Team bosses detail gruelling Rome rebuilds

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Team bosses detail gruelling Rome rebuilds

Two Team Principals that had cars involved in last weekend’s big Rome crash, speak out about the enormous rebuilding effort that went on overnight.


Jaguar TCS Racing’s Team Principal James Barclay has been speaking about the crash that saw six cars retire from Saturday’s race, including his driver Sam Bird. The accident, which occurred on lap 10 at the fastest part of the circuit, resulted in a red flag period of 45 minutes and became Formula E’s longest-ever race. 

“We love this track,” Barclay began. “The drivers love this track. But it definitely does have some really high speed and really challenging corners. That Turn 6 sector of the track, unfortunately, caught a number out on Saturday. 

“For Sam in the race, he joined that group and it was just really unfortunate that we had so many cars following him. But the most important thing is just how strong the GEN3 car is. It’s a testament to the work from the FIA, from our team and from the suppliers to build a car, which can withstand those massive impacts, not just one but multiple. 

“That's the most important thing of yesterday; we can come again today without anyone getting injured. That's always a good thing. As always, we continue to learn from that and improve.”

Saunders rebuild piece

The process of rebuilding the cars is a huge effort, and one that led team members to stay up until the early morning to get the cars turned around and ready for race day number two. For Jaguar and Bird, Barclay said that usually they try to assess the damage before committing to such a big job, but in a crash of this nature it was clear that they would need a new chassis. 

“It was pretty clear from the size of that impact that we would need a new chassis. That was very, very clear. Straight away, we started preparing and getting ready for building a new car. Not a small job, because there wasn't honestly a huge amount left of Sam’s chassis. So we were into a big shift. 

“Sometimes you're prepared and do a lot of work to minimise it when it happens. These are really complex cars. So one thing is getting the useful bits of the previous car, putting them on to the new car, and then replacing the completely broken parts. Then literally starting the car to make sure it actually works. Because again, you have to have all the systems broken, shut all that apart hardware talking to each other.

“Then before you even think about performance, just firstly get that bit right. So everything from the hardware, the bodywork and just making sure the bodywork is ready to go and fits well. It's a huge operation.

“Normally, you'd want to take a week and a half to do that back at the factory. And the fact that as many of the teams did that overnight is testament to the amazing mechanics and tech teams. We like a lot of teams, operate in a bit of a shift as well just to try and give everyone a chance to eat dinner, you can't just because they've had a long day already in immense heat. It’s incredibly testing from a human perspective.”

Another individual who was hyping up his team was Maserati MSG Racing’s Team Boss, James Rositer. His driver, Edoardo Mortara, crashed heavily into Bird and his Jaguar. 

Rome motw rebuild

“It’s testament to the championship, with such strong safety procedures and the car itself,” he told Formula E. “We were obviously super grateful Edo (Mortara) came out okay – as well as Sam and the rest of the drivers. There’s nothing worse as a racing driver when you’re stationary in the middle of the track on a blind corner.

“There was a lot of damage to the cars but they’re repairable and we’re feeling grateful everyone in the paddock was safe yesterday.

“I was sure when I saw the shunt that we were going to need a spare chassis, so there was not much discussion. We knew we had a spare fired up in the last 10 days ready to go, so we’re grateful there was only one Stellantis chassis that needed replacing. 

“It was still a lot of work and it took the guys until about 01:30am – it was all hands on deck, it’s a massive process. It was a big challenge but we have an amazing group of people and we did what we had to do to get it done.”

As well as the efforts to make sure the car is okay, it is also important to make sure the pilot is also fine - something Rositer understands well as a racing driver himself. 

“Anyone who has a big shunt like that needs a chat, just to make sure they’re okay. I went to go and see him in the medical center to make sure he was okay during the red flag and we’ve spoken a lot since. 

“There was nothing he could do and the first thing is to make sure he’s safe and physically okay. Then it’s just about reassuring him that there’s definitely nothing he could have done in that situation coming around a blind corner like that with a car slap bang in the middle of the road. He was always going to hit something; either the wall or a car – it was just unfortunate. 

“It was also painful on the results side of things – he’s looking for that big one and he was super fast all day.”