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Formula E

Formula E teams using ‘remote ops’ rooms despite warning

by Sam Smith
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Some Formula E teams are running remote engineering cells within their hotel rooms at Berlin despite being specifically asked by Formula E Operations not to.

The Race can reveal that at least three teams have some form of remote operation in addition to their ‘at track’ team in Berlin and ‘HQ teams’ back at official bases.

Although the practice of having extra staff at the hotel working during and between sessions is entirely allowed within the rules, Formula E explicitly requested ahead of the event that they should not be used this time.

This was believed to be a health and safety led move and was communicated to teams via official information just prior to the Berlin event beginning.

Most teams have brought additional staff to Germany to rotate with other team members.

They are being utilised to provide rest periods for some staff and to also be at the track on days when drivers don’t need to be on site.

Berlin Formula E 2020

From next season onwards, teams will be limited to six persons having a remote facility at their own bases thanks to a new rule to be introduced and policed by the FIA.

Presently there are no restrictions on the number of locations or personnel in the FIA sporting regulations.

Speaking to The Race during his quarantine status at The Estrel hotel near Tempelhof after testing positive for COVID-19, Mahindra boss Dilbagh Gill said that he had sent extra staff “who may be needed if someone falls ill,” to Berlin.

“We basically brought one replacement for every role, not every person,” he said.

“It’s just that during the day they help with some minimal remote operations.

“I think this is an unusual time as we need to have folks ready to go should they be needed.”

Mercedes team principal Ian James believes that operating with additional staff outside of the track confines is acceptable as long as they adhere to the tight COVID-19 safety protocols.

He made it clear, however, that Mercedes was not running a remote ops capability at the hotel in Berlin.

Berlin Formula E 2020

“I think there’s got to be a careful distinction between the teams of engineers that you have there as a back-up,” he told The Race.

“So should somebody not be able to work here [at the track], then you’re obviously able to still function as a team. I think that’s a very wise measure to take.

“We’ve done what a number of other teams have done, as well with engineers and mechanics.

“As long as they’re following the measures that are set out, and as long as they’re within that bubble and behaving and operating the same way as we are at the moment, then I think that’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do.”

A fresh round of COVID-19 testing is taking place at the hotel today.

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