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Innovation lighting-up F1 first night race

Valerio Maioli, his genius effectively addressing the challenges of a project that many considered tough to materialise: having a F1 Gran Prix under artificial lighting. It did materialise during the 2008 Singapore GP and it continues today.

Lights streamlining the track during the Singapore GP

Lights streamlining the track during the Singapore GP

The book features the roots of this story of passion, creativity and craft that are essential ingredients to many innovative projects.

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The Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) cooperating to the development of the book

In Donington, during the Formula e last round of the 2015/2016 presasons tests, we had the pleasure to begin dialoguing about the topics of book with Chris Aylett, Chief Excetutive of the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA).

Chris Aylett Chief Executive MIA

Chris Aylett Chief Executive MIA

MIA is an organisation that reaches globally the development of Motorsport linked to the automotive sector too. Not only MIA organises events, seminars and meetings relevant to unique perspectives concerning Motorsport development, it also develops and presents first hand top analytic research regarding many of the processes that are fundamental, and will be fundamental, for Motorsport sustainability on a global scale and for an active integrating involvement between Motorsport and Automotive. We thank Chris Aylett and his organisation for all of the assistance and cooperation are and will be offering; we will do our best to treasure it enriching the book contents, ideas and activities that will spring from it.

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Formula-e live from Donington. Ever stronger focus on performance, efficiency and entertainment followed from Mahindra and Mahindra Racing perspective.

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I am currently following (from the comfortable media center above the pit lane compared to the breeze that has been blowing outdoors since early morning) the last day of Formula-e preseason testing in Donington while working on interviews and research relevant to the book.

Going well beyond unique technological challenges 

Formula-e, since its very inception, has been driven by focus on sustainability, efficiency and innovation from several points of view that go even beyond the all fundamental technological one. The series has become an example of a new way (better say refreshed, back to original roots) to bring new energy to the relationship among fans and a global Motorsport championship.

As a global Motorsport series it is no doubt more reacheble then many other series and it makes easier for fans to interact with world popular drivers (even former F1 world champions as Jacques Villeneuve) among other competitive drivers that perceive racing here as a way to revamp their image or to develop their career. The process is helped by the fact that the series is becoming ever more competitive from a technical and sporting point of view and at the same time is rapidly multiplying its media global following. Besides watching that starting grid grandstand and quite full in a breeze morning is quite revealing.

Performance, efficiency, entertainment 

This championship is driven by a marked continuously renewed focus on factors that need to be integrated dynamically while the bar of relevant standards is being pushed higher and higher: efficiency, performance, entertainment.

This is all very attractive for the automotive and Motorsport community alike for several reasons, all of them having to do with the concept of sustainability through innovative synergic integrations of: visions, resources, cross pollination among various technological fields, talents (even race driving is very much redefined here) and know-how relevant to engineering as well as to anything that pertains to communication and media.

Automotive and Motorsport innovation interplay: Mahindra’s case

Mahindra from a corporate point of view is integrating forces with Mahindra Racing on these kind of dynamics with a technological interplay between automotive (Mahindra Reva is one of the very first electric car global projects that now is set in an evolutionary path related to higher performance) and track racing focusing more and more in rising the standards of being dependable, efficient (the Reva project has inspired much of the early and last season work on this) and reaching higher performance within the power cap set by the rules of the series.

On top of this there is the overall key focus on media and communication that Mahindra is generating in relation to projects that at the corporate level aim to define and implement an all new way of looking, creating and experiencing mobility (sustainability, efficiency and practicality are some key stepping stones on this); Mahindra Racing integrates powerfully all of this with a particular focus on developing an higher level of active involvement from fans that at present are for the great majority simply viewers. This goes also to the very roots of an extremely needed and deserved process of Indian Motorsport proper and more widespread development.

All of this will be further developed within the book integrating experiences of automotive and Motorsport projects and activities on a global scale that belong to history, present and future of automotive and Motorsport innovation interplay.

Interviewing Chetan Maini (Reva founder and R&D Head) in Bangalore last January (he is also an active board member and technology reference to Mahindra Racing), Dilbagh Gill (CEO & Team Principal Mahindra Racing) and B.Karthik (VP Corporate Brand Management Mahindra) here in Donington has been a quite unique and inspirational experience that will have a marked influence on the book.

