Ex F1 aerodynamicist Migeot unveils vision for Electric racing future
Innovation
Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Sep 2011   |  10:45 am GMT  |  105 comments

Ever since the FIA fired the starting gun on Formula E; a challenge to the motor sport industry to come up with the best model for a premier level electric vehicle international racing series starting in 2013, there have been all kinds of expressions of interest in the tender process.

Today the French aerodynamics guru Jean Claude Migeot, who designed the distinctive high nose Tyrrell, driven by Jean Alesi in the early 1990s, has unveiled Formula REV, his vision for how it should be done.

Migeot, who now runs the Fondtech wind tunnel business in Italy, used by Team Lotus, believes that the FIA series should be based on a 20 minute sprint race format, akin to Formula 3, with low drag four wheel drive single seaters. The battery would be limited to 300kg, with a minumum vehicle weight of 750kg, the maximum electrical power would be 200kW. This would give performance of 0-100km/h in 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 260km/h. The range of the vehicle would be 50 kilometres.

Migeot (left) with Gasparini


“A little reasoning is enough to conclude that any thought of an electric Formula 1 car is currently just unachievable,” says Fondtech head of engineering Luca Gaspirini. “Instead, Formula 3 level means delivering exciting performance in terms of straight-line and cornering speed for an acceptably long or, you may say, not too short time, thus resulting in truly entertaining races. While all this might not be achieved from the very beginning it is close enough to be considered reasonably within reach.”

The 4WD is eye catching; Migeot’s rationale is that 4WD will provide better energy regeneration under braking, increasing range. It will also offer more control over traction and the electrical contribution to braking, making for a more efficient vehicle. This he feels will be a key development area for road car technology in future.

He addresses the fundamental issue of weight of batteries versus range of car.

“It is surprising to realise that a 300kg Lithium-ion cell battery pack can store an amount of energy approximately equivalent to that of just 4 litres of fossil fuel,” says Migeot’s statement. “Even when you consider that an electric motor is vastly more efficient than an internal combustion engine, this huge battery pack only provides the same amount of mechanical energy “at the wheels” as approximately 12 litres of fuel. For this to be compensated FondTech had to adopt new ways of thinking and break certain taboos when it came to its first F-REV design.

“Where energy consumption is critical, it becomes imperative to develop very low drag configurations whilst working on aerodynamic efficiency to maintain stable downforce and subsequent high cornering speed. This of course brings FondTech back to the heart of its core competence and day-to-day business.”

There is a big push from the EU and from Jean Todt’s FIA for the electric racing series to be a mobile workshop to push forward the development of EV technology for the motor industry, in particular solving the issue of increasing the range of the battery powered EVs to something a motorist would feel comfortable with.

“I believe that large improvements will possibly come only from the development of battery cell technology,” says Gasparini. “This has already happened in the last 20 years going first from Ni-Cd to Ni-MH and then to Li-ion cells. Electric racing cars will play a role in pushing further forward this process of continuous technological development.”

Meanwhile Migeot says that he doesn’t feel that the “sound issue” is an issue at all, “I think people will realise there is a misconception when it comes to an electrically produced sound, ” he says. “Whenever you mention a high revving machine you are not talking about silence. You lose the pulse-generated noise of an internal combustion engine but it is a different kind of sound which is more like that of a jet engine.

There remains the question of how the FIA’s Formula E series should be run; should it be a single make series, with one organisatio, such as Fondtech, supplying the cars, or should it be an open championship with manufacturers and tech companies competing against each other to win a tech war?

“The long term solution looks clear: set free the best engineers’ creativity because time is running out,” says Migeot. “Formula E should be an open formula because it is the start of a new era and not a market product. Having said that, what is the best way to reach that point in a short space of time when today we effectively start from zero? I think the FIA wants to be pragmatic and explore any other options on the table.”

