Formula E – A Farewell to Battersea
This weekend Battersea Park said farewell to the Formula-E, so the all-electric championship put on a great spectacle for all spectators and marshals. I was sad to learn that it was the last time the Formula-E was going to be run in the park and I would be gutted if London didn’t host a round of the championship next year, because as you are about to find out, I had a great weekend marshalling it.
The crashes and the bangs only added to the weekend of great racing, but before all that started, the weekend had to get off on the right foot. For the pilgrimage down to London, nine of us piled into a minibus with all our kit and set off on the five-hour journey to get us to Battersea Park. To make the journey go a little bit fast, myself and Adrian Williams played pat-a-cake before we got the whole minibus involved in a game of eye spy.
Friday was a little different to a normal days marshalling with only one session in the day. So with only half an hour of marshalling to do, we decided to go on a track walk and familiarise ourselves with a very different type of circuit than the ones we are used too.
I was allocated to Post Three (the first 90 degree left of the circuit) for the weekend, and marshalling there was one of the most interesting and exciting days I’ve ever had on post. This was of course made even better by the great team that I was on post with.
You’re probably wondering why it was so good? Well the tight track, adverse chamber and trees suffocating some parts of the track from light, tested the drivers. A few proceeded with caution until they were comfortable with the track, but Nicolas Prost, son of four-times F1 champion Alain Prost, threw caution to the wind and was rewarded with pole position.
Whilst Prost pushed on, British driver, Sam Bird clipped the concrete barrier on the exit, but that was all we had had on a what was turning into a strangely quiet Saturday. This all changed though as round nine of the Formula-e championship started. Daniel Abt and Robin Frijns tangled coming into our corner, meaning we had to jump into action to get the crash cleared up.
As soon as the safety car was out, it was time for it to be brought in as the speed of the recovery was unbelievable.
With racing underway again, the weekend became far from quiet.
Lucas Di Grassi and Sebastian Buemi, the two championship title rivals, started rubbing shoulders to gain whatever advantage they could over the other. This gave the indication that Sunday was going to be one very busy day down at Post Three!
As a new dawn broke, so did Simona De Silvestro’s rear suspension, as she made contact with the barrier coming out of the final turn. Antonio Felix De Costa was caught out by the slow-moving Amlin Andretti racing car and crashed causing the first red flag of Sunday and our first incident to deal with.
The multi-car incidents weren’t going to finish at that either; with the qualifying complete for Round 10, Buemi had the pole and the advantage over Di Grassi. That smattering of contact on Saturday boiled over with a brief throwback to the Senna and Prost days of F1, the two championships rivals collided and it was down at Post Three again.
Whilst the rest of my team dealt with the debris down at the corner and the run off, I had to put on a sprint to get up to Buemi’s red wing which lay stricken in the middle of the circuit. No time for the green cross code for me; I knew the race was under safety car conditions and the track was clear of cars, I therefore acted on instinct to get that debris. Whilst I don’t do marshalling for compliments, but merely to keep this sport we love going, the cheers and round of applause I got from the crowd made the weekend the best it could ever have been.
The pile of debris we collected from Di Grassi and Buemi’s incident. Enough to build a Formule-e car of our own!
Sebastian Buemi was eventually crowned World Champion after he got his car back to the pits, he switched to the other car and got the two points for the fastest lap, but for me the real champions were the marshals who made my weekend great.
The great team down at Post 3; who’s idea was it to take a picture with us facing the sun?!
Firstly, to Allan, Paul, Suzie, Richard, Kris, Martin, Ashlee and Aidy for making the trip down and the weekend hilariously funny; and secondly to Tony, Gill, Pete, John, Ian, Chris, Marius, Ryan and Bob our JCB driver, for making my marshalling hours fly by and again making it unbelievable fun.
This all leaves me with one last thing to say; Formula-e is a must for any marshal, just so they can experience something different.