FORMULA E: THE MAN BEHIND THE CHAMPION
THE WEEKS BEFORE THE RACE
DESK AND DRIVING SIMULATOR
Practice, qualifying and the race in Formula E all take place on a single day. No motorsport format is more compact and complex. This is why the teams have to maximise their pre-race efforts. “Before travelling to a race track as an engineer 70 per cent of my work has already been done,” says Markus Michelberger. During the weeks before a Formula E event, together with his colleagues at ABT’s headquarters in Kempten, he analyses the setups required for the next race track – for aerodynamics, the mechanical suspension system and the electric drive system.
The resulting start setup for the total of four Audi e-tron FE04 Formula E racing cars is subsequently tested and further developed by the racing drivers, Daniel Abt (pictured) and Lucas di Grassi, in the driving simulator at Audi’s motorsport headquarters in Neuburg an der Donau. Both of them spend at least one full day in the simulator cockpit for this purpose.
THE DAY BEFORE THE RACE
OPTIMISING THE CARS
8.45–11.30: The findings from the first free practice session are used to optimise the entire setup of the Audi e-tron FE04. The task list becomes longer if technical defects or accident damage occurred in practice session 1.
QUALIFYING AND SUPER POLE
12.00–13.00: Now the time has come for Lucas di Grassi and all other drivers to battle for the best possible grid position – which means setting absolute best times. With maximum generator output (200 kW/272 PS) and on the fastest line the track offers. Between qualifying and super pole – the shootout for the top five qualifiers on a one-by-one flying lap – only the brakes of the Formula E racing cars reaching temperatures of up to 800 degrees Celsius may be cooled in the pits. Any other work on the cars is prohibited.
In this most hectic stage of a Formula E race day Markus Michelberger is the calm anchor. Above all, he has to keep an eye on the clock. Everything happens in quick succession. “If Lucas qualifies for super pole he’ll climb out of the cockpit in spite of the short break. In that case the mechanics and I make sure that he climbs in and goes out again in time,” the race engineer explains.
AFTER THE RACE
16.55–22.00: When Lucas di Grassi clinches one of the spots on the podium Markus Michelberger congratulates his driver and briefly celebrates with him as well. There is also enough time for beaming on the team’s celebration picture. After that, though, the race engineer and his colleagues have to go back to work.
For final scrutineering by the stewards of the meeting and subsequent shipping, the Formula E cars have to be partially dismantled and safely packaged. Plus, there are plenty of data to analyse. Only when all this has been done the race will be over for the man behind the champion.
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