Formula E: The Next Best Thing

In another post, I mention three road-going super cars which make use of the hybrid engine technology currently found in Formula 1 racing. Until now, Formula 1 has been the pinnacle of automotive development, but there is a new racing series about to get under way which goes beyond the cutting edge of engineering by removing the engine all together. Running entirely on electric motors and battery power, the starting grid for the new Formula E racing series will have an altogether different buzz.

Supported by the FIA, the global governing body for motorsport, Formula E will bring exciting, single-seat, open wheel racing to city centres around the world for a full day of environmentally responsible competition and live entertainment. For the inaugural season, all of the cars will be, fundamentally, the same – a Renault-Spark SRT-01E designed in partnership with Michelin Tyres and renowned race car manufacturer Dallara – pitting drivers against each other on level terms.

Some of the drivers in the mix will be familiar names to Formula 1 fans, and one team even includes 4-time F1 World Champion Alain Prost among its Senior Management.

This, then, is a racing series to be taken seriously.

All 10 races of the opening season will be televised in the UK on ITV 4, the first race in Beijing, China, being scheduled for Saturday 13th September 2014. At the time of writing, 9 of the 10 host cities had been announced, with the London City Centre “ePrix” scheduled to take place on Saturday, 27th June, 2015. With all the action in each round, including Practice, Qualifying and the hour-long Race, happening in a single day, the city centres will be transformed to capture the attention of those who might not normally get the chance to experience motor racing up close.

Despite being an international sport, all of the teams, and the Administration HQ of Formula E will be based at the brand new, purpose built centre at Donnington Park Circuit in England. The state-of-the-art facility has been built to comply with the “Very Good” BREEAM sustainable construction standards and with the Government’s Low Carbon Economy and the National Planning Policy Framework requirements. By locating all of the teams on the same site, there will be a far lower carbon footprint, in terms of parts delivery & transport than in most current racing series.

Aimed at attracting major car makers into the Electric Vehicle development race, the new racing series is being championed by some of the most influential and respected people in both motor-sport, and the EV industry.

After seeing the new car in action for the first time, Co-Team Principal of the e.DAMS team, and one of the world’s all-time greatest racing drivers, Alain Prost, said, “We are very optimistic when you see the technology of the batteries in the next few years, we are optimistic that it’s going to get better and better. And that’s also the key, we are going to show the people outside that this technology is making progress very quickly.”

The English language television coverage will be hosted by Gadget Show Live presenter Nicki Shields, with Technical insight from Fully-Charged presenter Robert Llewelyn and Commentary from Jack Nicholls and one of the US IndyCar series’ most decorated drivers, Dario Franchitti.

Five days of testing will take place at Donnington Park in July and August, and will be free to attend for spectators. Pre-booking is required to secure a place, so visit FIAFormulaE.com for details.

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