Formula E: A Boost For Motor Racing?

January 20, 2014 3:36 pm

Formula E is a brand new racing series set to launch later this year. The new series will feature exclusively electric powered single-seater race cars with technology never before seen in the world of motor racing. Formula E’s inaugural season will run from September 2014 through to June 2015 and will be made entirely of street circuits, with races set to be held in Beijing, LA, Berlin, Monaco and London.

For motor racing fans, Formula E is an exciting new prospect. For the past four seasons, Formula 1 has seen the dominance of Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing, and a lot of F1 fans are feeling the repetitiveness of the pinnacle of Motorsport. Bizarre regulations have seen the decline of flat-out racing, as weak Pirelli tyres force drivers to conserve rubber. 2013 was not a great year for F1, and fans were noticeably bored by the season’s end. As thrilling as Formula 1 is, recent seasons simply haven’t lived up to their expectations.


Zero Emissions

Formula E on the other hand, promises to deliver an exciting new category of racing. The aims of the new Formula are Energy, Environment and Entertainment. The three E’s are a breath of fresh air (literally) for the motor racing world. Formula E’s unique car, the Spark Renault SRT_01E has zero emissions, and is the forerunner of an environmental campaign by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile. The FIA is the governing body behind F1 and other motor racing world championships, and hopes Formula E will reach out to a new generation of fans. The green credentials of the new series are also keeping in line with an increasing global shift towards renewable energy and electric vehicles.

F1 Technology

In terms of technology, Formula E is cutting edge. The race cars have sleek aerodynamic designs developed by Dallara, whilst the electric engines are coupled with innovative wireless charging by Qualcomm. Bespoke all-weather tyres have been developed by Michelin, with treads capable of handling the potential dry heat of LA as well as the soaked streets of London. F1 technology has been transferred to Formula E, as the electric power train and electronics are provided by McLaren Electronics Systems. 200kw batteries, capable of 250bhp, have been developed by Williams Advanced Engineering. Overseeing all of the system integration are Renault, a world leader in electric vehicles.


Big Names

The stunning car is not the only draw of Formula E, however. Ten teams have been confirmed for the 2014/15 season, and a range of high profile names are involved. Hollywood actor Leonardo di Caprio is the co-founder of the Monaco-based Venturi Grand Prix team and appears to be committed to the project. Richard Branson’s Virgin Group have a team in Virgin Racing, whilst four-time F1 champion Alain Prost is co-founder of the French e.Dams team. Other major names include Audi Sport, Super Aguri and Andretti Autosport, all of which have motor racing credentials.


Potential For Success

Each team will feature two drivers, but nobody has yet been confirmed. Instead, interested racers join the Formula E Drivers’ Club, and will take part in test sessions before the first season. Members of the Drivers’ Club so far include five former-F1 stars in Sebastian Buemi, Takuma Sato, Lucas di Grassi, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Karun Chandhok. IndyCar driver Marco Andretti is also a member, alongside Ma Qing Hua and Adrien Tambay. The line-up so far has a lot of potential, and more drivers are yet to join the club.
At the moment, Formula E is in its preliminary stages, and publicity events are being held worldwide. Most recently, the Spark Renault SRT_01E took a high speed spin in Las Vegas driven by test driver Lucas di Grassi.

Formula E is set to begin on 13 September 2014 with an opening race on the streets of Beijing. When the lights go out on the grid, the motor racing world will be watching, and perhaps a great new Motorsport will have been given the green light. More details of the new series can be found here.

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