The Bright Spark Reports from MARRAKESH

Testing, testing 1-2-3…

The opportunity to get valuable data in Marrakesh at the rookie test last Sunday was lapped up (in all senses) by the Mahindra Racing engineering team. Our resident Bright Spark explains the key aims and objectives of the test, which took place with drivers Sam Dejonghe and Pipo Derani at the wheel of the two M6Electro cars.

The Bright Spark says…

From a drivers point of view, we were evaluating Sam (Dejonghe) probably less so because we know him so well already as he does a lot of work in the simulator for us and has taken part in the rookie test with us the past two seasons as well.

This test actually helps him to be able to improve his simulator work because he gets more of an understanding of the car, helping feedback correlation between the car and the simulator. It means that the work he’s doing through the season is more relevant, more accurate and more targeted.

Pipo (Derani) was a genuine rookie driver and we evaluated him to see what he’s like in all areas and he did a very respectable job.

From a technical perspective, we have limited opportunities in-season to test the car. We’ve now done five races at four venues where we have a list of improvements, changes and development work to be carried out.

We can’t make changes to the powertrain because the car is homologated and fixed now. But this is a good opportunity to get stronger, whether that is in the area of efficiency, energy or just drivability in the car. So we had a busy programme and a lot was learned and will be further evaluated back at our technical base in the UK.

In terms of software and chassis work we were making sure that they were comfortable in the car, and that they used the tyres correctly and made the car as driveable as possible.

Also, we work on our energy systems is key to make sure we are getting the best efficiency out of the car all the time. It sounds obvious but it has to be a major objective.

We certainly had the aim and objective of doing a race distance, because we are looking at various ways of expanding our understanding of how we run them strategically.

Clearly we weren’t as quick as we would like to have been in the race at Marrakesh. We had some indicators where the car performance was very good, other areas where it wasn’t quite so good.

Jérôme got quite a bit stronger towards the end of the race. So we take that data and, in some instances, you’ve got your full race run, in other instances you just go out and do five or ten lap run back-to-back during the test to try and find out where the improvements can be made.

In terms of the driver evaluation, we want to give these guys a chance to do a full race distance to see what they are like and what they are made of.

Both Pipo and Sam carried out our planned programme and we found some useful solutions to things during the running which at the end of the day is what testing is all about.

Engineers will always tell you they want more on track running but, with Formula E now in the second season of its present rules cycle, we always knew there would be less opportunity beyond the days we get for private manufacturer testing.

But the key takeaway from last Sunday was that we did a whole bunch of kilometres (just short of 500kms) and now we have a good amount of time to the next race to really work hard to ensure we make the most of it and go and have a great second phase of the season.