Listening to Faraday Future Dragon Racing Formula E radio conversations

Motorsport.com spent the final two rounds of the Season 3 of the FIA Formula E electric Championship in the garages of the Faraday Future Dragon Racing team, listening to the instructive radio conversations.

Listening to Faraday Future Dragon Racing Formula E radio conversations
Jérôme d'Ambrosio, Dragon Racing
Motorsport.com journalist René Fagnan watching the race with Dragon Racing team members
Loic Duval, Dragon Racing
Loic Duval, Dragon Racing switching cars
Jérôme d'Ambrosio, Dragon Racing
Jérôme d'Ambrosio, Dragon Racing
Loic Duval, Dragon Racing
Jérôme d'Ambrosio, Dragon Racing
 Jérôme d'Ambrosio, Dragon Racing, and Loic Duval, Dragon Racing
 Loic Duval, Dragon Racing
 Jérôme d'Ambrosio, Dragon Racing, checks the data with his team in the garage
Loic Duval, Dragon Racing
Loic Duval, Dragon Racing

As it is now, each Formula E team uses two cars to run the one-hour races. It means that each driver starts the race in one car and then they have to do a pit stop around mid-race to switch mounts.

That is because the Williams-made spec battery does not have the capacity to power the car for the entire duration of the race. However, that situation will be fixed in the near future as more technical breakthroughs are implemented in the car.

Like in any street electric car, the management of the depletion of the battery is crucial. And since there’s no complete telemetry between the cars and the pits, the drivers have a significant role to play during the races.

Dragon Racing driver Jérôme D’Ambrosio told Motorsport.com about the difference between the steering wheel of a Formula 1 car and the one he’s working with in his Formula E car.

“In F1, the driver is told what to do to adjust his controls and buttons,” the Belgian driver said. “The engineers tell the driver something coded, like ‘Red 3, Rev 4’ by radio, and he adjusts the switches accordingly.

“Here, in Formula E, we have to make these decisions ourselves and constantly modify the settings to suit the handling of the car, the power that’s available, the drainage of the battery and its regeneration.”

For that reason, each lap the driver must tell his team the level of power of the battery. He goes on the radio and says a series of numbers like “1-8-1-4”. This number comes down every lap.

At Dragon Racing, D’Ambrosio’s race engineer is Alan Cocks and Loïc Duval’s engineer is former F1 expert Jacky Eeckelaert. Team owner Jay Penske and Technical Director Nigel Beresford also talk to the drivers on the radio.

We won’t provide our readers with a transcription of everything that has been said during the two races of the inaugural Montréal ePrix, but the most interesting information.

RACE 1 - Saturday

The race has started and the drivers are told about the level of energy of the batteries.

Team to Duval: [Rotary switch] Position 9. You’ve got the same energy as the guys around you.

Team to D’Ambrosio: Jérôme, you have a little more energy than the guys in front of you, so if you want to try to pass them it’s okay. If you want to save, that’s okay too.

D’Ambrosio to team: Tire pressures too high on the left, adjust on second car.

Team to D’Ambrosio: Go to position 6 on the central rotary. And coast more if you can.

Team to Duval: You need to save more energy.

Team to D’Ambrosio: [Race control has announced a full course yellow] Pit this lap! Pit this lap!

D’Ambrosio: It’s too late.

Team to D’Ambrosio: Okay, Pit next lap.

Meanwhile, Loïc Duval was the victim of a collision out on the track, and he brought his damaged car back into the pits.

Duval to team: My race is over. I think we should go out and try to go for the fastest lap [of the race].

The team makes adjustment on Duval’s car, putting back the qualifying settings.

Duval to team: Is the downforce the same as this morning? Same as quali or same as practice?

Team to Duval: Quali. Fastest race lap so far is a 25.56 by [Jean-Éric] Vergne. You can do a run, come in, wait, cool them down [the tires] and do another run. Regen on position 3.

Team to Duval’s crew chief: Send him now [back on the track].

Team to D’Ambrosio: There’s a car in the wall. We may get a Safety Car here.

Team to D’Ambrosio: Safety Car! Yes! You gonna be passing the Safety Car on the front stretch and it’s gonna pick up the rest of the field. You’ve got about 75% [energy] and the other guys will have 50%.

Team to D’Ambrosio: You have to hurry up to catch the pack. Step on it. You’ll be able to go flat out until the end of the race. Clean you tires and get ready. Safety Car coming in this lap.

Team to Duval [who has set the fastest lap in the race]: Nobody except [Adam] Carroll behind you is trying for fastest lap. So you better pit this lap and stay out of trouble. There’s only three laps left in the race.

Team to D’Ambrosio: This is the final lap. You’ve got 4% more energy than the guys in front of you.

Despite a late-race contact with a rival, D’Ambrosio finished 11th, and Duval clocked the fastest lap of the race, giving him an extra championship point.

RACE 2 - Sunday

The very last race of the season was held on Sunday afternoon. D’Ambrosio was 10th on the starting grid and Duval, 12th. They both gained two spots early in the race.

Team to Duval: You have 1% more [energy] than Jérôme.

Team to Duval: [Maro] Engel is behind you and going a lap less [for his car change], so is Jérôme.

Team to Duval: One click more on central rotary. We’ll try to keep Engel behind, but if we can’t, we’ll match him. Right now we’re trying to go one lap more than him.

Team to Duval: You have 6% more than Engel. He’s stopping short compared to you. You have half a second in hand over [Nelson] Piquet. And Piquet has 3% less than you.

Team to D’Ambrosio: Just make to do 0.2 Kw/h over the next five laps.

Team to D’Ambrosio: You’re going to start losing regen. Just starting.

Team to D’Ambrosio: We need to save a little bit more.

Team to Duval [who’s getting worried about his energy consumption]: Pit lap 18. Run your race. We stay with the original plan.

Team to D’Ambrosio: Pit this lap.

After the pit stops, D’Ambrosio is eighth while Duval is 15th.

Team to Duval: Car in front of you is [Nelson] Piquet and you have 10% more energy than him.

Team to D’Ambrosio: [Tom] Dillmann is the car ahead and looks like he’s struggling.

Now comes the most difficult stages of the race for the drivers: trying to run a bit slower to save some energy while keeping their rivals at bay. Not an easy task…

Team to D’Ambrosio: Confirm you’re on position 5 because your battery temperature is rising quickly.

Team to D’Ambrosio [with 3 laps to go]: Continue to save, you’re currently P9.

D’Ambrosio to team: I’m using too much energy.

Duval to team: Someone [we won’t mention the name of the driver] crashed into me. I’m out.

Team to D’Ambrosio: This is the last lap. Watch Dillmann behind you.

D’Ambrosio crossed the line in 9th place while Duval was classified 19th, three laps down. During the cool down lap, team owner Jay Penske came on the radio to talk to his troops.

“Good job, Jérôme, good race, smart racing all day,” he said. “Not our season, boys, but it’s now time to regroup and think on how we can turn this ship around for season 4. Thanks for your hard work.”

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