Is Formula E worth the effort?
On Saturday 13 May, my family and I were in Monaco (Montecarlo) to see the 2nd e-Prix there. That is the Formula E (FE) Monaco ePrix, the grand prix of “electric Formula One (F1) cars”. Since we have a few followers who like me are into motorsport – and the planet – here is what we learned.
In 2011, Alejandro Agag, Chairman of Addax Capital, Jean Todt, FIA President, and Antonio Tajani, European Parliament President, had the vision in Paris to create an electric car championship. In 2014, season 1 kicked off in China (Beijing).
The FE race cars look like F1s, but they utilise and develop top clean technologies. The sport is up and coming, leveraging new, more engaging ways to incorporate (literally) fans into exciting, unpredictable races. Via the FanBoost* fans can give a real boost to the drivers they support.
Cars are built by Spark Racing Technology (SRT) with a consortium of technical partners: Dallara for monocoque and chassis; McLaren for electronic systems (powertrain and electronics); Williams Advanced Engineering for batteries; and Renault for system integration.
(SRT will continue to supply the race cars into the 2018/19 season. However the formula will become increasingly open in terms of changes teams can make to their cars, allowing new technical solutions provided by additional automotive and technology companies.)
FE in a few figures
- 12 races take place in leading cities, including Hong Kong, Paris, Berlin, New York, Montreal and of course Monaco
- Races last 1 hour, batteries last 30 min so drivers go to their boxes to change cars (!) around mid-race
- 20 drivers from 10 teams, including Renault, Audi, Jaguar and Andretti
- 4 of the drivers are former F1 drivers: Buemi (current FE Champion), Piquet Jr (1st FE Champion), Heidfeld and Vergne
- Cars weight 880kg, reach a top speed of 225 km/h (140 mph) and go from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 3 seconds
- Powered by 230Kg of lithium-ion cells, operating at 28kW/h with a maximum power of 200kW (272 horsepower)
- (The power should increase gradually in the next two seasons to 250kW)
- Tyres: treaded 18-inch, reduced weight, energy-efficient (by Michelin)
Many countries show live on TV the races, which take place on Saturdays, usually. FE is backed by FIA, just like F1. Like F1, it is intended to entertain as well as accelerate the progress of car tech. Of the clean kind, in the FE case. This makes FE the most important form of motorsport… for the Environmental Change fight.
Former F1 and FE driver Bruno Senna said FE is the future of motorsport. Thanks to projects like this, our planet may have a future.
By the way, championship leader Buemi (Renault), after a good fight with Di Grassi, has won the race. For us, it has been a very nice day. The weather – sunny and not too hot – and the unique settings of the city have greatly helped. FE cars are fairly silent. This has allowed my two and a half-year-old son to attend and enjoy the race…
So YES it is worth it!
* The three winning FanBoost drivers each receive an extra 100 kJ of energy to be used in a power window between 180 kW and 200 kW