Migeot's iconic Tyrrell design


Todt is keen to push the EV agenda and it will be interesting to see whether this series gets a showcase on the race card at F1 events. This will require the support of commercial rights holders Bernie Ecclestone and CVC. Ecclestone is dead against green technology in F1, but may see a deal on a series like this as a way of trade off to keep it out of F1.

Toyota is known to be interested in Formula E and recently succeeded in smashing the EV lap record at the Nordschliefe in Germany as a statement of intent about getting involved in Formula E.

To find out more about EVs go to our sister site http://www.thechargingpoint.com

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105 Comments
  1. Adam Taylor says:

    They may look impressive, corner impressively but i wonder what they will sound like. I hope its not just tyres screeching around a corner. And I guessing that this kind of car will not be cheap to purchase or maintain so I can’t see it currently as an affordable formula for independent teams

    1. Ben says:

      Why do you think it would not be cheap to maintain? An electric motor has only one moving part.

    2. Michael C says:

      “i wonder what they will sound like. I hope its not just tyres screeching around a corner.”

      That’s pretty much it with some powertrain whine.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwHO6sC7Lhs

      1. Sounds pretty awesome to me!

    3. SB says:

      I think they would be cheaper to purchse and maintain then a petrol engine powered car. No more engine rebuilds for a start.

      1. Michael C says:

        It doesn’t pan out that way in the real world. Google the cost differential between any gasoline model and its hybrid or EV equivalent. Even after government grants the cost is 2-3x higher.

        And battery rebuilds are not cheap (or green) either. You can expect any gasoline powered car to run 10-20 years before an engine overhaul. Most hybrids/EVs require a battery replacement every 5 years and the cost can easily approach 50% of the resale value of the vehicle.

        These same problems would carry over from the real world into any racing format as well. I really doubt it would be anything less than dramatically more expensive, or we’d be doing it already.

      2. SB says:

        I think new technology will always cost more then old. I’m sure when ABS and traction control was introduced in F1 cats it cost a fortune, now its standard on almost all road cars. Thats the point of this new formula, to develop and refine technology so that it can be bought to the mass market. Battery costs will come down, and they have reduced in price significantly in the last 10 years. If somthing was to be mass produced the unit price will come down, currently this type of battery is made to order and so expencive. I’m not a enviromental geek, but i can see things changing in the future. Btw, i work for BP.

      3. SB says:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Killed_the_Electric_Car%3F

        interesting reading. Watch the film too, its good.

      4. Lev Piautzer says:

        “Even after government grants the cost is 2-3x higher.

        And battery rebuilds are not cheap (or green) either. You can expect any gasoline powered car to run 10-20 years before an engine overhaul. Most hybrids/EVs require a battery replacement every 5 years and the cost can easily approach 50% of the resale value of the vehicle.”

        This is simply not true.
        If you include the cost of energy, after 5 years EVs normally pay off. And when it comes to battery rebuild – the batteries that are being made now can last for 400.000km what is about 7-10 yrs – after that more than 90% of its parts can be reused.

        So if the battery costs ~10.000 eur, after 400.000 youll need to pay is 1.000eur to give it another life cycle.

      5. devilsadvocate says:

        part of the problem with that argument is that you are talking about a car designed around a petrol engine and driving dynamics then being converted to hybrid or pure EV drive, as opposed to a ground up design based around electrical power plant

      6. Adam Taylor says:

        I agree SB, all technology has to start somewhere and the new innovative technology is not cheap, from R&D to production. But once more units are being produced in a more efficient way then the cost will come down and it will become a more affordable formula.

        But the sooner that this formula gets going the sooner that the technology will be transferred to the road car and we’d be able to go a long way on a smaller battery.

        On a side note, I read today that Silverstone have installed charging points for the public at events. Brilliant initiative!!!

      7. Michael C says:

        “I think new technology will always cost more then old.”

        SB, since you’re in the habit of reading Wiki, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_electric_vehicle. EVs are far from new.
        Here’s a quote:

        “Electricity is one of the oldest automobile propulsion methods still in use today; it predates the invention of Diesel’s and Benz’s Otto cycle-engines by several decades.”

