Event: London race weekend
Series: FIA Formula E
Location: Battersea Park, London, UK
Date: 2, 3 July 2016
One of the most fascinating visual aspects of Formula E, with its calendar chock full of street races, is the juxtaposition of the modern steel-and-concrete crash barriers with the surrounding city architecture. It’s perhaps been most striking in Paris, where the grand ornate buildings and chic pavement cafes nestled up against the catch fencing. Then again, the contrast was marked in Punta del Este, too, with the beach just the other side of a pavement from the garages, as it was in Berlin, where this year the track had to make its way around a fountain. (Yes, it was a pretty large fountain.)
But London tops them all. Racing was brought to the city’s Battersea Park, right on the banks of the River Thames and in the shadow of the towers of the area’s famous power station (now being converted into luxury apartments). The Battersea track is an outstanding example of engineering innovation, with all the infrastructure required being sited on existing hard standing and the park’s internal ring road to avoid any damage to the park’s precious foliage.
It makes for a visual feast quite unlike anything else in racing: 18 single-seater racing cars hurtling along under a dense canopy of trees, darting in and out of the sunshine (and rain), with a very English pub on one corner and local dog walkers and joggers just the other side of the security fencing.
The venue hosted Formula E’s only double-header weekend in both season one and two, with the usual Saturday race day being twinned on Sunday, too. Renault e.dams driver Nico Prost won both 2016 events (his only victories of the season), while team mate Sebastien Buemi took part in a bizarre duel with championship rival Lucas di Grassi on Sunday after a collision on the first lap meant neither would be able to finish the race. Instead, the championship was won by the points awarded for fastest lap, with Buemi taking the points and the title.
It was a thrilling end to a season which had been fought hard and (mostly) fairly by all. There aren’t many other similar top level sports where you have no idea who is going to win the title until the very last race; Formula E has managed that in both its first two seasons.
The Spacesuit team fielded five snappers for the London extravaganza. Among our clients was DS Virgin Racing, for whom London was a home race. That meant a visit by Sir Richard Branson, which gave us a very busy shoot schedule for his trip, including a “selfie” in the garage with the team and racing drivers!
We followed our benchmark-setting programme: on Thursday, we covered the garage and pit lane activity; on Friday, we covered track walks, driver portraits, press conferences and shakedown; and over Saturday and Sunday we captured all track sessions, as well as driver autograph signings, qualifying lotteries and podium ceremonies. There were various other events to look after, including filming four videos for TE Connectivity, shooting the DS Virgin Racing drivers in speedboats on the Thames and covering the sport’s end of season prize giving ceremony at the British Museum.
Headed up by Shiv Gohil, Dan Bathie and Nat Twiss took on trackside duties for teams, sponsors and publications, while Marta Rovatti Studihrad and Lou Johnson looked after off-track entertainment,fan zone activities and VIP hospitality areas for Formula E.
We were also commissioned by the publisher of Audi’s global customer magazine to capture ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport driver Lucas di Grasi in action. With a championship slipping away from him (and ultimately lost on the last day), however, Lucas was not in the mood to site for portraits; luckily, Shiv has built up a strong relationship with Lucas over the past two years, including working for him personally at Le Mans in 2015; this meant we could still capture the shots we needed to for the magazine.
You can see a small selection of the thousands of images we captured over the weekend here; our images are available for licensing for editorial and commercial use. Just send us a query should you like to know more.
We can’t wait for season three!