Formula E: Prost concludes Donington test on top; Andretti set for powertrain revert


Times didn’t fall but rain did to conclude the latest FIA Formula E Championship two-day test at Donington Park, the final preseason test before the 2015-’16 championship opens in Beijing on October 17.

Nicolas Prost of Renault e.dams topped the timesheets at a 1:30.513, which was a little more than half a second off Lucas di Grassi’s 1:29.920 set last week.

Sebastien Buemi made it a 1-2 for Renault e.dams with a best time of 1:30.801, with Jerome d’Ambrosio (Dragon Racing) and Bruno Senna (Mahindra Racing) also in the 1:30 segment. Venturi’s Stephane Sarrazin completed the top five.

Notable beyond the top runners were the respective FIA Formula E testing debuts for ex-GP2 stars Robin Frijns and Stefano Coletti, the latter of whom is in the midst of a mid-week trip to Europe in-between the Pocono and Sonoma IndyCar races.

Frijns tested with Amlin Andretti Formula E, completing 21 laps, while Coletti banked 20 laps for Team Aguri.

Frijns and Simona de Silvestro’s 11 laps for Andretti – a combined 32 – were particular notable in what’s been a troubled preseason testing period.

Relief may come by way of a last-minute revert to its 2014-’15 powertrain, utilized in season one, to help increase reliability.

It sees the team shift from the ATEC-01, which uses a revised four-speed Hewland gearbox, back to the season one Spark SRT_01E, which has a McLaren electronics system and five-speed Hewland gearbox.

De Silvestro’s testing stint this summer has been her latest struggle in a career faced with obstacles, but where her resiliency often shines through.

NTT re-signs as IndyCar title sponsor in multiyear deal starting with the 2024 season

James Black/Penske Entertainment

The IndyCar Series has re-signed NTT as its title sponsor in a multiyear agreement starting in 2024.

NTT, a global information technology and communications company based in Japan, became the series’ title sponsor before the 2019 season after starting as a sponsor of the No. 10 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing.

NTT Data (a subsidiary of parent company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.) will remain the official technology partner of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy 500 and the NASCAR Brickyard weekend.

With the extension, an IndyCar spokesman said NTT would become the second-longest title sponsor in series history. The longest title sponsor was PPG from 1980-97 (under the CART sanction of the Champ Car Series).

NTT replaced Verizon, which was IndyCar’s title sponsor from 2014-18 after IZOD from 2010-13.

“NTT is an excellent partner across our enterprise with strong expertise and a deep commitment to our sport,” Penske Corp. chairman and IndyCar owner Roger Penske said in a release. “From Smart Venue technology at the Racing Capital of the World to the reimagined Series mobile application, NTT is transforming the fan experience in new and innovative ways. We look forward to a bright future together.”

NTT has used artificial intelligence-enabled optical detection technology at IMS to provide information to the track’s operations and security teams, helping improve fan traffic flow and safety, the track said.

“IndyCar is a great partner for NTT Data because of our shared commitment to driving innovation, increasing sustainability and delivering amazing experiences,” NTT Data CEO Kaz Nishihata said in a release. “We also appreciate how IndyCar is so diverse, with drivers from 15 different countries, and races that range from short ovals and superspeedways to road and street courses. It’s both an incredible sport and a wonderful example for our world.”

NTT also has been instrumental in helping redesign the IndyCar app and providing more race and driver data for use in NBC Sports’ broadcasts by utilizing 140 data points from every car in the field.

“NTT is fully invested in the development and growth of our sport and has already established a terrific track record in our industry with problem-solving capabilities and access to top talent and tools,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said.

Said NTT Data Services CEO Bob Pryor: “We’re thrilled to continue our collaborations that enhance and expand the fan experience for motorsports and serve as proof points for data analytics, AI, and other innovative digital technologies. For more than a century, this racing series has pioneered innovations making driving safer for everyone, and by continuing this relationship, we will accelerate the pace of innovations and new technologies, particularly related to sustainability that ultimately can benefit organizations, communities and individuals around the world.”

Starting as a Japanese telephone company, NTT grew into a $100 billion-plus tech services giant with U.S. operations based in Plano, Texas.