Winning ways in Buenos Aires

Wow, what a weekend! Amlin Aguri’s first win in the FIA’s first fully electric championship! It is an amazing feeling to get a result after all the work put in by the team over the last three years.

“Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.”

Plus it takes a lot of work to start a new team in a completely new championship – but it’s worth it when all the effort is rewarded! Many people have asked what we did to get to the front, what has changed, how did we do it?

The build up to the race win really started after all of our troubles in Punta del Este.

The series test, on the Sunday after the Punta race, was the first time that Antonio (Felix de Costa) and Salvador (Duran) really had a chance to test the car after Antonio had missed much of the pre-season testing and the first race in Beijing with BMW DTM duties. This, coupled with the fact that race weekends are so short which restricts running, means that when you haven’t got the car in the “zone” it is extremely difficult to do anything meaningful with regard to setup or finding solutions.

Our race pace has been quick from the beginning with Takuma setting the fastest lap in Beijing. So what we were looking for was time to get a proper qualifying setup and thereby increase our race pace accordingly. You must remember that if we hadn’t had an issue during the pit stop in Malaysia, then Antonio could have finished in the top five and potentially on the podium. The engineers worked over the break between Beijing and Putrajaya and then over Christmas before Punta to get our models and understanding of the car to a point that we could validate this understanding during the Punta test. The result was a fastest first sector on the final run of the day before a Red Flag which showed that we were going in the right direction for the next race in Buenos Aires.

Antonio arrived in BA with a quietly confident attitude focussed on making the best of our great Punta test and determined to have a great weekend: everyone arriving on a high and following through is a good indicator of the picture of the weekend.

So how did the weekend go? Well in Free Practice 1 the car was quick straight of the box. There was good work carried out during the session, getting everything done that was on the plan; another good step. Some cars were running maximum qualifying power; hence the large gap at the front of the pack but P9 was respectable, showing of potential to come.

Then in FP2, it was maximum at- tack, our final preparation before qualifying and we were immediately quick with our final position of P3 only 0.4s off the leader which showed that our ultimate potential for qualifying and race performance was within reach.

Qualifying is always a lottery. Antonio drew Q1 while Salvador was in Q3. The elusive Q4 without red or yellow flags is the name of the game with a rubbered-in track and potentially better track temperatures, but we made the most of the quicker car and got ourselves in the top 10. Antonio felt it was better to aim for a top 10 position and wait to see how things went in the race instead of necessarily going for pole and having a problem. Starting P7, 0.5s from pole position showed again that we were in the right place for the race.

The race was quite chaotic, but Antonio and Salvador drove sensibly, both overtaking a number of drivers and making the best of battles going on around them. As the race went on we had a great pit stop which resulted in gaining positions for Antonio and a safety car which caused some confusion with everyone waiting for the screens to update with the final order to be clear.

As we moved up the leader board it became more and more stressful for everyone in the garage as there was more to lose with each increment Antonio gained! By the time he was in a podium position, the tension was showing on everyone’s faces! And as each problem happened on track we were increasingly on the edge of our seats! Salvador was also making up places and looked like he would get into the points as well.

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At that stage we could see that Antonio had plenty of battery life left over and
he was therefore in a great position to push all the way to the end of the race and catch Nick Heidfeld before the chequered flag. When the drive-through came for Nick we almost couldn’t believe it, we just had to hold our breath and bite our nails till the end of the race.

Some people might say that there was some luck involved, but you can bring up many old adages about finishing first that you must first finish, and that goes for every element of the car, our team work, the car setup, the drivers’ management of the car’s batteries, the control systems, our pit stop practice and also how the other teams run their cars. Every part of a team is important and we have proven in previous races that we too could have technical problems such as electronic control systems with Takuma at the first race and pit stop problems that cause issues.

Were we lucky?

Luck is when opportunity meets preparation,and we certainly had the pace to take the opportunities delivered to us over the weekend.

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Whats next? Miami, where we should make some improvement on all aspects of the team operation, the car setup, our race strategy and some driver training. We have the pace and now it is a matter of building on success and doing a better job at each race and chipping away at the championship points to move ourselves up the grid. After all we love a challenge; otherwise we wouldn’t have entered such a unique and brand new championship!

Following my last column I have been very interested in the questions that we are being asked in our pre-race press conferences, especially at Buenos Aires where they are big fans of motorsport. One of the most common topics was, ‘how will the technology find its way into the world?’ The best example I could see was the bus rapid transit system they have in the city which is a great example of where electric drive, regenerative systems and wireless charging will find its way quickly into practical everyday applications.

You should remember that Uruguay generates 45% of their electricity from hydro
with a target of 90% in 2015 coming from renewables. The intermittent nature of some renewables will benefit from the “Energy Cloud” that will be created when more electric vehicles connect to the network and allow off line storage in the night for solar and during low wind conditions for wind.

Reprinted from Mark Preston’s column Racing to the Future in Motorsport Monday

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Oxford Consortium Wins TSB Integrated Transportation Call

Technology Strategy Board: Integrated Transport – In Field Solutions
Project: Oxford Transport Laboratory

Benefiting people and business

The benefits of creating smarter, connected cities are clear – increased economic growth and better visitor experience whilst reducing environmental impact. Funded by the Technology Strategy Board, Oxford is embarking on an ambitious project to improve the experience of visiting the City by creating open systems, processes and technologies that will benefit visitors, residents and  businesses alike.

Driven by Innovation

The most important aspect of this project will be the harmonisation of the data and technologies that currently exist but remain locked into the business and government systems. Our ability to provide this data for the use of all stakeholders will be of critical importance in ensuring the continued growth of Oxford as a commercial, educational and employment centre.

