22 December 2013

Formula E – Sparks will fly literally.

screen shot 2013-12-22 at 12.51.04 amThe next generation of racing is closer than we think. Ever since the idea flew out of someone’s mouth last April 2011, FIA’s governing body has given its blessing to sanction Formula E: the world’s first full sized, zero emission, battery operated race. By September 10, 2014, high speed electric car races will start humming in the streets of city centers around the globe just like their nosier gas guzzling counterparts in F1. This little exercise is aimed to give battery-powered vehicles some street cred and hopefully advance the technology further after it has been given its paces. Something like how Ferrari perfected their paddle shifter in F1 then transferring the tech to their road cars.

It looks like all plans are a “go” given that the FIA has already announced that the 10 city Formula E race series will start in Beijing next year. The races then zip through Putrajaya, Malaysia; Hong Kong; Punta Del Este, Uruguay; Buenos Aires; Los Angeles; Miami; Monte Carlo; Berlin; and London. An encouraging mix of players jump in as Formula E has since signed up with commercial partners like the frenchies Renault SA and Michelin. Also in on the action is McLaren who are up to the task of developing motors for the series and Williams taking care of the battery technology. Initially, 10 teams with 2 drivers each are set to race. With that list, brighter days are up ahead.

Formula E’s head honcho Alejandro Agag hopes use these races to give the electric cars’ stereotyped image a redux. Having battery operated cars racing at speeds of 220 kph through the major cities will boost interest in electric powered motor vehicles while enhancing the technology in the process. Given that he and fellow conquistador Enrique Banuelos have invested… (place pinky finger on the side of your mouth now)… $100 million dollars on this venture.

In line with this, one of the potential streakers will be one from the partnership of Spark-Renault. Their SRT_01E has already started training for the event. Making their runs at the La Ferté Gaucher circuit near Choisy-le-Roi, France with test pilot, Lucas di Grassi who was a ex Virgin Racing F1 driver…. (Virgin Racing was an actual team! Stop giggling!).

Although not conceived to rival F1 racing, the Formula E intends to awaken a potential market. Compared to F1’s orchestra of engine bellows and screams from dead dinosaurs, Formula E will have a soundtrack similar to your refrigerator… it’s going to be like watching F1 in mute. Hopefully they secure the roads during the race, a quiet race usually will result in dead pedestrians.