No doubt India should be very proud of the multifaceted and far reaching developments that Mahindra has in place within its visionary path.

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Motorsport survival & growth: innovation on four factors bridging past and future

The link between innovation and Motorsport has been typically associated with the technological developments that increase performance and safety. Often, throughout recent decades, top level championships have been working as a challenging and effective research & development testing field. Several topics related to energy efficiency and preservation have been addressed by Motorsport regulatory technical boards, sometimes attracting interest and investments by major automotive manufacturers: at stake not only the technological research but also the brand association with a more sustainable way to conceive not simply automotive but mobility overall.

Two legends: Jim Clark and his Lotus 49 Cosworth DFV

Two legends: Jim Clark and his Lotus 49 Cosworth DFV

The Motorsport sustainability model: four factors

It is a matter of fact that Motorsport in order to survive and possibly grow (within an ever changing social, economic and market dynamics), cannot look at a sustainability operational model only from innovations linked to technology (no matter the amount of investments made by major manufactures), there are also at least three other factors that require dynamic innovations in order to make the overall Motorsport operational model sustainable: business, entertainment and passion for the sport (simply stated in alphabetical order).

While working on the research for a new book ( www.fasttrackinnovation.com ), I have been reading many first hand accounts related to the developments of Motorsport during the last 50 years and with colleagues I have integrated this with direct interviews to key players from the frontline or behind the scenes. So far we have been focusing mainly on the European context branching out into the USA and Indian ones. All of this has brought me to further appreciate the times (60s, 70s) when the equation of the four factor appeared to be set, in my opinion, along this order of relevance: passion for the sport, business, entertainment and technology.

Without passion no teams, manufacturers and drivers alike would have contributed to developing the popularity of the sport to date. Ferrari arose from a sense of passion rooted in the early car racing within Modena and its surrounding areas. Within Britain the Motorsport Valley arose from that passion that made overcome the necessity to squeeze at best all of the resources available to compete at the best possible levels. This passion fueled the rise of business and eventually an industry related to Motorsport.

Business in itself required to keep attracting attention and capitals from investors (back them mostly related to the automotive industry itself), hence the focus not only on technological advances (which pace of development was in relative terms much slower than the current one) but also on entertainment. Actually, it was important to manage at best this entertainment factor edging between gruesome danger claiming many lives (before Jackie Stewart’s determination to lobby to concretely improve safety) and glamour (back then Montecarlo was truly the top of game on this). Technology had no doubt its part but overall its influence was quite relative at a time when the influence of pure mechanics came ahead of rising aerodynamics concepts and the concept of applied electronics was still in its very early infancy to say the least.

Within all of this framework I found quite timely and intriguing a Motor Sport Magazine August 2015 Editorial by the title ‘From Jim Clark to Formula e’ . It articulates the link between two extremely different Motorsport eras, yet eras that once again necessarily have to deal with the same four factors: business, entertainment, passion and technology. Innovation is needed within the overall business operational model featuring these four building blocks. At stake is the overall sustainability of Motorsport itself.

Innovating the four factors to sustain survival and growth

To innovate it means to develop creative ideas (not necessarily original, they can also represent a marked evolution from previous ones or ideas integrally coming from different fields) into concrete results. As Formula E exemplifies, innovation in technology is already in action fueled by overall technology sustainability and branding focuses by major automotive players. In my opinion key innovations are needed within the dynamics of the other three components that are all integrated and interlocked depending on a single key element: reignite the passion for the sport by target audiences.

There are many social, demographic and economic factors that lowered and are lowering that passion; yet it all can be related to a lessening of the entertainment appeal. Racing can still be quite thrilling and exciting (without lowering the safety standards that arguably have at time reached levels of excesses at the expense of the sport), yet nowadays are passion for the sport and entertainment the actual factors of focus for a sustainable business development? Within these dynamics there is the need to outline a model visionary enough to overcome the short term focus creating an overall sustainability well beyond the short term. Innovations relevant to the factors that have the most leveraging power for sustainability need to be implemented.

