Automakers and many good racers rushed into the Formula E championship. Why do they need it and is it really so cool?
Already on December 15, the new Formula E season will begin with a race in Saudi Arabia (what a paradox – electric races in an oil country!) and it will not only become the fifth in the history of the series, but will also radically change the face of the championship. We managed to visit the last stage of the former Formula E, so we can share our first-hand impressions, and at the same time we can imagine how the changes will affect entertainment and popularity.
What is Formula E?
First, a little history. The first season took place in 2014-2015 at the suggestion of Alejandro Agaga (founder and director of Formula E), a well-known person in the motorsport world. Then the cars were equipped with a standard power plant, which did not particularly attract automakers, so from next year the participants were allowed to independently develop electric motors, transformers, a cooling system and a transmission.
And in March of this year, the next generation car was introduced – the design became more futuristic, the power of the electric motor was raised to 250 kW (340 hp) in qualifying mode (in racing, there is a limit of 272 hp to ensure power reserve). Therefore, the maximum speed on fast tracks should increase to 280 km / h. Tires – 18-inch Michelin Pilot Sport with tread.
The main feature of the new car is that it will allow you to drive the entire distance of the race without changing cars – before you had to change to another one with fully charged batteries around the middle of the race. True, last season’s champion, Jean-Eric Vergne (a friend from Formula 1 for Toro Rosso) suggested that this could adversely affect entertainment. And there is some truth in this – it required the teams to develop tactics, and at the same time brought confusion, which influenced the final positions.
What Formula E can interest the audience?
The reasons, in fact, are many – even from the point of view of a true motorsport fan. The first is accessibility, and it’s not just about ticket prices. All races (or ePrix, by analogy with the Grand Prix) are held in large metropolitan areas, including Rome, Paris, Hong Kong right on the city streets, so there is no need to get to a stationary track through traffic jams.
Particularly good in this regard is the stage in New York – the traditional season finale with two races (on Saturday and Sunday). Fighting on a narrow track with concrete fences against the backdrop of the skyscrapers of Manhattan is a wonderful sight! Alejandro Agag, by the way, has already mentioned that Formula E really wants to hold the ePrix in Moscow…
During the off-season, the organizers filled the channel with different selections. These are the 10 scariest accidents (don’t worry, these cars are very safe)
Spectators will also be pleased with a decent number of overtakes – riders are forced to save battery power and decide for themselves when to use it to the maximum. Therefore, on the track, they often change places, and the features of the tracks (narrow and short) lead to accidents in case of errors. In addition, fans can independently influence the outcome of the race – the pilots who take the first 5 places in the online voting get the opportunity to briefly increase the amount of energy in the second half of the race.
And from this year, the FIA introduces an additional bonus of 25 kW, which can be “activated” in a certain place outside the racing trajectory (losing a little time on this) and then attack for 4 minutes. All for the sake of increasing the number of overtaking! The results, by the way, are really tight – the best team was determined only at the last stage, and the difference was only 2 points. Yes, and Jean-Eric Vergne came to New York not yet in the status of a champion. And the number of top drivers is growing year after year – for example, this season alone will include former Formula 1 drivers Felipe Massa, Sebastien Buemi, Nelson Piqué Jr., Lucas di Grassi, Stoffel Vandorn and Pascal Wehrlein, full of DTM and endurance racing stars – Gary Puffett, Jose Maria Lopez, Edoardo Mortara, Andre Lotterer.
The number of stars is not accidental – out of 11 teams, 8 are somehow connected with automakers! So, there is someone to look at. And if there is no opportunity or desire to come to the track, then the races are shown live on the Eurosport TV channel or on the official Youtube channel of the series (later they are available on record). And the format is not tiring – 45 minutes plus 1 lap. One problem is the lack of engine sound. Live, it most of all resembles … a pig squeal.
Why Formula E for automakers?
Audi, DS Automobiles, Jaguar and Mahindra are already present here, and now BMW , Nissan (he replaced partners from Renault) and Mercedes-Benz have joined them , and the latter even abandoned the DTM series for this, which is unthinkable without cars with a three-beam star! True, in the first season the Germans will perform under the HWA brand, but this is their traditional move in the new racing series. Ferrari is also thinking about Formula E, and next year Porsche comes – after a successful return to marathons (three victories in a row at the 24 Hours of Le Mans), it was the electric series that was chosen. Why?
This question was answered by Andreas Seidl (yes, people from Porsche already drive Formula E, long before the debut!), Responsible for the Formula E program: “Yes, we have a standardized chassis and battery, but there are so many opportunities where you can prove the superiority of Porsche in electrical technology. The world is changing, people are becoming interested in electric vehicles, so this series is a great chance to show our best qualities against the competition. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper to compete here than even in the WEC, let alone Formula 1.”
And this is true – for example, the cost of an electric motor is limited by the FIA to the level of 250 thousand euros, tires and brakes are the same for everyone, and a relatively short distance does not “exhaust” cars too much, technical failures in Formula E are rare. Yesterday, the Porsche team confirmed the first driver – the Swiss Neil Jani, who won the 24 Hours of Le Mans marathon with Porsche in 2016. But they also have another trump card in the form of Brandon Hartley – the New Zealander has not only a victory in Le Mans, but also the experience of modern Formula 1, which uses hybrid technologies. So their move to Formula E is sure to puzzle the competition. And we will watch the new season with interest – the race in Saudi Arabia starts at 15:00 Moscow time.
Formula E calendar (season 2018/2019)
- December 15, 2018 – Hell Diriyah (Saudi Arabia)
- January 12, 2019 – Marrakech (Morocco)
- January 26, 2019 – Santiago (Chile)
- February 16, 2019 – Mexico City (Mexico)
- March 10, 2019 – Hong Kong (China)
- March 23, 2019 — Sanya (China)
- April 13, 2019 – Rome (Italy)
- April 27, 2019 – Paris (France)
- May 11, 2019 — Monaco (Monaco)
- June 22, 2019 — Bern (Switzerland)
- July 13-14, 2019 – New York (USA