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Motorsport

Formula E Preview – The future is nearly here

7 Sep , 2014  

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Nicolas Prost – eDams-w1024

13th of September will mark the start of the world’s first fully electric racing series; Formula E.

Since being given the green light back in 2012, this new racing series has been slowly built from the ground up and still aims to achieve pure motor racing whilst being greener and sustainable to the environment.

Formula E will cover 9 countries starting in Beijing, China and will finish up in London next year in June.

Instead of Grand Prix the Formula E races will be called ePrix. Due to the zero emissions and low noise pollution, all races will take place on the streets of the host city.

Another unique factor to Formula E is that fans will be able to ‘boost’ their favourite driver which gives a two and a half second increase in battery power during a race. It’s a marketing attempt that has been faced with its fair share of criticism.

The FIA are aiming for the younger fans and embracing social media, something it’s bigger brother Formula 1 has failed to recognise and keep up with.

Jaime Alguersuari – Virgin Racing-w1024

Jaime Alguersuari – Virgin Racing

All 10 teams have a home at the new purpose-built HQ and garages at Donington Park. The Leicestershire circuit has also been the playground of all 5 pre-season testing sessions.

The teams involved with Formula E’s inaugural season are: Amlin Aguri, Andretti Autotsport, Audi Sport ABT, China Racing, Dragon Racing, E.Dams Renault, Mahindra Racing, Trulli GP, Venturi Grand Prix and Virgin Racing.

There’s a nice selection of former F1 drivers, two female drivers and even some IndyCar drivers.

Trulli, Buemi and di Grassi-w1024

Jarno Trulli, Sebastien Buemi and Lucas di Grassi discuss the artificial chicane with race director that created problems during first two days of testing.

Some F1 teams already support Formula E, batteries are provided by Williams and McLaren Electronics for the powertrain.

Michelin provide the tyres and Dallara/Spark Racing Technology the chassis. From first impression, the Spark-Renault SRT-01E doesn’t appear to look like ‘the future’ but at least to my eyes not a bad-looking thing at all.

The sound the SRT-01E makes has also faced criticism which I think is unfair. You don’t hear an electric car make much, if any noise so what do expect with a Formula E car? All you can hear mainly is a gearbox whine.

From testing, there’s no clear favourites yet of which driver/team to watch. Drivers and engineers have been getting used to the cars and focusing on reliability which will mostly overshadow pure speed for this season.

Teams have the same cars and will help the initial development. Not until the next season that we might see some variation in the way the cars look and see any frontrunners appear when the FIA bring in rules that mirror Formula 1, somewhat. Yes compared to F1 the cars are slow but after a good year or so the speed is bound to increase with development.

Each race weekend will start with a singular practice session followed by one qualifying session. Then a 45-minute race will see a mandatory pit stop where the drivers have to change cars, as currently the batteries in the cars don’t last long enough. See the pit stops will be like MotoGP pit stops but only take longer due to drivers having to be unstrapped and strapped in. Teams have been aiming to take no longer than a minute.

Formula E certainly needs people to give it a chance.

Fan Boost brings something very unique but that and quite a few aspects need to work out for it to become a viable racing series that continues for season after season.

Oriol Servia – Dragon Racing-w1024

Bruno Senna – Mahindra Racing-w1024

Sebastien Buemi – eDams-w1024

Written by – Emma Bothamley

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