From Team Managers to mechanics, via drivers and PRs, a Formula E team would not function without any of these. Delphine Biscaye, Team Manager of Venturi, has a key role in the Monegasque squad, which she discusses with editor Andrea Perilli.
“Formula E, in comparison to Formula 1, has less races during the year, so we have less travelling. But as it is shorter, it is very intense”, comments Delphine on the phone. The cars have just been sent to Hong Kong, ahead of the very first two races of the season, where the team will start its fourth season in the series with a very promising lineup.
“We arrive in Hong Kong on Tuesday, we only have Tuesday night to get over jetlag. We start on Wednesday lunchtime, on Thursday we work on the car, Friday we have, in some races, shakedown, and everything is on Saturday, and sometimes on Sundays”, she sums up the routine Venturi has at every race weekend. “It's very intense, very tiring, but that's the job, really.”
Delphine is Venturi Formula E's Team Manager, a key role in the functioning of the whole team. Her job ranges from making sure everyone is “at the right place in the right time”, to defending and reclaiming to the FIA about any incident that may occur. Undoubtedly, hers is a busy and sometimes tiring job, but from the tone of her voice when she illustrates her job is a clear statement that she loves what she does.
Race weekends are well-structured and tight in terms of time, in the fully-electric championship; and this not only applies for drivers, but also for every team member and media that work in the series. “On Thursday afternoon, I've got all the meetings with the FIA, we have different technical meetings. Then Thursday evening and Friday morning, I need to fill in what they call the “technical passport” of the car.
“So for each race, we have to declare the different parts [of the car] we have changed to the FIA, so that the car is always conformed to the homologation and technical regulations. On Friday morning we also have the scrutineering, so they check the car to make sure everything is okay, and we go to the weighing platform, so they check the weight of the car”.
Saturdays -and in some cases, Sundays, as well, are the days when the action on track truly happens. But what exactly happens behind the scenes? “On Saturday, I take care of the schedule of the team and everything is planned. Like, every ten minutes I know where the people have to be and what they have to do, so I have to make sure that everybody is doing their job.
“Then, during all of the sessions, I am the one defending the team if we are involved in any incident, so if the FIA has any reclamation, I am the one defending the team and also making the reclamations against the others, if needed; so I have to be concentrating in all the events.”
However, Delphine's job during the weekend does not stop once the chequered flag is waved; in fact, it is not nearly finished. “Once the sessions are finished, we have the debrief with all the engineers and the mechanics. Then, the last part is packing and filling in all the documents for the export of the cars and the materials”.
Speaking of races: next Saturday 2nd December, the team will start its 34th race in the FIA Formula E Championship. Ahead of this new season, the team has retained Germany's Maro Engel and signed Italian driver Edoardo Mortara.
“Maro Engel has been with the team for one season, this is the second year. He's very well integrated in the team and already with the car; even with the new car for Season 4, with a new powertrain. [Maro] has good knowledge and we rely on him, we trust him.
“Edo is new to Formula E, he made a good impression during testing, so we have good expectations from him. He has also won several times in Macau, and Macau is a street track, exactly as we have in Formula E, so we hope we will benefit from his experience in street racing, and that's why we think he's a good pick, as well. He gets on well with Maro, as they know each other from DTM”.
As the action starts in Asian soil, the team knows this first endeavour will be tougher than the rest of the season. “We know that the first weekend is always difficult for the team. You have to work on the setup for the first time on the new garage, you have to build the car for the first time on a race configuration”.
Before the actual season starts, the team tested the Season 4 car at the Circuito Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, which was received with criticism from the drivers. Venturi did not obtain the performance desired, but this certainly does not bring down the Monaco-based team's hopes. “Testing in Valencia was not very easy for us, so we've got a lot of work in Hong Kong, to prove that our car is good and will deliver good results during the year, so we will do our best and show everybody the good points for our car”.
The start of a new season remarks the question on whether this will be Venturi's season. The team has been working a lot during the off-season period. “Venturi started to reinforce its team on the software side, at the middle of the year; we also developed an in-house simulator, which is inside our building in Monaco. This is something we have only had for the last six months, so we will continue to develop it and we hope that it will head to improve our performance.
“We have been working a lot the past year on the development of the car with our partner ZF, so they are new in Formula E and they are working with us on the car to improve the performance. We asked them to help us on the performance of the powertrain ahead of Hong Kong. You always improve during the season, as you have time to test new strategies, especially on the software side”.
Michael Benyahia joins the team as its development driver: “He will work on the simulator and test some strategies before going to every ePrix." The goals are clear, and as soon as the red lights go out in Hong Kong, we will see what the team is capable of in Season 4. “With all of this, we hope that we will improve, and our goal is to be at the same level as the top teams."
In racing, you may have wins and defeats, you might live a bed of roses or find yourself in a blind alley, but it is being part of a team that shows you what really counts. “The good thing about Venturi, is that we are very small team and have a very good team spirit. Even if it is difficult during the course of the events, given that we've got a very good atmosphere within the team, it helps to keep up and to focus on the goal we all want to achieve together."