This project will propose ways for Oxford to increase its economic viability for every stakeholder in the city – an improvement in traffic management, parking, increased visitor numbers, increased retail spend by visitors and better communication around mobility within the ring road are key objectives.

We also have an important job to do – limiting the impact of the closure of the Westgate centre and car park. Redevelopment plans mean that in January 2015 Oxford centre will lose 800 of it’s existing 2,000 car parking spaces, placing additional burdens on all areas of the transport system. As a result there is considerable risk of reduced income to retailers and businesses.

This initial 3 month project will provide clear analysis and recommendations as to how Oxford should approach these challenges, in both the short and longer terms. Innovation with technology, data and smart processes will be at heart of our recommendations, and will provide a platform for the development of an open system to the benefit of all.

Mobility, Communication, Partnerships

We already have a significant amount of data showing the way that people move in and around Oxford, and we are putting in significant efforts to analyse this data. However this project will go further than simply looking at traffic and transportation solutions. We recognise that to be successful, Oxford must also engage with people and businesses.

The key partners that will form part of the Oxford study bring a wide and varied experience – chipset providers and other technology providers, companies that run public transport, retailers, University and Local Authorities. We will cover all aspects that a smart city should provide to its visitors and residents..

The start of the journey

We are still at the formative stages of the Oxford project, focusing on understanding the main challenges that the city faces, analysing the data we have around transport and the movement of people in and around the city and establishing relationships with key companies and organisations.

 

About the Technology Strategy Board

The Technology Strategy Board is the UK’s innovation agency.  Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation.  Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit www.innovateuk.org.

About Preston Motorsport

Preston Motorsport was formed in 2005 by Mark Preston who wanted to create a company which used motorsports DNA to support the wider industry to create real disruptive innovation.  Preston Motorsports first worked with the Super Aguri team when it supported the entry into Formula 1 team, competing in the World Championship from 2006 to 2008. Their new partnership will see Super Aguri Formula E team compete in the FIA Formula E Championship for low emission cars, racing on 10 tracks across the globe commencing in September 2014.

Preston said, “it became obvious to us a few years ago that the future of transportation was not going to centre around cars as it has done for the last few decades, there will be a disruptive shift in how we live, travel and interact with transportation devices.  We believe strongly that the future will be “Mobility as a Service”.  We began working on this project in after a trip to San Francisco looking at innovation and ideas surrounding the future of automotive and came up with this proposal for Oxford.  We have a great set of partners who we believe will deliver exciting new ideas that can be rolled out to the world.”

http://www.prestonracing.com

About Oxford County Council

Working on this TSB project has enabled the County Council as Transport Authority to  form a consortium with Businesses and the Universities creating opportunities for the Council to lead, influence, and gain funding for innovative transport solutions.  The County Council will provide access to a variety of real-time and historical datasets sourced from the private and public sector. Creating business opportunities and encouraging SME to grow in Oxfordshire and the South East by allowing developers and other stakeholders to use the data they need to build applications and services for the benefit of transport users and beyond. Oxfordshire County Council is designing an  Innovation Support Programme which will provide a web portal with information about local and national business support services, linking up growing services and provide support and funding to the innovators , investors and entrepreneurs involved in the county’s innovation eco-system.

About DBi (Elisa Interactive Ltd)

DBi is one of Europe’s leading data and marketing technology consultancies, and was recently acquired by Havas Media Group in an effort to increase their global footprint in the space. Our focus is on the optimising technology and data that drives business insights and growth, and enabling companies to become smarter.

The Oxford project gives us the opportunity to work with a city, rather than with brands, however the objective for us is the same – how to make Oxford smarter through the use of data and technology. We incredibly excited to be part of making this happen.

About Zeta Automotive

Zeta Automotive, formed 25 years ago is a highly innovative electronic development company. With several awards for innovative technology, Zeta is a Tier one supplier to the motor industry.  Arriva PLC recently acquired a majority stake in Zeta having approved one of its latest products for roll out across its fleet of buses.  Arriva is one of the largest transport services organisations in Europe.

About The University of Oxford

The Transport Studies Unit (TSU) (http://www.tsu.ox.ac.uk) is an interdisciplinary research centre based at University of Oxford. Over the past 40 years the TSU has established an international research reputation in the fields of transport policy analysis, mobility and travel behaviour research, and the development of new methodologies and tools. Particular emphasis is placed on understanding the social, economic, environmental and health implications of transport and mobility over both time and space. The TSU’s work ranges in geographic scale from the local to the global, and the full spectrum of quantitative and qualitative research techniques is deployed.

David Banister, Director and Professor of Transport Studies, said: “Transport is a topic that impacts on all of us and it substantially influences the way in which we see the world and interact with it. Transport is also of great importance to economic wellbeing and the social participation of individuals and communities, in particular in mixed-use, urban areas such as Oxford.”

The Energy & Power Group (EPG) in the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford undertakes computational and experimental sustainable energy research with particular focus onsmart energy systems, energy storage, transport and electrical machines. It has a strong record of commercialising the research activity and has lead to three spin out companies.

Malcolm McCulloch, Head of the Energy and Power Group, said “This opportunity can enable the City of Oxford to pioneer an exciting integrated mobility system that improves the experience of travelling into the City and reduces the net carbon footprint.”

About Oxford Brookes University

The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences provides a range of professionally accredited mechanical, automotive, motorsport, mathematical and statistical programmes of study. Our focus is to provide world class, high quality teaching and applied research so as to give our students an excellent experience.