Complying, liaising, validating, and directing. These are just a few of the responsibilities and tasks Claudia Denni, a Senior Sporting Manager at the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, does to guarantee that all racing weekends are performed within agreed-upon parameters and delivered to the highest quality.
Females in Motorsport met with her prior to the start of Season 9 to talk about her career, what it takes to be successful in her position, and what her advice is for those who wish to follow in her footsteps.
Three new locations on the schedule, record-breaking worldwide TV audiences for the second season in a row, and the Gen3 - the fastest, lightest, most powerful, and most efficient electric race car ever created - scheduled to premiere next January…
Claudia Denni is a significant cog in the wheel in the remarkable journey of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship to Season 9, having been in her role for five years but present in the championship since day one.
"My studies were mainly linguistic," she tells Females in Motorsport. "I have a degree in Oriental Languages with a focus in Chinese. The enthusiasm for speed and engines was passed down to me by my family and has always been there.
"I was fortunate to meet Enzo Coloni, a renowned personality in Italian motorsport, who took me under his wing. I began supporting the event side for the Euro Series 3000, which ultimately became Auto GP. In small championships like these, you have the opportunity to learn what it means to be versatile."
Claudia emphasises how it was only four people running a full championship that ultimately expanded into a world series by supporting the World Touring Car Championship.
"We were in charge of the grid, team information, the podium, the autograph session, the financial aspect, and the social networks that were just getting started," she says. "From interacting with the teams and taking on all the difficulties, I learned a lot. We were just two girls in the paddock back then, so it's amazing to see how things have changed.”
Claudia later joined the Trulli Formula E Team during the inaugural year of the electric racing championship.
"I've been there since the first race in Beijing, when each driver had two cars, so there were four in the garage,” she says. “The technological evolution that we’ve witnessed throughout the years has been extraordinary. This year will then be a season full of surprises: three new cities will host us, which is truly exciting.
"I didn't complete the season because, given my language skills, I got a chance with Lamborghini to follow the Asian Super Trofeo. Unfortunately, the project didn't go ahead, and I found myself on a sabbatical from motorsports."
Then, a simple click on LinkedIn changed everything again.
"I saw an open vacancy at Formula E and applied,” she says. “They were eager to interview me right away, and I have been with the company for five years.”
Claudia started in the Event Management department but later had the opportunity to return to her original background.
"I was offered a position in the sporting division, and I eventually rose to the post of Senior Sporting Manager,” she says. “Beginning next season, I’ll be leading the event's sporting operations."
Claudia's achievement recognises the outstanding work she has done throughout the years and also shows how language skills in motorsport can be pivotal.
"I’m in charge of the sporting event preparation, which means ensuring that Formula E, the ASN (National Automobile Club or other national body recognised by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile or the CIK-FIA as the sole holder of sporting power in a country), and the FIA are all on the same page in the event's development," she says.
"In order to ensure the event's success, we follow all FIA guidelines and implement all operational requirements. In terms of safety, we ensure that vehicle recovery and medical procedures are in place, that marshals have completed the courses, and that they’re suitably dressed to handle electric vehicles."
Claudia may not be seen on the track during races, but her voice can be heard everywhere.
"I'm in Race Control during the event,” she says. “We assist the FIA and the Race Director - in the event of an accident by inspecting the barriers and advising the necessary teams for their repair and safety. In that circumstance, we must react as rapidly as possible to maintain the race schedule.
“Then, I'm in charge of the grid. I own the event's programme, and thus I’m the one informing everyone when the start is approaching. I’m like a movie director. It's the same with the podium; I'm the last person to validate any procedures put in place by the relevant departments.”
From timetable drafting to operational liaison, and from grid to podium procedures, there are no easy tasks in Claudia's daily responsibilities.
“I’m very content with what I have accomplished so far. Of course, it's not simple; there are numerous hurdles, but that's what pushes you forward."
At the office or behind the closed doors of Race Control “ambition is a crucial skill”. It's important to be able to push oneself to the limit and see how far you can go. Claudia says it’s also about finding a healthy balance because “it's not great to never be satisfied”.
"The linguistic aspect is equally essential; we interact with many cultures, and speak multiple languages,” she says. “It's crucial to maintain an open mind and have the ability to listen to and comprehend the perspectives of others."
When thinking about the future, Claudia sees herself playing a bigger role in promoting and encouraging diversity in the industry.
“Walking down the pitlane and seeing so many women from all backgrounds working with me is one of the best things about Formula E,” she says.
“With initiatives like FIA Girls on Track, we’re opening the doors to many more.
“I'd also like to return to Italy one day. I adore my country, yet I still feel happy in England on a professional level. There’s more meritocracy when it comes to opportunities for success.”
Claudia advises all young women who desire to follow in her footsteps to be curious and contact the various circuits or local sports authorities.
“Coming to your city and seeing it transformed is an experience that only Formula E can provide,” she says. “The event is more than just a sporting event. It's a celebration, it's about bringing the community together while embracing sustainability and having a positive effect on the world of tomorrow.
“When a Formula E event takes place, we perform genuine land reclamation work. We aim to create a legacy with the territory. And seeing my hometown, Rome, all decked out for this occasion made me very proud.”
Photos are courtesy of Claudia Denni.
The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship is set to start in Mexico City on 14 January 2023.