BERLIN: MEETING TREPIDATION WITH PREPARATION
As Berlin inches closer, the stress levels escalate, and furrowed brows of engineers across the Formula E community grow ever deeper.
Half a seasons’ worth of racing over a nine day period will be relished and agonised upon in equal measure.
While the quirks of a tumultuous season six will be remembered for a certain period, the history books will recall it with more permanent ink.
But the nerves and trepidation are being hidden well by Mahindra Racing’s Lewis Butler as he lays out the challenges and aims for ‘Das Berlin Sechs’ (the Berlin Six) next month.
Our technical director is a picture of calm as he outlines the sheer immensity of demand on the engineering team as they prepare for Berlin and get set for some serious hours of work at the new Mahindra Racing base in Banbury.
“One of the biggest challenges is going to be combining technical and operational, because it’s all going to be a little more extreme than a standard Formula E event,” he relates.
“Basically it is all going to be putting quite a lot of strain on everybody over that period. So we need to make sure that we are physically and mentally refreshed, which might sound straightforward, but honestly, it's going to be difficult because of all the pressures."
If the theatre of racing in Berlin was not dramatic enough then Formula E will throw in another variable with very short notice – the tracks!
“The multiple circuit layout aspect is very much a factor as well because it will change quite a lot of our workflow priority over a typical weekend,” says Butler.
“We are trying to second guess the layouts somewhat as we go in to the next few weeks as we don’t have the information - which we know is being done intentionally by Formula E to make the spectacle more challenging!”
The mind games and sportsmanship that is such a rich part of Formula E’s fabric is sure to offer a spectacular backdrop to the combative spirit of racing, as always. Butler is under no illusions that it will be brutally tough on racing and strategy.
“In terms of the overall challenge that the Berlin races presents us with, let's pretend for a minute that we don't have a great first set of double header races, and I'm sure there will somebody in that situation, you have to then try and react properly and effectively,” he says.
“You have a single day which is majorly hard in normal circumstances let alone these ones. I guess though that if you're on top of everything and super happy, everybody may know what you've been trying to do in those first two races, and then tackle you on those things during that same day. I think it is going be very interesting to see by the end of race four whether the competitive order changes much or not. The key thing that everybody is going to be trying to work out is to ensure that the workflow between factory and track is very fluid and clear.”
As ever, simple human communication and joined-up delivery of all aspects of the team will be a massive boost.
“Communication is going to be vital to achieve an awful lot of work so that we can understand what our weaknesses were, rectify those and then ensure we maintain any advantages,” says Butler.
“This is going to be quite tricky I think because clearly you give away things when you go to races as no-one is going to be sandbagging for sure. It’s going to be proper ‘do not miss these events’ racing for the spectators and you have to say that is why we all love and relish Formula E.”