Formula-e is a new FIA backed motor racing formula that is being trailed for the first time in 2014.
So do we need another racing Formula?
Well maybe, as the main concept is about high performance electric car racing. No that doesn’t mean Grandma has had a bigger battery fitted to her mobility scooter and she has got together with some of her coffee morning mates. It means there is a serious attempt by some high profile names to get an interest in electric cars and help the development of electric road cars in the same way F1 has contributed to all aspects of road cars.
People Power Speed Bonus Boost!
Formula-e is not intended to take on F1 after it’s recent changes to a hybrid energy recovery formula but to appeal to people who may not usually watch motor racing as well as motor racing fans. All 10 races will take place in cities around the world, not on race tracks, so audiences don’t need to travel far to watch the race. The whole event from practice to the race will take place on one day so more inviting as a day out to watch the action compared to most formulas that take place over the whole weekend. There is also an element of audience participation voting for three drivers to have access to a 5 second power boost for the race. No Mario Kart bananas allowed on track yet but maybe that will come next year.
Many ex-F1 Teams and Drivers involved in Formula-e
Formula-e is backed by some big names with teams owned by the 4 times F1 world champion Alan Prost, famous racing family the Andretti’s, ex-F1 driver Jano Trulli, Virgin owner Richard Branson and film star Leonardo DiCaprio. The driver line up contains many who have driven in F1 such as Nick Heidfield, Jarno Trulli, Takumo Sato, Bruno Senna, Nelson Piquet Jr, Jamie Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi amongst others.
As a long time motor racing fan, motor racing is not just about the cars going around the track but knowing something about the drivers and teams and what it means for them to win or just beat other drivers and teams. That’s when you get involved in the soap opera of the season and enjoy the on track action more. So in my opinion there is good interest in the teams and drivers for existing race fans. I personally would like to see Nick Heidfield and Bruno Senna do well as well as the two British drivers Sam Bird and Katherine Legge.
The cars are made by Sparks Racing Technologies from a chassis made by Dallara who build chassis for Formula 3 and several American formulas including Indy Car. The electric motor is supplied by McLaren F1’s technology company McLaren Electronics. The batteries are supplied by Williams F1. The fixed ratio sequential gear box is supplied by Hewland Engineering. The systems are integrated by Renault.
The Formula-e cars can reach speeds of about 140mph (225 Km/h). The battery will last about 30 minutes before the driver has to pit to change cars, as it would be too dangerous to change batteries instead. It’s that or have a pit stop take 50 minutes while they are recharged!!! A slight contrast to a Formula One tyre change of 2.3 seconds. For safety the drivers are not allowed to take less than 50 seconds to change cars and be strapped in safely.
One of the elements of motor racing that fans enjoy is the roar of the engines. As the cars go full throttle, the sound vibrates through your body as they go thundering by. Obviously this is not the case with electric vehicles. Formula-e cars make a whining sound like a jet engine starting up at about 80 decibels which is a bit more than a road car at 70mph. So not as quiet as I first thought, with a unique sound which may not suit some race fans but would suit family’s with children going to a Formula-e race event.
Driving the Cars
It sounds like the drivers will have a lot to do on board. As the electronics recover energy under braking the cars will brake differently into corners based on the speed and type of corner, so the driver will need to adjust the brake balance as they go round the track. Get this wrong and the wheels will lock up causing the car to skid or cause them to go to deep into a corner meaning they will be slow to accelerate away. This should also mean that the drivers who get the hang of this the best will be the ones doing the overtaking in the corners.
One to watch….
Formula-e looks interesting, lets hope the on track action is good and is enjoyable to watch. I will keep an open mind and watch it for the whole season as ITV4 are showing all races live.
I will add a post after each race with a summary of the points standings and my general point of view of the race.
Formula-e Race Calendar 2014/15 season
The 2014/15 Race calender contains 10 races between September 2014 to June 2015.
September 13th – China – Bejing
November 22nd – Malaysia – Putrajaya
December 13th – Uruguay – Punta Del Este
January 10th – Argentina – Buenoa Aires
February 14th – TBA
March 14th – USA – Miami
April 4th – USA – Long Beach
May 9th – Monaco – Monte Carlo
May 30th – Germany – Berlin
June 27th – England – London
Teams and Drivers
Team: Amlin Aguri (Japan)
Drivers: Katherine Legge (British) & Takuma Sato (Japanese)
Team: Andretti Formula E (USA)
Drivers: Frank Montagny (French) & Charles Pic (French)
Team: Audi Sport ABT (Germany)
Drivers: Lucas di Grassi (Brazilian) & Daniel Abt (German)
Team: China Racing (China)
Drivers: Nelson Piquet (Brazilian) & Ho-Pin Tung (Chinese)
Team: Dragon Racing (USA)
Drivers: Jerome d’Ambrosio (Belgian) & Oriol Servia (Spanish)
Team: E.Dams-Renault (French)
Drivers: Nicolas Prost (French) & Sebastien Buemi (Swiss)
Team: Mahindra Racing (India)
Drivers: Karun Chandok (Indian) & Bruno Senna (Brazilian)
Teams: Trulli (Switzerland)
Drivers: Jarno Trulli (Italian) & Michela Cerruti (Italian)
Team: Venturi (Monaco)
Drivers: Nick Heidfeld (German) & Stephane Sarrazin (French)
Team: Virgin Racing (British)
Drivers: Jamie Alguersuarl (Spanish) & Sam Bird (English)