Formula E Notes: Jean Todt says F-E is more “a stand-alone series” than ladder series

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With Formula E’s debut coming next weekend in Beijing, FIA president Jean Todt has shared some of his thoughts on the global, all-electric racing series – including his belief that F-E stands apart on its own rather than as a stepping stone to other leagues.

“It could be said that F-E is more a stand-alone series rather than a new thread included in the single-seater ladder,” he says to the F-E website. “However, it still does open career pathways for drivers with various backgrounds and has already attracted both young talents and experienced racers.

“For me, it’s a city, single-seater category, and I’m keen to keep it on a track of its own. And I think the interest in this challenge is because it’s like a circus. You have everything take place in 24 hours.

“The day before, it’s just a normal city, then everything happens for the organization of the race and then 24 hours later, it’s just a memory until next year.”

In the interview, Todt also touches upon the inspiration behind F-E, where F-E stands to be down the road, and whether F-E technology will eventually emerge in other FIA championships – noting on that subject that “you always learn from one championship to another one.”

“For example, what generates a lot of cost is aerodynamic development – and in Formula E, it’s quite limited, which I think is a good thing because sometimes, you see how complicated aerodynamics are on a car,” Todt said.

“You take Formula 1 now with all the little winglets that require so much wind tunnel testing. So, I would say let’s try to develop as much that can be transferred to a city car.”

Todt also defended the series’ FanBoost, which enables fans to vote online for their favorite drivers in hopes that they will receive an additional, five-second power boost (150kw to 180kw) during the races.

Some observers believe the FanBoost goes too far in manipulating a race’s natural outcome. But Todt called the FanBoost a “friendly, fresh initiative” that he doesn’t believe will “damage the final result.”

Meanwhile, back on the grid, one IndyCar veteran has apparently replaced another at Dragon Racing for the Sept. 13 season opener in Beijing.

Instead of Mike Conway driving the team’s second car, it will be Oriol Servia in that seat and working with Dragon full-timer Jerome d’Ambrosio. No official reason is listed for Dragon’s Beijing switch.

Conway does have other commitments and is racing for Toyota in the World Endurance Championship this month at Austin. However, that race is occurring on the weekend after Beijing.

Marvin Musquin’s Indy win may have come too late

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Marvin Musquin answered one question at Indianapolis last week, but the biggest one may well plague him for the next six weeks.

Musquin has won a battle, but can he win the war?

After standing on the podium in eight of the first 10 races, Musquin finally showed the field he was capable of winning in Indy when he grabbed the holeshot and led every lap on the way to Victory Lane. He was never seriously challenged and it was the Musquin that Supercross fans expected to see all season.

It was a long time coming. Musquin must have felt like victory was just around the corner after finishing second in the overall standings in Anaheim II’s Triple Crown race. He was third in the first Main that night and second in the last two Mains.

As it turned out, that single race defined his season until last week. Musquin stood on the podium all night, but he finished two spots behind Cooper Webb in the first Main and was one spot back in the second. It was only as time ran out that he was able to beat Webb by a single spot in the third Main. If Musquin had won either of the first two Mains, he would have had the overall victory – denying Webb his first career win in the process.

Webb’s Anaheim win revitalized the rider and gave him the confidence to rattle off four more wins in the next seven races.

Meanwhile, Musquin scored podium finishes in the next seven races, making him almost perfect. In another season, a record like that would have been enough to give him a comfortable points lead. In 2019, he sit 14 markers out of first, which is the points’ equivalent of the difference between first and 11th in one race. In other words, Webb cannot lose the points lead at Seattle unless he finishes outside the top 10 while his teammate wins.

Looking at the numbers another way the scenario is not quite as hopeless. Musquin needs to shave only 2.3 points off Webb’s lead each week to win the championship. Three points separate first and second. Five points differentiates first from third, which is where Webb finished in Indianapolis. Webb is vulnerable as his 10th-place finish at Glendale and an eighth at San Diego attest.

Those bobbles came early and Webb seems to have forgotten how to make a mistake.

A third-place is Webb’s worst finish in the last six weeks and since Anaheim II when Musquin started his impressive string of podium finishes, Webb has recorded an average finish of 2.2. That came with a worst finish of eighth on an extremely muddy and heavy track in San Diego. Musquin has a worst finish of only sixth, but his average of 2.8 still lags behind Webb.

Worse still, since Anaheim II Musquin has finished behind Webb in every race except for the outlier of San Diego.

It is no longer a question of keeping pressure on Webb. Musquin cannot expect his teammate to make a mistake; he has to find a way to pass him on the track. If Webb adds only two points to his lead at Seattle, Musquin’s fate would no longer be in his hands. He would need to gain 3.2 points per race. With that scenario, Webb could finish one spot behind Musquin every week and still win the championship.