so many proposed new cities that we weren’t able to visit, but hopefully we’ll now get that chance and everyone at Envision Virgin Racing is looking forward to yet more intense competition.”

He added: “I also particularly welcome the news regarding the championship’s planned economic, social and  sustainability efforts and look forward to hearing more.”

Pre-season testing or in-season tests have yet to be confirmed. The proposed season seven calendar will now be ratified by the FIA at the next WMSC in Paris on 9th October.

2020/21 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship – Provisional calendar
Rd 1 Santiago Chile January 16, 2021
Rd 2 Mexico City Mexico February 13, 2021
Rd 3 Diriyah Saudi Arabia February 26, 2021
Rd 4 Diriyah Saudi Arabia February 27, 2021
Rd 5 Sanya China March 13, 2021
Rd 6 Rome* Italy April 10, 2021
Rd 7 Paris France April 24, 2021
Rd 8 Monaco* Monaco May 8, 2021
Rd 9 Seoul* South Korea May 23, 2021
Rd 10 TBC TBC June 5, 2021
Rd 11 Berlin Germany June 19, 2021
Rd 12 New York City USA July 10, 2021
Rd 13 London* UK July 24, 2021
Rd 14 London* UK July 25, 2021

*Subject to circuit homologation

 

 

WE’RE PRIMED FOR “INTENSE” FORMULA E RETURN

Envision Virgin Racing’s Managing Director Sylvain Filippi says his team is primed and ready for an “intense” Formula E return following a five-month hiatus, as teams and drivers face a gruelling six races in nine days at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport.

The former airport will host rounds six to 11 of the all-electric series starting on August 5th to conclude the 2019/2020 season – marking the championship’s sixth visit to the German capital and making it the only city to have featured in every Formula E season.

Following the worldwide coronavirus lockdown, the team has continued to work remotely and last week returned to its Silverstone headquarters whilst following stringent social distancing measures.

Now the team is accelerating preparations following the news that Formula E will conclude the season with an unprecedented three double-headers, including races held mid-week and using a variety of track configurations.

“It’s great to be returning to racing and I’m extremely impressed with the way Formula E has handled the entire hiatus period,” says Filippi. “By putting the wellbeing of the paddock first and communicating freely it means we as teams have full faith in their ability to deliver a safe, spectacular championship conclusion. Everyone at Envision Virgin Racing has, and is, working incredibly hard, but six races in nine days is going to be intense – especially with reduced on site personnel and remote working – but 100% we’re primed and ready for the challenge ahead.”

Briton Bird, one of only a handful of drivers to have competed in every single Berlin E-Prix, said: “It’s been a very challenging time for so many of us, but I’m delighted we’re going racing again. For sure, there’s a lot of unknowns going into these events, not least the intensity of so many races in such a short timeframe and I suspect Formula E have some surprises up their sleeves too with regards to the track layouts. It feels like such a long time since my win at the season opener in Diriyah, but the whole team is raring to go again, and it’s still anyone’s championship for the taking.”

Team-mate Frijns, who will celebrate his 29th birthday ahead of the third race in Berlin, commented:

 

It’s hard to believe that after all this time we’ll be taking to the track again. As a driver, I’ve never experienced such a long absence from the cockpit so we’ve been working hard on remaining physically and mentally focused including simulator work, competing in Formula E’s Race at Home Challenge and regular communication with the engineers. We know from past experience what a testing circuit Berlin can be, but this should just make for an even better show for those watching safely at home.

-Robin Frijns

Envision Group’s Franz Jung and Chairman of the Board of Envision Virgin Racing added: “We’ve all been experiencing unprecedented times of late so it’s fantastic that Formula E, the FIA and the local authorities have been able to safely stage these events, especially as sport plays such an important role in people’s lives. During the hiatus, the entire team has remained just as focused and motivated to ensure value for our partners and entertainment for our fans, and we’re looking forward to ending the season on a high.”

The 2019/2020 Formula E season will resume with three double-headers taking place on 5th & 6th, 8th & 9th and  12th & 13th August, with all six races staged at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport.

The speed of change

From race to road, how everyday electric cars have been hugely influenced by on track technology in just six seasons...

It is said there are two areas that are the driving force behind human innovation: war and sport. If you cast your mind back to the technology developments we now all take for granted, so many can be traced back to these. Why? Quite simply when humans compete there is a desire to win and that competition drives innovation.  

The internet, GPS, radars, crash helmets, canned food, penicillin, space programmes, composites, aerodynamicsall have their roots seeded in one or the other, with their real-world application and mainstream adoption now just taken for granted. 

Motorsport has always been at the forefront of cutting-edge innovation from the more obviously innovations such as seat belts and transmission systems to the wider applications like prosthetic limbs to even how medical operations are performed.  

With Formula E, the all-electric race series showcases the best of EV technology that will – and is – filtering down into everyday road cars.  