The right kind of leveraging?

I came to similar conclusions last year when I had the privilege to participate and enjoy a program that allows fans to fuel that passion by lapping at Daytona tri-oval with a Nascar (after that I have come to appreciate that racing on ovals is not simply making boring rounds! At this link a report on the experience… http://riccardopaterni.lifeplan.it/always-new-fun-challenge-this-time-lapping-at-daytona-with-nascar-at-265-kmh/ ). This is an example of innovation in programs that keep enriching fans’ passion (the program I attended begun a few years back yet no doubt represented a targeted innovation with specific industrial and commercial investments).

In addition, still in Daytona, I saw with my own surprised eyes the focus on making it easier for fans to access track entertainment: high-tech elevators being built to reach the top of the imposing world famous checkered grandstands: the show easy to reach (and at alluring prices). It does not matter if many of us observe that within the USA racing scene technological innovation is basically not existent from our European perspective. Passion for the sport is fuelled as well as entertainment and this makes it more concrete and reachable to develop a business model that, among unavoidable up and downs, keeps Motorsport as a sport and an industry in continuos development in the USA.

Is this the right kind of leveraging power to be utilized also in Europe? The debate is no doubt wide ranging, yet resolutive action overrides many of the sterile debates we are often so effective in articulating.

( this article has been published also on Linkedin )

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Meeting and interview at Costruzioni Novicrom

We have had a meeting with the owners of Costruzioni Novicrom a manufacturer of top level mechanical components for the automotive and aeronautical industry for almost 70 years.

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It is a fascinating story of a company that has sustained the growth and success of clients such as Ferrari and Maserati (both in the automotive and Motorsport field) as well as companies operating in the aeronautics sector as Augusta.

novicrom

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Meeting and Interviews at Rondine Motor

Interviews with Filippo and Marco Nuccitelli founders of  Rondine Motor  a company that has been developing several kinds of innovative projects for many years and that has brought to new life this historic Italin brand dating back to 1925.

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Nowadays the key focus of the company is on unique electric motorbikes characterised by advanced innovative technical solutions and models suitable for different use featuring a clear stylish Italian identity. The conversation with these two brothers ever creative and full of fresh ideas is on going.

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Meetings and Interviews in Dallara

We have had the pleasure and privilege to be be kindly hosted by Dr.Ing.Dallara (founder of the company) to talk about the topics of the book and he opened the conversations to interviews with Dr.Ing.Pontremoli (CEO) and Dr.Ing.Toso (Head of R&D and US Racing Business Leader).

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The conversation continues with a company that has received already international awards and recognition on innovation regarding not only technical aspects but also organisational and educational ones.

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The educational field relates to innovative programs that integrate technical developments of the company to the activities of educational institutions located both in Italy and the USA where Dallara has the global and American headquarters. The conversation is on-going.

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Meeting and Interview with Chetan Maini (CEO & Founder Mahindra Rewa)

We have meet at the Mahindra Reva headquarters close to Bangalore (India) the CEO & Founder Chetan Maini. He has an impressive track record as innovator (well recognised in USA, Europe and India), related to one of the very first electric cars he has conceived, the Reva. An electric car that still nowadays features unique innovative solutions that go well beyond the technical ones,  involving marketing, sales and customer service.

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The manufacturing plant that we have visited features unique sustainability structural innovations as well with an integrated green plant.

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Chetan Maini is also directly involved as Director to the development of the Mahindra Racing Formula E project that for the 2nd championship of the series (2015 – 2016) will feature an engine with Mahindra Reva very own technology.

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The conversation is on-going on many perspectives and we plan to spend time with the Mahindra Racing team while in action on track.

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Interview with Professor Massimo Guiggiani (Applied Mechanics University of Pisa)

In depth interview with Professor Guiggiani relevant to several of his studies and collaboration experiences with automotive and motorsport manufactures. We have talked about breakthrough research he has made featured in his most recent book “The Science of Vehicle Dynamics” as well as the University of Pisa E-team, Formula SAE, Formula Student team of which he is faculty advisor since 2008.

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