Formula E- It’s Electric! With David Hall.

Formula E finished the season as dramatically as it had started, grabbing the audiences’ attention right on the final lap. Nicolas Prost and Nick Heidfeld’s collision on the last corner of the last lap (Causing the latter to crash out spectacularly) ensured that Lucas Di Grassi won the opening race of the season in Beijing, and Formula E made headlines.

At London, Formula E was finishing with a slightly different style. Pole and a win in the Saturday race ensured that Sébastien Buemi closed the gap to Championship leader Nelson Piquet Jr to only 5 points. While concerns over the surface of the first corner lead to a rolling start in the first race an impressive response from the organisers saw the area resurfaced to allow the usual standing start procedure to be reinstated for Sunday.

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London Race 1 winner, Sébastien Buemi behind the BMW i8 safety car

A rain affected qualifying for the Sunday race seemed to swing momentum even further in the e.dams-Renault driver’s favour. Buemi lined up 6th. Piquet a disastrous 16th. Having wrapped up the Constructor’s Championship on Saturday it seemed a tight Battersea Park, where position was king, would surely hand Buemi the title.

Piquet was among the drivers that lost out most due to changing conditions in qualifying

Piquet was among the drivers that lost out most due to changing conditions in qualifying

Nothing’s ever that simple in Motorsport and when the motors spun into life off the line on Sunday, it was Piquet who made the moves early on, gaining 4 places at the start. When Buemi spun on his outlap after changing cars, it proved to be the mistake that would cost him the title. While Piquet put passes on China Racing teammate Oliver Turvey and Amlin Aguri driver Salvador Duran in the closing stages, Buemi’s frustration was boiling over as he was stuck behind the more defensively set Bruno Senna.

There was more drama at the front as Stéphane Sarrazin and Sam Bird fought for the win. When the Venturi driver’s energy level showed 0% it was game over for Sarrazin. His 49 second penalty handing an ecstatic Virgin Racing driver a win on home soil.

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This penalty had no effect on the battle for the title and an emotional Nelson Piquet became the Inaugural Champion of the Formula E Series by a solidary point.

Despite missing out on the Driver’s title e.dams-Renault became the first Constructors Champions. It was a bitter sweet weekend for team co-founder Alain Prost:

“We’re very disappointed for Sébastien. I know exactly what it’s like to lose a title by a point, but you can pick yourself up and come back even stronger”

“In any case, bravo to our rivals. However, I want to concentrate on the positive side of this season, in particular the thrilling aspect of this championship that was decided in the last corner of the last race! For e.dams-Renault it has also been a great success with the teams’ title and the runner-up spot for Sébastien as well as Nicolas’s good performances. This week we’re going to start focusing on the second season with development testing and the aim of doing better than this year.”

It wasn’t just the racing that grabbed the attention at the weekend either. Formula E had been shown on ITV 4 during the season, but for the finale it was aired on ITV1 & viewership rose to 1.2 Million for the final race. The attendance figure for Battersea Park was 60,000.
Formula E is attracting fans to motorsport that might not otherwise engage with the sport. There is no roar from the Williams battery powered Mclaren e-motor. Only the whir of the motor which has led some to declare it “Scalextric Racing”. Formula E does not hide from this fact. It uses it as a plus point. The noise level of the sport allows it unprecedented access into Cities around the world, bringing it straight to the heart of its target audience. Clearly it has been marketed as a family event and it is to be commended for accentuating the positives of the sport rather than allowing negativity to take hold.

From a technical viewpoint the Spark Renault STR 01E is a stunning combination of some state of the art hardware, and why wouldn’t it be with two Formula 1 heavyweights supplying the technology.

Williams supplying the Lithium-Ion power cell:

– 200Kg Power Cell
– 1000V Max Bus Voltage
– 200Kw peak power
– Max useable energy 28KWH

McLaren supplying a variant of the P1 Hypercar e Motor:

– 130NM Torque
– 17,500 Max RPM
– 200Kw Max Battery Power (Just under 270HP in qualifying mode)
– 150Kw Race mode (200HP)
– 180Kw with Fan Boost (240HP)
– 91% efficiency battery to motor shaft

With a 5 speed sequential gearbox from Hewland based on an F3 unit. F3 power levels from a Lithium-Ion power cell is quite impressive, and that’s with a conservative approach to the first season. I’m not suggesting they would match F3 for lap times as the Michelin supplied tyres to the series are all weather as opposed to the slick options available to F3 teams, but for comparison of max power it’s quite impressive. No this is not Formula 1, but as a starting point it’s an amazing piece of kit. To go off on a slight tangent – With no reverse gear and a reversible motor instead this could, in theory, be just as quick in reverse.
For season two the powertrain will be open to development from manufacturers/constructors and with that in mind the system is modular to allow components to be upgraded without rendering others obsolete.

