Q&A: Sam J. Pic­cione III, Chief Rev­enue Of­fi­cer, For­mula E

Motor (Australia) - - THREE-WAY TEST -

Q: WHO ARE the driv­ing forces be­hind For­mula E?

A: Ale­jan­dro Agag is the leader, the vi­sion­ary, the man who sees round cor­ners. Jean Todt is the con­nec­tion to FIA. And Lib­erty Me­dia of Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel fame is the main share­holder.

Q: How does the con­cept of For­mula E dif­fer from other race for­mats around the world?

A: We are a global motorsport en­ter­tain­ment plat­form. We pro­vide ex­cite­ment through en­vi­ron­ment-friendly and ex­cit­ing mo­tor rac­ing. To­day, BEVs are still a rare sight. But tomorrow, BEVs will be main­stream, es­pe­cially in ur­ban ar­eas. We are early adopters of a smogfree fu­ture through elec­tro-mo­bil­ity.

Q: Where do the funds come from?

A: We’re in the process of talk­ing to po­ten­tial part­ners who would run geo­graph­i­cal seg­ments or even spon­sor the cup. But it must be the right part­ner, like a con­sumer elec­tronic brand or a for­ward-think­ing tech brand. For ob­vi­ous rea­sons, we won't al­low an OEM to spon­sor the cup.

Q: Can you give us some num­bers?

A: Each race has a ti­tle spon­sor who must pay be­tween $500,000 and $3m. Global spon­sor­ship should yield up to $10m. But we never say no to an of­fer – we make it hap­pen.

Q: Have you got more ideas like FanBoost up your sleeve?

A: Ab­so­lutely. It all got started with the eVil­lage as the crowd’s favourite haunt, the eJ play­ing records and the rob­o­race grab­bing at­ten­tion. The next big thing is e-sports gam­ing. Within the so­cial me­dia frame­work, you can watch or par­tic­i­pate even when you are phys­i­cally not there. In the sim­u­la­tor chal­lenge, the viewer com­petes against the driver of choice. There is a whole new vir­tual world out there wait­ing to un­fold.

Q: What do you ex­pect will hap­pen when the new rules come into ef­fect?

A: More tech­ni­cal free­dom is go­ing to at­tract more play­ers. More play­ers means more races, more races means more view­ers, more cov­er­age, more busi­ness. Be­lieve me – this thing has got huge po­ten­tial.

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