9/8/2020

"That was a special challenge."

In the second part of the big interview Malte Huneke talks about the unique Formula E finale in Berlin.

The season finale in Berlin was special this year – what was the difference compared with previous races?

Malte Huneke: The biggest difference for us was the incredibly short sequence of races. But that also made it really interesting. Especially if you drive twice on the same layout. Sometimes you draw conclusions after a race and say: “Okay, we made a mistake.We'll do better next time”. But you rarely have the chance to prove this so quickly afterwards on the same track and see whether a specific issue actually was the reason for the poor performance. Berlin was a very good opportunity to learn. The insights were fresh, and the work continued straight away. We could do our analyses, draw conclusions and implement improvements directly. It was truly unique.

That’s right. How did you prepare for the finale and the new challenge? Did you do something different than normal?

Malte Huneke: Actually, the preparation work was similar for the whole team to what it normally is. Only with the big difference that we had to prepare for three layouts simultaneously. That is why we spent so much time in the simulator. And of course, I am there with them for this. This way, I can also gear up for the event and familiarise myself with the challenges. I examine how we have prepared for the individual layouts in terms of the vehicle and software set-up. So, it always gets me into racing mode. But in the end, it was no different from other events. 

As you have just mentioned: what are your specific tasks as Technical Director before, during and after – and between – the races?

Malte Huneke: During the race, the most important thing is that I always keep watch over the technical, software and set-up aspects. I have to ensure that all experts are involved in evaluating and drawing conclusions. That we develop as a team as efficiently as possible. I always have to be available, check if we have everything on the screen or I have to be ready to act as a sparring partner for ideas. Of course, during the race a lot is in the hands of the race and performance engineers. What I also do is watch the race and process information from the home team. Here, I serve as an interface to the home team, pass on information and mainly communicate with them during the race. Otherwise, it is a game between the race engineer and their driver.

But when things are going perfectly, I don't have to say anything and I don't intervene. Then I'm just there.

Do you have opportunities to actively intervene during a race?

Malte Huneke: Yes, I do. But ideally, I try not to. For example, I can tell the race engineer: “Look, now would be a good time to go in Attack Mode”. But of course, they always know that before I tell them. But if I see that there are gaps and I notice that the situation is not completely under observation, then I can pass on this information, thereby intervening in the race. But when things are going perfectly, I don't have to say anything and I don't intervene. Then I'm just there (laughs).

Nine days, six races, three tracks: What role did the variations in the track layout play?

Malte Huneke: That is a good question! These have had a major impact on the preparatory work. Normally, we only have one layout to prepare, this time we had three – that was a special challenge. We had to keep the key points of each layout in mind. And of course, the boundary condition on every special layout: what are the connections between energy and lap time and all these kinds of things. Berlin has made this special.

What conclusion have you drawn after your first season?

Malte Huneke: Overall, I am happy that the performance is basically there, and that we can draw on it. And I am happy that we improved during the season. You always have to be mostcritical of this in a rookie season. We have always managed to improve in the areas that we wanted to – such as race performance. Actually, the most important thing for me is that we were able to develop as a team throughout the ongoing competition. Nevertheless, we of course still have a lot of work to do.

What happens next for the team after the final in Berlin? What do you do personally and what is the plan for the team?

Malte Huneke: Testing will continue relatively soon. Which means that the preparations for season seven are already in full swing. As I mentioned before, we already had test days. So,this kind of work isn't slowing down. I have a child in school and another one in kindergarten, so I’ll be going to Berlin for my summer holiday (laughs).

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