Formula E was created as a testbed for manufacturers to develop their electric technology at the highest level of competition, with the tech then filtering down into everyday electric road cars,” remarks Envision Virgin Racing Managing Director Sylvain Filippi. Adding: “Just how other forms of motorsport have previously influenced and shaped petrol and diesel cars, only with Formula E it’s happening much faster. 

Boasting the most competitive line-up in motorsport, Formula E has some of the world’s top manufacturers participating who in turn are developing some of the leading electric vehicles available to consumers. In just six seasons, the championship has doubled the capacity of the battery meaning that each driver competes with just one car, rather than two, per race. This is a huge advancement in battery technology, over such a short period of time, and is technology that can translate directly into road car uses with companies like Envision AESC creating batteries for cars across the world.  

Unlike many other forms of motorsport, Formula E cars all use the same battery, chassis and body work – this is to allow the increased advancement of the performance of the car in other areas that will impact electric vehicles in the futureThe changes made can range from weight reduction to energy management, and each team spends hundreds of hours ensuring that they run the most efficiently.  

As an independent outfit, Envision Virgin Racing works with Audi Sport – another leading Formula E team  who continue to refine their package ever season. Audi have stated that it runs an ‘ultralightweight strategy’ – by analysing every component of the car they have been able to remove 10% of the mass and with batteries weighing around 300kg, it’s extremely important to be able to reduce weight elsewhere in the car. Their Team Principal Alan McNish believes, “competition has and always will be a major catalyst”.  

Unable to make changes to the technology of the race car, Envision Virgin Racing must use software to gain a competitive advantage. Managing the flow of energy through the drivetrain via software is one of the key areas of software advantage for teams. In short, software is to Formula E what aerodynamics is to Formula One, the smallest of changes can deliver race wins. In the same way car upgrades are brought to races in F1, software packages and updates are brought to Formula E to be tested. However, upgrades must be thoroughly tested and not rushed as unlike a physical upgrade to a wing for example, mistakes in software upgrades can mean a car stopping on track or a complete system failure 

Software does not give a power advantage – all cars are restricted to 200kW during the race or 250kW during qualifying – however it allows teams to use the power more efficiently (think smart phones here, having too many apps open can reduce your battery life). Drivers must consume the minimum amount of energy possible per lap whilst achieving the desired lap time, it’s a fine line to balance and takes considerable skill from the driver’s side. Improvements in these efficiencies have a direct correlation to road cars, the series has already seen a 13% efficiency in the running of its cars, and this will continue to increase – particularly with the next generation of car (Gen3). 

The next technology step in Formula E will be the rate of charging. The development of a cutting-edge charging solution would pave the way for the increased uptake of EVs by consumers as the myths regarding charging and range anxiety are dispelled.  

WHAT GOES INTO A SPLIT-SECOND DECISION?

The difference between winning and losing in Formula E can often be measured in milliseconds, but for Envision Virgin Racing that decision is no longer left solely to the driver…

Studies estimate that adults make around 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each and every day. Some big, some small. Some significant, some trivia. Some good, some bad. For professional sports athletes, those split-second decisions can be the difference between a lot more… winning and losing.

And in some sports, that split decision can be over in the blink of an eye, literally. Take baseball for instance, a 100mph fastball takes roughly 375 – 400 milliseconds seconds to reach the batter. Blinking takes around 300 – 400 milliseconds. Not long then to decide what stroke to play and then to (successfully) execute it.

It’s the same in motorsport. The average time for a driver to react to the start lights is around 200 milliseconds; half the time it takes to blink to get that essential good start and then prepare for the next all important decision… followed by the next.

2020 Marrakesh E-prix
2020 Marrakesh E-prix

As in any motorsport series, the final decision ultimately rests with the man or woman behind the wheel but for Envision Virgin Racing drivers Sam Bird and Robin Frijns, they are far from alone when it comes to making many of these.

For almost two seasons now, Envision Virgin Racing has been successfully collaborating with Genpact to connect the data from our cars, drivers, team and tracks to help enhance decision-making and therefore race performance.

How, we hear you say? Well, take Formula E’s race length as an example. From the start of season five, races have no longer been a fixed number of laps, instead set to 45 minutes plus one lap. This means even greater energy management is required as every overtake, defensive manoeuvre, safety car or weather change can affect whether Sam Bird and Robin Frijns need to push or save remaining energy.

To better predict how many laps there will be in each race and efficiently manage energy, Genpact worked with the team to develop the Lap Estimate Optimizer (LEO), an AI-based scenario engine that houses a variety of different algorithms.

LEO runs alongside Envision Virgin Racing’s existing systems to assess thousands of potential scenarios and understand the impact of everything to an overtake to a sudden hailstorm, leading to a better understanding of how many laps remain.

LEO’s insights are particularly helpful when faced with changing track conditions, as was the case in Paris (where a certain Mr Frijns went on to take his maiden Formula E victory we might add) and Hong Kong, where LEO offered benefits over classic analysis methods. Similarly, in Santiago, LEO was able to settle on the right number 15 laps earlier. In short, it is about leaving as little as possible to chance.

