Envision Virgin Racing Formula E

“If We Are To Inspire Others We Should Be Operating At The Highest Level Possible, Otherwise We Won’t Be Credible”

January 19, 2021

Carbon neutral Formula E team, Envision Virgin Racing was announced as an Official Partner of the UK Government’s climate change campaign ahead of COP26 Summit this November.

As well as being certified carbon neutral, Envision Virgin Racing is also the first motorsport team to sign the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change and are one of just a handful of teams to have achieved the FIA’s [governing sporting body] three-star environmental accreditation.

iSportConnect spoke with Sylvain Filippi, Future Mobility Expert and Formula E Team Managing Director to know more.

 How is the team tackling COVID19 challenges?

We have very strong procedures and protocols that allow us to travel in a ‘Covid Bubble’. The whole paddock (drivers and staff) are tested prior to arriving at the paddock and only people who have tested negative can enter the paddock again.

It is a very good system and hopefully, this year we will be able to resume racing in Saudi Arabia in February. With vaccine things are expected to be better but regardless, the procedures we follow are quite safe. From the team side, we have been working from home for almost a year now and have some good work on the marketing and partnership side.

Have commercial dynamics changed?

Yes and No.

During difficult times, one can either wind down and wait for the storm to pass or just keep walking. We took a very different approach and actually, have worked harder than any other year to compensate for no activity on the track side. We have come up with new marketing initiatives like doing digital events, conferences which wouldn’t have been the case if we were racing.

However, since there were no races, we lost out on the media value and broadcaster value last year and hopefully, this year we will have a strong calendar with lot of races and will travel around the world and have different fan engagement activities.

Tell us about the recent COP26 partnership and the strategy behind it. What do you aim to achieve out of the same?

We partnered with the COP26 Together for Our Planet campaign to encourage global action against climate change. COP26 is doing what we do best and our interests are perfectly aligned which is to come up with solutions to fight climate change.  

We know transport and mobility is a key part of carbon emission so if we can accelerate adoption of electric cars then we can make a significant difference. Our humble contribution is to use the power of Formula E as a sport to engage with lot of people and make them care about something.

How difficult it is to be a carbon neutral team and what are the hurdles?

It is difficult but we are hoping that one day everyone else will join us as well. We are more than just a race team. For us it is about leading by example and if we are to inspire others, we should be operating at the highest level possible otherwise we won’t be credible. Being carbon neutral is a whole process and we have different agencies to ensure everything functions properly. The first thing is to identify where you are emitting carbon and the process takes a year.

Tell us what are the innovative technologies you are integrating?

To help fight climate change, we need to look from all angles. Everyone knows that electric cars do much better and use renewable energy. What many are doing now is using non-renewable energy and burning fossil fuels to charge their cars.

We want to make people want to drive electric cars. We want to portray powerful cars which are light and efficient and the more innovative technologies we use, the more people want to buy the cars. And hopefully, in 9 years time when we hear about commercial engines being banned in the UK, it will be no issue as electric cars would be great.

We are seeing the impact of this with global EV sales rising from 330,000 from when the championship first began to 2.17million in 2019. Even during the bleakest of economic times, sales rose 185% last year in the UK alone and EVs have outsold petrol and diesel cars in Norway, for example, showing that EVs are about to become mainstream and play a key role in reducing carbon emissions.

Envision Virgin Racing Formula E