ALBERTO BLANCO - ENGINEERING A PASSION

Racing was always a passion for Alberto Blanco. But unlike many of his colleagues in the Formula E paddock, he didn’t think it could become his profession.

But since he acted upon a deep yearning to become involved in motorsport engineering, Blanco has accelerated his development to the stage where he is now one of the most respected in the all-electric series. This was recognised in July 2019 when he received the Modis Engineer of the Year Award in recognition of his contribution.

It was a far cry from a few years prior, when he was essentially a racing fan who got his kicks by writing articles and appearing on podcasts discussing and debating the sport.

“I was watching races on the TV, but I wasn’t involved in my professional background in motorsport. I was a manager for HP for Intellectual Property services in the banking industry but it was around 2014 that I decided that I wanted to get in to racing somehow. So I started by doing some kind of, let's say, amateur reporting. I was initially covering technical matters, doing a lot of radio and podcasting” says Blanco.

This coincided with the inception of Formula E, and in turn saw Blanco undertaking a training course which featured learning many new engineering skills such as the study of composite structures.

2015 saw Blanco having to essentially make the decision to stick with a comfortable professional life with HP or following his heart in to engineering. He chose the latter.

“There's so many new things about the category itself, and also, when changing from one generation to the other, the possibility to develop new ideas from the engineering side is mega,” says Blanco.

Initially it was through an internship with Campos Racing that led to an opportunity to work on simulator and strategy elements. This dovetailed with Campos becoming the operational partners of Mahindra Racing at the start of the 2015-16 Formula E season.

“I was doing mostly factory work and not going to the races then,” recalls Blanco.

“I had the possibility in season three to be with the race team and I loved what I saw from the first moment I went to the track. It was so different, and on every level, especially in terms of the strategy and the energy management of the two cars. I think it's beautiful the way that Formula E is open to develop and to put the knowledge of everybody into a direction to make the car faster.”

Blanco’s first race was Buenos Aires, which was not so easy for the team, but several podium positions then followed and a memorable debut win at the Berlin E-Prix with Felix Rosenqvist which Blanco describes as “a fantastic experience to meet the challenge and find lots of performance from the car.”

Blanco relishes the engineering challenge in Formula E and is always looking for new angles and ideas to ensure Mahindra Racing has tricks up its collective strategy sleeve.

“There's so many new things about the category itself, and also, when changing from one generation to the other, the possibility to develop new ideas from the engineering side is mega,” says Blanco.

These skills have been important as the Gen 2 era of Formula E has dawned, and Blanco believes that engineering input is as vital as it has ever been.

“The (Gen 1 and Gen 2) regulations were quite different as we had two cars,” he says.

“We had races that were defined by the length of a fixed amount of laps, but usually this amount of laps was outside (energy parameters), so that forced you to go with a longer stint with one of the cars. With the completely new (Gen 2) rules, we have one car, but have races where they are defined by time, with a limited amount of energy that you have to distribute to be as fast as you can. You don't know how many laps you're going to complete. So again, this is something completely new from the engineering point of view; defining which is the way to manage the strategy and to manage the energy.”

Alberto and his colleagues have to work with incredible attention to detail, but they also have to manage their own temperament too in order to drive through the most efficient and clever solutions.

“I prefer to work a lot more hours and to lose some hours of sleep if needed, in order to complete all of my checklists and double check everything,” he says.

“By doing this properly, I'm prepared for unexpected things to occur. It is almost impossible to be ready for every scenario, but we try!" Alberto continued.

“So, I think that I have learned a lot about being 100% prepared for the race, but at the same time 100% prepared for unexpected things happening and reacting as quickly as possible to these things. In order to do this, if you are very calm and relaxed, then probably you are not going to react on time. So there has to be a balance between not getting nervous and being nervous enough to react quickly. The approach before the race is all about finding this balance and to try to make sure that what can be under my control is going to be under control.”