And now this collaboration has been recognised with a coveted Hackett Group Digital Award. Hosted annually, the awards – set up by the leading strategic consultancy – aim to spotlight companies that are on the cutting edge of digital business practice, with Genpact taking top spot in the Analytics Category through their work with the team.

And of course, that work is constantly being fined tuned and even applied to wider business applications, all trying to amplify the partnership between human instinct and machine learning…after all, who wouldn’t want some help making 35,000 decisions a day?

SHOULD I CARE ABOUT WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY?

From ‘World Nutella Day’ to days dedicated to hugging your pet, the list of official anniversaries may have spiralled out of control but this is one you must observe…

Today is World Environment Day. 24 hours, 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds designed to promote environmental awareness. But why should you care? Is it really any different from any other day? Over recent years, the catalogue of PR-backed anniversary days has morphed from the serious to the surreal. You might be surprised to learn that today is also National Gingerbread Day, National Sausage Roll Day and National Hot Air Balloon Day.

So, when you are not 1,500 ft above the ground, with a sausage roll in one hand and a gingerbread man in the other, it is worth taking the time to think about the significance of this 46-year-old tradition.

World Environment Day, or WED as some like to refer to it as, was started by the United Nations in 1972 and formalised two years later. Since its inception, it has developed into a global platform for raising awareness and taking action, and it is celebrated in over 100 countries.

The focus for World Environment Day 2020 is biodiversity – a call to action to combat the accelerating species loss and degradation of the natural world. A concern that is both urgent and existential. For instance, just cast your mind back only a few months to the devastating bushfires in Brazil, the US and Australia, or to the locust infestations across East Arica and, of course, the current global pandemic – all highlighting the interdependence of humans and its planet.

Today’s activities, originally scheduled to be centred in Colombia, are understandably expected to be subdued and confined to online seminars and activities, but that does not mean it is any less important… or effective. Indeed, the fact you are reading this very article right now is already helping to bring about change.

So, what can you do? This is perhaps the most overused statement when talking about climate change and yet still its biggest adversary. Human motivation is arguably one of the toughest challenges facing global warming. It is like keeping fit; we all know the basics but the gap between reading about losing weight and actually shedding those pounds can be sizeable.

And that’s where World Environment Day – or any climate awareness day/project/initiative for that matter – comes in; to encourage people to take the next steps and  to metaphorically do ‘five sustainable press-ups’. Envision Virgin Racing do this through its Race Against Climate Change programme, but the same can be said for our partners, inspiring their workers, friends and family to take little steps that can make huge, and lasting, changes.

‘Plogging’ is a combination of jogging and picking up litter – an initiative utilised by the team’s partner Genpact in a bid to reduce plastic and manage waste in communities worldwide. Genpact successfully ran this activity in multiple regions across India, from Bengaluru to Jaipur. Over 800 environmentally conscious volunteers helped collect 3,955 kgs of rubbish (the equivalent of fully grown Indian Elephant in case you were wondering), which the team then sent for recycling and later used for the construction of roads.

Staying with Genpact, the team there also undertake tree-plantation drives and over the last four years, the programme has run 21 events, and planted 14,000 saplings and shrubs across India, passing on environmental education and new skills onto 4,600 volunteers.

Then, as part of it’s company goal to eliminate single use plastic, Genpact launched a ‘plastic-villain’ campaign. Employees across nine European countries collected plastic waste and used it to create characters. The scheme helped clear 175kgs of plastic, whilst having some fun at the same time, with all of it later recycled.

And finally for Genpact, working in partnership with United Way Bengaluru, the team stepped in to help save the city’s Saul Kere lake which was in rapid decline from a build-up of raw sewage and waste. A total of 1,800 employees helped improve the water, security and maintenance of the 61-acre lake, trebling its overall health, when compared to its previous state.

Meanwhile, partner Stanley has set itself ambitious targets that it hopes will inspire its some 60,000 staff, as well as others. By 2030, they plan to go one better than being carbon neutral and to become ‘carbon positive’. Not heard of this one? This is an initiative whereby a company or organisation actually creates an environmental benefit by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It centres around three programmes; using carbon removal technologies, achieving zero waste to landfill, and utilising sustainable water use. For the later, Stanley have teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to develop sustainable water management plans, making sure water is fairly distributed between different users in that region.

So, now you’ve heard what others are doing, the question remains as to what are you going to do for World Environment Day? If you’re in need of inspiration, then check out the many blog pieces we have on our website or head over to our RACC page to learn more.

DID YOU KNOW?
– Biodiversity involves 8 million plant and animal species, the ecosystems that house them, and the genetic diversity among them.

– In the last 150 years, the live coral reef cover has been reduced by half.

– Within the next 10 years, one out of every four known species may have been wiped off the planet.

– It would take 1.6 Earths to meet the demands that humans make on nature each year.