The 2023 schedule for Formula E, the FIA’s all-electric racing championship, kicks off in Mexico on 14 January and this year’s calendar is busier than ever, with Hyderabad in India, Cape Town in South Africa and Sao Paulo in Brazil announced as new venues for season 9. This season also sees the third iteration of race cars, hailed the world’s fastest, lightest and most efficient single seater electric race car.
Travel Places Events Operations Lead, Tom Bonney, recently returned from pre-season testing in Valencia with Events Consultant, Lewis Green, where they managed travel and accommodation for around 178 people, on behalf of racing teams and media clients including AMW, McLaren Electric Racing, as well as Little Dot Studios and Funny Hands Media.
We caught up with Tom to find out how December’s pre-season testing went and whether they got to see the Gen3 cars in action.
How did you find managing travel and accommodation in Valencia?
Valencia is one of the easier locations to manage travel for our clients. There are normally plenty of flight options from the UK and other European destinations, and we have a great transfer supplier there that we use each year. Being a European city, many people speak English and there are some good hotel options in the city. Hotel availability can often be a struggle in Valencia. The majority of people want to be close to the Circuit Ricardo Tormo track so the hotels that are a short drive away get snapped up quickly. This means that some teams and groups need to stay nearer to the centre.
Were there any other challenges with this event?
The biggest challenge we faced was the sheer number of flight cancellations. Due to the snowstorm and freezing temperatures in the UK, a lot of flights out to Valencia were cancelled at the start of the week and everyone was struggling to fly out. Flight cancellations have a knock-on effect for us as they mean we have to rebook flights, cancel and/or change transfers and car hire, and update hotels with new arrival dates etc for guests. At one point, we were even looking into chartering a plane because there were no schedule flights available.
What were your responsibilities on site?
When we are on site at an event, our main responsibilities are to help manage logistics and ensure we are on hand to oversee transfers, meeting travellers on arrival, speaking directly with hotels, and supporting our clients face-to-face to manage any questions or issues around their travel or stay in the destination. Anyone working in travel and events knows that changes and problems are frequent and unavoidable. By being onsite, we can manage these more effectively and successfully; whether it is clients needing to make changes, a transfer not arriving on time, a problem with check in at a hotel, car hire issues, flight delays or cancellations.
Did you get to see the Gen3 cars on the track?
Whilst in Valencia, we based ourselves at the track in the Media Centre. This area overlooks the pit lane, so we were really lucky to have the opportunity to see the new Gen3 cars in action. It was great to see them on the track at the pre-season test and we look forward to seeing how they perform at the races this season.
Did you manage to get any downtime in the city? And if so, what did you do?
When we could, we’d try get out in the evening for dinner in the centre of Valencia. And once all of our clients left Valencia, we had a free afternoon so headed into the city and rented some electric scooters to explore what we could of the city. It was great fun and nice to see a bit of Valencia itself whilst there.
What is next on the Formula E calendar?
Returning from the Christmas break, it’s been full steam ahead for us in the Travel Places FE team. The first race in Mexico kicks off the season, and we have two members of our team on site in readiness for that. I go to Riyadh on the 21 January for the second race and we have other members of the team going to Hyderabad, India – one of the new race locations – for the third race in February.