What is Formula E
Formula E is a new FIA single-seater championship and the world’s first fully-electric racing series.
Commencing in September 2014 through to June 2015, the championship will compete in the heart of 10 of the world’s leading cities – including London, Beijing and Miami – racing around their iconic landmarks. For the inaugural season, 10 teams, each with two drivers, will go head-to-head creating a unique and exciting racing series designed to appeal to a new generation of motorsport fans.
It represents a vision for the future of the motor industry over the coming decades, serving as a framework for R&D around the electric vehicle, accelerating general interest in these cars and promoting sustainability.
Why Formula E?
Formula E is managed by Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the same folks who put on the Formula 1 races. “It’s meant to promote emission-free racing and technical innovation in front of new audiences,” as Roger Griffiths, FIA’s director of motorsport development, told the auto-racing news site Racer.com.
The event featured racecars powered by electric batteries and capable of accelerating from zero to 60 miles per hour in three seconds, according to the organizers. All 10 teams used similar cars assembled by a French company, Spark Racing Technology, and showcasing battery packs made by the British company Williams Advanced Engineering and all-weather 18-inch tires made by Michelin (ML:FP).
“If you’re an old gearhead and can’t stand the idea of electric formula cars, that’s OK; Formula E was not created with you in mind,” said Griffiths. “If you’re a fan of technology and want to be at the forefront of all things new and interesting, you’re Formula E’s target demographic.” The 2014-15 racing season will travel to nine cities worldwide, including the first race in Beijing, Berlin, Monte Carlo, Miami with the last race to be in London next summer.
The companies supplying component parts are using the novel races as an opportunity to test new products and to promote their electric vehicle know-how. “For Michelin, the FIA Formula E Championship serves as an experimental laboratory for high-performance electric vehicle tires,” as the company said in a statement. “These cars present several major challenges, such as the ability to withstand and transfer the instantaneous torque of electric motors.”
What are the Teams and who are the Drivers?
The inaugural season will see 10 teams, each with two drivers, competing in the 2014/2015 FIA Formula E Championship.
For season one, each team will run four Spark-Renault SRT_01E Formula E cars, two per driver, with the cars/teams based at a purpose built central workshop at Donington Park during the off-season.
From season two, Formula E will become an ‘open championship’ allowing teams to design and develop their own cars – in accordance to the technical specifications set out by the FIA – and showcasing their electrical energy innovations in a competitive, racing environment.
The 10 teams compromise:
Andretti Formula E
Audi Sport ABT
Lucas di Grassi
Who won the first race in China?
The inaugural Formula E race, held around Olympic Park in Beijing, will be remembered for Lucas di Grassi scoring one of the luckier wins of his career, and Nick Heidfeld having one of his luckiest escapes, following a last lap collision with Nicolas Prost.
Saturday’s racetrack was a roughly two-mile loop through Olympic Park, swerving around landmarks built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, including the Bird’s Nest Stadium and the Water Cube athletics center.
An eventful, though rarely thrilling race had seen polesitter Prost keeping his e.dams-Renault at the head of the field throughout, barring the car-changing mid-race pit stops. However, in the second half of the race, he’d been under pressure from Heidfeld’s Venturi machine, as well as di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT) and Franck Montagny (Andretti Autosport).
With three laps to go, though, the leading pair edged away into a private battle, and Heidfeld appeared to have timed the winning pass to perfection, ducking out from behind Prost going into the braking zone on the last turn of the last lap. Despite his Rebellion Racing sports car teammate being fully alongside, Prost swerved hard left.
This pushed the Venturi car over high curbing and out of control, launching it into the catch fencing (see video below). Heidfeld wriggled free from his upside down machine but was clearly unimpressed with Prost.