I’m not sure about you, but for me Dragon Racing are a team that have always flown somewhat under the radar.
Quite how this has happened from a team comprising over 150 years of racing experience in its crew – 275 race wins, 24 Indy 500 wins – but even more significantly, runners-up in the inaugural 2014/15 Formula E Constructors Championship – I’m not entirely sure.
But believe me, that radar of mine is now firing pings off in rapid succession and as Nick Heidfeld will no doubt tell you following the Beijing ePrix, when you’ve got a couple of hungry dragons breathing down your neck, you’d better sit up and take notice!…
The Dragon Racing drivers hunting down third place man, Nick Heidfeld.
Sporting a new, eye-catching red and black livery for the 2015/16 season, Dragon Racing took summer testing in their stride. Again, rightly or wrongly they weren’t grabbing the headlines, but what they did manage to do was quietly amass an impressive 366 laps; the 4th highest team tally (by comparison, Renault e.Dams led the way with 426) and at the same time demonstrated consistent pace.
And it’s that word, consistency, that could again prove effectual for the team in season 2. Last year, drivers Jerome D’Ambrosio and team mate Loic Duval were strong points scorers throughout the season and D’Ambrosio was right there to claim the race win in Berlin following Di Grassi’s exclusion. Dragon Racing were also the only team to have both drivers appear on the podium together, not once but twice. Rightly so the team have retained this highly effective driver pairing and both immediately proved this decision to be the correct choice in Beijing, where they provided some of the hungriest racing and exhilarating moments in the race.
Two into one usually doesn’t go… the Dragon Racing boys just got away with it!
Something that has changed for the team this year however is the powertrain and in this regard the Beijing ePrix revealed a very interesting talking point. As you may know, for Season 2 the rules have been opened up to allow manufacturers to develop their own powertrain. Dragon Racing however has become the first customer team in Formula E and are in fact running the powertrain that the Venturi Formula E team has developed for their car. And yet in Beijing, Dragon Racing was able to comprehensively outperformed their supplier and thus closest rivals at this stage of the season. Duval and D’Ambrosio finished 4th and 5th respectively, whilst at Venturi, Stephane Sarrazin finished 9th, with Jacques Villeneuve a distant 14th; both with troubled races and regeneration issues.
Venturi Automobiles have some 15 years worth of experience designing, manufacturing and selling in the electric vehicle market. They also hold the EV land speed record – 240.320mph with the Venturi VBB3. It therefore stands to reason that they have likely built one of the most competitive electric powertrains out there. However of the two teams it is Dragon Racing who are – as their name won’t let you forget – those with the racing experience. And whilst the hardware the two teams share is the same, the software coding, race strategy, pit stop proficiency etc… is all down to the individual team personnel knowing how to extract the best out of the car. In that regard – just as last year – Dragon Racing seem to be doing an exceptional job!…
The team and drivers managed their electric energy with great success during the Beijing ePrix to ensure they were devastatingly effective all race and perhaps if they had more clear track in front of them they might have been able to mix it with Renault e.Dams. They are of course the team that saw Dragon Racing finish the World Constructors Championship in second place last year and make no mistake about it, if the early signs are anything to go by, this team isn’t about to let them forget that!
Enter the Dragons.
by Tom Clancy @Retro_F1