In the latest “Inside E” podcast, pit lane reporter Nicki Shields and commentator Jack Nicholls talk about their work on the official global TV broadcasting of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, about the fantastic togetherness of the teams and drivers at the racetrack, and their experience of Porsche entering the series a year ago.
They have experienced the Formula E success story up close and personal from day one. They were on board when the electric race series started its first season in 2014; Nicki Shields as pit lane reporter, Jack Nicholls as commentator. “It just worked out. I was in the right place at the right time,” said Jack Nicholls on how he became the voice of Formula E. His path into motorsport was mapped out. He was still a tot when his father took him to Formula 1 at Silverstone.
Later, he worked as a track marshal at smaller races in Great Britain. Then at some point he started to commentate on these races. Everyone in Nicki Shields’ family were passionate racing fans, starting with her grandfather, so it didn’t take her long to make up her mind when the Formula E offer fluttered through her letterbox: “There’s nothing better than combining your passion with work,” said the Brit. “You should do it whenever possible.”
Her days at the racetrack are long and intense. Nicki usually gets up at quarter to five in the morning, and yet she rarely makes it to the bus on time. “Jack is always on time, I’m always too late,” she laughed. Her workspace is the pit lane. While Jack is sitting in the commentator’s box, she is in the garages looking for stories to interest her viewers. Between sessions she gets drivers and team principals on the mike and sometimes celebs who swing by Formula E.
When she has wrapped up the final interviews after the race, Shields, in her own words, is ‘pretty shattered’. Jack might not be on the go as much as she is, but the sessions in the speaker’s booth are, he assures us, not always that comfortable: “All I want to say is Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, 30 degrees Celsius, 90 percent humidity – and then the air con went on strike.”
When Nicki Shields travelled to Beijing for the first race in 2014 nobody would have guessed that Formula E would be such a resounding success. “We arrived and weren’t even sure if the race would be taking take place,” she remembered. “Back then, if someone had said we would be where we are now – we wouldn’t have believed it.” What still impresses Jack Nicholls the most is the sense of community and camaraderie that prevail in Formula E.
“No matter what happens on the track, we eat together and drivers from different teams talk to each other and laugh together,” he said. “We’re all working towards the same goal. Everyone is there to win, but also to make Formula E even better.”
Porsche’s first season made a great impression on Nicholls. “The team’s learning curve was incredible,” he said. Porsche entering with its grand history in motorsport really enriched Formula E.” He is even more enthusiastic about André Lotterer’s pole position in Mexico City than his second place in the very first race in Diriyah. “You can end up on the podium by chance,” he said. “That doesn’t happen with pole.”