***FOX SPORTS Q&A***
FORMER F1 MECHANIC MATCHETT HAILS FORMULA E GEN2 CAR AS A ‘GAME CHANGER … A GENUINE AND RESPECTED RACE CAR’
FOX Sports Live from Formula E Season Finale in Brooklyn July 13-14
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Steve Matchett, a former Formula One race mechanic and FOX Sports analyst, takes a look at the current state of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship season and the Formula E Gen 2 car. Matchett is the author of a semi-autobiographical trilogy based around his years in the Formula One pit lane, where he was part of F1 legend Michael Schumacher’s championship teams in 1994 and 1995. The final rounds of a season delivering 13 races in 12 cities across five continents, runs on a temporary circuit along the water in Brooklyn, N.Y., with the Saturday, June 12 race live on FOX, and the Sunday, June 13 finale live on FS1.
FOX Sports: This is the first season with the Gen2 car. How did it impact the racing? Where does it still need some work?
Matchett: “The biggest concern with the introduction of any new race car (in any racing series) is its potential for unreliability. Thankfully, the Gen2 Formula E car has behaved itself extremely well; and while on occasion we have seen cars slow to a rather undignified stop, most of these failings have been a result of ‘suboptimal’ power management by the teams and their derring-do drivers — not the fault of the car itself. The Gen2 is not particularly dependent on its aerodynamics — the very nature of short, winding street tracks means that downforce will always play second fiddle to the suspension’s lead. However, if asked how the Gen2 car could be further improved, my answer would be more power, increased battery life. The day we see Formula E cars able to use the full grand prix circuit in Monaco, able to climb the hill leading into Casino square, heads held high, that’s the day the sport’s dedicated engineers and designers can take a hard-earned vacation.”
FOX Sports: Where does Formula E go next in its evolution? Does it still have work to do to be fully accepted by the motor sports community?
Matchett: “It seems to me that the future of Formula E looks very bright. Arguably, the first two/three seasons of the sport were difficult times, difficulties with being accepted as a legitimate member of the international motor racing family: ‘Golf cart racing … who cares?’ Well, without any doubt whatsoever, many folks did care, both inside and outside of the paddock. Attendance figures have only continued to grow. Big names such as Audi, BMW, Renault/Nissan saw the need to participate, and more big names: Mercedes, and Porsche are champing at the bit to be involved in the near future. And, in season five, the Gen2 car has shown itself a game-changer – the first Formula E car able to cover a full e-prix distance — a genuine and respected race car in what has now become a genuine and respected (FIA sanctioned) international racing championship.”
FOX Sports: Season 5 saw eight different winners in the first eight races, before things started to settle out. What was your view of the racing/competitiveness this season?
Matchett: “We’ve witnessed some wonderfully close racing throughout season five, and long may it continue to be this way. What has become increasingly clear: tiny mistakes can prove extremely costly. Again, the nature of temporary street tracks only amplifies this: the near complete absence of runoff areas — one or two degrees of yaw, the car kicking into slight oversteer, and the thing is in the barrier. Moreover, not one team seems to maintain a consistent advantage over the competition. All of this, in my own humble estimation, is only for the betterment of the show.”
FOX Sports: If you were Formula E king for a day and could do one thing immediately to or within the series, what would it be and why?
Matchett: “To me, the overriding aspect of the sport which needs addressing is qualifying. Made ‘king for a day’ the first change I would make would be to form the entry list of super-pole drivers *not* from the overall fastest six lap times achieved in group qualifying (with, perhaps, four of these fastest laps having been set in group four, when track conditions are most favorable) but rather from the fastest driver from each of the four groups. The fastest driver in group one advances to super-pole, as does the fastest driver in group two, etc. Doing this would remove entirely the near consistent whinges from drivers and teams that their requirement to run in group one handicapped their potential pace. This gives us four of the six drivers in my reformed structure to the super-pole, the remaining two would be the two drivers at the bottom of the drivers’ championship standings — this boosting their potential to score points in the upcoming race, and serving only to tighten the points spread throughout the entire field. Well, ’tis nothing but an amusing notion, and we can but dream of such things … for I am but sand beneath the wheels of Caesar’s golden chariot.”
Formula E NYC E-Prix television schedule (all times ET and subject to change):
|Round 12 Qualifying||Saturday, July 13, Noon||FS2|
|Round 12 Prerace||Saturday, July 13, 3:30 PM (Live)||FOX|
|Round 12 Race||Saturday, July 13, 4:00 PM ET (Live)||FOX|
|ETrophy Series||Sunday, July 14, 11:00 AM||FS2|
|Round 13 Qualifying||Sunday, July 14, Noon||FS2|
|Round 13 Race||Sunday, July 14, 3:30 PM (Live)||FS1|
|ETrophy Series||Sunday, July 14, 11:00 PM||FS2|
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