What a weekend!
Formula E is by far my favourite motorsport, and I’ve been excited for the Paris ePrix ever since I decided I was going. I knew it would top WEC last weekend, especially because I was working this weekend, but I never realised just how much better it was going to be.
After the rather stressful chaos of getting to Paris – never get the overnight coach to Paris – I arrived at about half six in the morning French time.
The accreditation centre didn’t open until eight… Well, better early than late.
Though I was working for both Inside Line Media and e-racing.net this weekend, I was accredited through ILM, which meant they got first refusal on everything I did this weekend.
The first thing on my to-do list was to wonder up and down the pit lane, before heading to the media centre for the first press conference of the weekend.
I’d prepared a few questions for the press conference, but what I really wanted to ask about was the protests over Battersea Park. After a few questions about Paris, I got to ask my question, and got a good answer from Alejandro Agag on the situation in London.
Next was the driver press conference, which was a lot busier than the first press conference, and then it was time for the press pen.
This year has been full of firsts for me, and this was my first press pen. It was definitely a case of elbows out, battling to get whoever you could grab a minute or so with. I managed to get four interviews out of the session, two for each website, so I’d consider that a success for my first session.
After lunch it was time to head over to Mahindra again. Naomi Panter, Mahindra’s PR and Communications Manager, very kindly let me shadow her for the second part of the day. It was interesting to see how an expert organises the chaos and I picked up a couple of tips whilst I was there.
I’ve recapped my entire day with Mahindra here for Inside Line Media, and that’s definitely worth a read.
The first job to do was the track walk, in which I was left in charge of the team mascot, Mahindra bear. I don’t think I covered quite how important looking after Mahindra bear was to me, especially as my friend has been going on and on about him for a while now.
One of the things that hit me in Paris is that this was as much of a street circuit as you could get. The streets were still in use on the Friday morning. And here we were, wondering around, looking at kerbs that were still being painted and discussing where the apex would be (or the engineers and drivers were, whilst I was trying to work out a good spot to take pictures with Mahindra bear…)
Later on, I got to watch Senna and Heidfeld practice the car swaps, which is definitely my favourite part of the race. Watching it up close only made it more exciting. And yes, lots of photos were taken.
Between sessions, I’d managed to write up some of the interviews I’d gotten that morning, and when I got back to the hotel it was time to finish that up and send them to the right people. Then, it was time for a well deserved sleep.
Saturday started at six o’clock as I headed off to the track from the hotel, having figured out how to get from the hotel to the metro station the day before (probably the hardest part of the day).
Because the streets were still open Friday morning, there was no shake down, which meant the Friday practice session was the driver’s first taste of the track. And I got to watch it from the back of the Mahindra garage.
It was interesting to see the team in action. I’ve probably used the phrase organised chaos before, but that’s exactly what it is. Everyone has their job and knows exactly how to do it, and they just do it. I kept one eye on the team as I watched the screens at the back of the garage with Naomi.
The session wasn’t bad for the team, making them hopeful for the rest of the day. I said goodbye to Mahindra and headed back over to the media centre, where I was live tweeting the next two sessions.
As always, live tweeting is my favourite thing, but doing it from the track was a little different, as there was no commentary to go by and the screens a little further away than I’m used to. Nevertheless, I managed to do it quite well, I think.
I learned my lesson this weekend. Don’t watch the race from the track if you’re covering it.
Watching the race from the track, you get the atmosphere, the buzz, and the excitement. What you don’t get is very good coverage. We could see where people were as they came across the race, got a good look at how the track was breaking apart lap after lap, and saw Lucas Di Grassi nearly run into the safety car, but it was a bit of a mystery what happened when the cars left our view.
Thankfully, I was able to catch up in what happened when I rushed back over to the media centre for the post race press conference and the press pen.
I managed to grab a few more interviews here, and listened in on a couple of others. Whilst I’m obviously at the race to do the job, I think the best way for me to get better is to see how more experienced journalists worked. If I could do that at the same time as catching a couple of interviews, why not?
As I was doing it, there were about a million things to think about.
Firstly, you have to listen to the answers to your questions. First off because they might say something you don’t understand and you need to dig deeper into that and secondly because if they already answer your next question or make it redundant in some other way, you’re going to look pretty stupid.
Then, of course, you have to have your next question prepared.
And, finally, I was keeping a track of who talked lots and who was quite short in their answers. Whilst nobody likes a waffler, it’s nice to have an abundance of speech to pull quotes out of, so I want to know who does what. Of course, what they say is more important and I’d choose quality over quantity any day, but it’s definitely something to think about.
Once those interviews were all typed up and sent to the relevant people, it was time for some more well earned sleep before I travelled home on the Sunday.
Sunday morning, I woke earlier than expected (clearly I’d gotten into a habit), which meant I had just enough time to write up my day with Mahindra for ILM, before setting off on the long journey home.