Sustainable development being key for a technology that will rapidly develop. Clean energy doesn’t stop at the cars themselves. The generators that charge the race cars over the weekend are fuelled by renewable glycerine, a non-toxic sugar alcohol by-product of biodiesel.

Winner of the Formula E Finale, Sam Bird. Virgin Racing

Winner of the Formula E Finale, Sam Bird. Virgin Racing

Richard Branson, whose team Virgin Racing won the final race of the season has high hopes for the Championship:

“I think four or five years from now you’ll find Formula E overtaking Formula One in terms of number of people [watching] and more and more, as time goes on, clean energy businesses are going to power ahead of other businesses.

“There’s still going to be room for Formula One for a few more years but I would say there will come a time when Formula E will overtake it. With Formula E, you can still hear the roar of the cars from the tarmac as they come through a corner, but at least you can have a conversation and a drink when you’re watching which you can’t do with Formula One.”

“To have this many people in the press tent says it all, and to have got these beautiful sites – the site here is one of the prettiest in the world – and it’s so well organised. It’s captured the imagination of the public and in the next two or three years I think it’s going to grow as quickly as clean energy generally is.”

It’s quite the hyperbole and we’d expect nothing less. I don’t want to have to pick between classes. It seems to be a need to select one or the other, but here we have a class that knows what it is and markets itself aggressively and smartly on social media accordingly.  Fan Boost might not be to everyone’s taste but it is another example of how Formula E is actively engaging its fan base. Between Periscope updates and impressive team engagements with its fans on here is a sport showing how to do things differently and do it well. Rather than write an epitaph for another series Formula E is a beacon for positive energy in a series that knows what it is, knows where it is going, and markets itself accordingly. In that it is already ahead.

Motorsport.ie Formula E

Season 2.0:
Teams and circuits have already been mostly confirmed for 2015/2016.
In the Calendar London retains its unique position as season finale and the only double header on the tour. Miami and Monaco are dropped. In the latter’s case it is probably no harm to have the direct comparison it had with Formula 1 removed from the picture.

Championship Calendar

Round Date Country ePrix
1 17/10/15 China Beijing
2 07/11/15 Malaysia Putrajaya
3 19/12/15 Uruguay * Punta del Este *
4 0602/16 Argentina * Buenos Aires *
5 19/03/16 TBD TBD
6 02/04/16 USA Long Beach
7 23/04/16 France Paris
8 21/05/16 Germany Berlin
9 04/06/16 Russia Moscow
10 & 11 TBD England London

*TBC

Formula E’s Social Media success story is breaking up. Confirmed by the entry list is the fact that Amlin and Aguri are going their separate ways. @TeamAguri have also set up a new twitter account for the upcoming season and VanDutch sponsorship has appeared on their cars in testing. Other than that it remains as you were for Season 2.0.

2015-2016 Formula E Teams

ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport
Andretti Formula E Team
Dragon Racing
DS Virgin Racing
e.dams Renault (Constructor’s Champion)
Mahindra Racing
NEXTEV TCR (Driver’s Champion)
Team Aguri
Trulli Formula E
Venturi Formula E

Superlicence & E Licence Update

The Formula E Champion will qualify for a super licence for the following season, even though the class itself is not on the points ladder. Do not pass through GP2. Head straight to your nearest F1 team and bring your sponsors.

The WMSC approved the update of the Super Licence regulations with a view to:

  • Increasing flexibility for drivers having qualified for a Super Licence, but do not have the opportunity to race in Formula One. These drivers will now keep this possibility for three years (eg. typical F1 test driver situation)
  • Enlarging the list of Series included in the Super Licence point system following numerous requests from series for inclusion
  • Adjusting of points given to some series already included to better reflect the strength of series.
  • Granting the champion of the FIA Formula E Championship with a Super Licence for the following season, although the Championship is not part of the points system

Any driver looking to compete in a Formula E event will now require an E-Licence.
No longer will Formula 1 drivers with exquisite facial hair be able to commandeer a drive, the following requirements will need to be met:

– A specific FIA training session regarding the most important points of the electrical safety, technical and sporting aspects of the competition

– To have accumulated in the previous three years at least 20 points of the FIA points system used to qualify to the F1 Super Licence, or to have previously been holding an F1 Super Licence, or to have participated in at least three races of the previous FIA Formula E Championship.
– A driver judged by the FIA to have consistently demonstrated outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars, but with no opportunity to qualify under any of the requirements above.

David Hall

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