“Formula E is a great testbed to showcase EV technology”
A motorsport enthusiast since childhood, Jessica Borrell’s dream came true when she was offered a job in the press office after a three-month internship with Formula E. Now on her fourth E-Prix tour, she tells us about its growth and reach, the highlights, and why sustainability affects everyone.
Jessica, tell us how you came to join the Formula E crew?
Jessica Borrell: When I graduated from University, I saw that Formula E was looking for interns. I went for it and got a three-month internship. I loved it so much that after the internship I just kept pestering and pestering them to keep me on. And they agreed, which has been the best thing ever. Since then, I have dealt with media accreditation, and my latest role is press officer where I am the main point of contact for journalists, teams and drivers.
How has Formula E changed since you joined in 2015?
Everything has changed since I started in season two. Back then, we were around 70 staff and we all knew each other so well. It had a village feel about it. We all worked – and still are working - so hard. Now in season five, there are 11 teams and nine manufacturers. It has grown so much, and everything has changed.
Can you quantify the growth in terms of numbers of journalists that attend the races?
In season two, you could probably expect a media attendance of around a hundred journalists. In season five, even during testing, we have 150 attending press representatives. Then we go to races in Mexico or Hong Kong and we have a media centre of 500 journalists. The growth you can’t quantify – at every race, we just keep growing.
How do you make Formula E more approachable for the general public?
Formula E is all about access. It is not elitist in any shape or form. It helps that we have 22 very talented and hard-working drivers with great teams backing them. Both journalists and fans can get closer than ever to motorsport. As technology is changing so fast, people no longer want to watch sport on TV - they want to watch it on their phones. They also want to engage with the drivers in real time. Formula E understands this and has jumped on top of this.
How different are the races from city to city?
When you go to South America, it is about the fans – they are avid sport fans and we never experienced an empty race. When you go to Europe, it is about racing history and heritage. Every city hosts the E-Prix for different reasons. For example, in Paris and Rome, e-mobility is the main reason why we race there, and why we will stay there.
What is your personal favourite race?
Hong Kong – as it is everything that Formula E should be about. It is in the heart of the city. The backdrop is immense, and the fans love tech. In China, Hong Kong is probably the leading market of electric vehicles (EV). The fans know exactly what we are talking about, and they also love the manufacturers.
In Formula E, how important are non-traditional motorsport topics such as technology, sustainability or mobility?
Formula E is based on three pillars: sustainability, technology and racing in the hearts of the cities. I know that some people say that the cars are very quiet and that could be boring. But it is not! The reason why we get to race in the middle of the cities is because we don’t have noise pollution.
We also get a lot of media interest from technology, sustainability and lifestyle outlets that usually wouldn’t cover motorsport. Especially, the sustainability media loves us because we are not trying to greenwash them. We are being very honest that we are promoting EV technology, and Formula E is a great sustainability testbed to show that.
What role does sustainability play in your own life and why do you feel passionate the topic?
As soon as I understood how it affects my everyday life, I became a massive sustainability follower. It makes perfect sense. There are very small changes you have to make, but they make a big difference globally. Every city we go to, we raise the points that are important to this city. These may look like simple changes, but we believe that in ten years, these cities will not have those problems anymore. When you see it first hand, you can’t ignore that climate change is happening.
Why is working at Formula E a dream come true for you?
You can take the tube, you can get on your bike, and you can just hop off five minutes down the line and watch a Formula E race in middle of your city. I think that is so good. That’s why I am a big advocate for Formula E, and I always will be. You cannot not be a fan of it, if it is promoting things like sustainability and accessibility.
Video production: Scott McNamara, Daniel Dearing
Formula E people
Every racing driver will tell you that it takes an entire team to make sure he and his car are ready to hit the track on race day. The same is true of Formula E. We take you behind the scenes to meet the engineers, mechanics, team managers, logistics coordinators, track engineers, PR managers – and many more – who make it possible to race in over ten city circuits each season.