        EVs have always been heavy, slow, short on performance and range, and expensive. We don’t need to kill the EV. It’s never lived up to any generation’s expectations.

      8. Michael C says:

        Adam Taylor, “I agree SB, all technology has to start somewhere and the new innovative technology is not cheap, from R&D to production.”

        This is one rumor/lie I wish we could kill once and for all. The EV predates the Otto cycle internal combustion engine. It’s not expensive because it’s new and innovative. It’s expensive because of inherent problems that haven’t changed for over a century and a half.

      9. jonrob says:

        No more engine rebuilds, but instead commutator cleaning, re-skimming and new brushes. (Let alone the replacement batteries which will cost a fortune) Unless these cars use permanent magnet motors we will always have this problem, just like your washing machine. Permanent magnet motors do not need brushes or commutators but are of limited power.
        Then there will be bearings to consider, though I would hope that by now lifetime bearings could be used.
        The four wheel drive and re-generation was part of the never implemented F1 regs for budget capped teams. However this does mean that the front wheels will be connected by some fairly heavy cable, assuming the voltage in limited to around 30V, though a very much higher voltage would be much more efficient and enable thinner cables to be used.
        Superconductivity (or near as poss) should be allowed IMHO to enable far greater overall efficiency. So these new electric Formula E cars could be very dangerous to approach. A two pole circuit breaker in direct first line from the battery would be needed just as the KERS energy dump button is on F1 cars. It would not be practicable to dump the whole battery load, a small explosion could result.
        As I always used to say back in my car audio (or ICE) days, you can get a good fire going with much less than 1 Amp, (this was normally an indication of a miss-wired or badly made junction as were most “thermal events”)

  2. DMyers says:

    For an idea of the sound, look up the video of Toyota’s electric racing car at the Nordschleife. There is only an on-board camera, so there’s no indication of what it sounds like outside the vehicle, but there is definitely a noise – especially when it’s at high speed on the straights.

    1. Stickman says:

      That car sounds insane. Bring on Formula E. Just keep F1. Personally I don’t really like the sound of an F1 car when compared to a V8 Supercar.

  3. PaulL says:

    Excellent concept. Best of luck to them!

  4. Quercus says:

    Like it or not, this is the way it will be one day, so the decision must be how soon we let it happen. Do we give some of the best engineering minds on the planet (F1 engineers) the opportunity to deliver innovation to our sport or do we hold them back working on internal combustion technology that is ultimately doomed?

    Personally my view is that the problems society is facing with energy, require that the best minds are put to work on it as soon as possible. Then motor racing can do what it does best — push back the boundaries of the technology. Sure it will be different, but it can also be just as exciting. Let’s not be Luddites about this.

    1. Michael C says:

      What evidence do you have that “this is the way it will be one day?” Some of the best engineers on the planet have been working on EV technology since the 1800s and the problems are the same today as they were then. Storing the amount of energy required to power a car electrically is just an exercise in (continued) futility, and it’s far from green. It seems that EVs are doomed, unless we find some way to alter the laws of physics. This is not the right track for F1.

      1. Quercus says:

        Have your not heard that we have reached the end of ‘easy’ oil, Michael, and that the cost of fossil fuels are now rising inexorably? That what’s driving the exploration for unconventional oil and coal — like MTR for coal (mountain top removal) and drilling in deep water and in the Arctic.

        Cheap fossil fuels made research into better batteries uneconomical for almost century (indeed much battery research was bought up by fossil-fuel companies and was quietly sat on) but didn’t you notice the sudden surge in battery development once mobile ‘phone use and laptops took off? And think about cordless tools that suddenly became viable once laptops had led the way.

        Suddenly, as a result of the realisation that we’re seeing the end of cheap oil, research into alternative power storage is taking off, big time. Of course, we are far from seeing the end of oil — but the big developments are behind us and we need the best minds working on alternatives. Hence my comment.

        I guess James knows this, and that’s why he’s working on his ‘chargingpoint’ EV site. He’s the man with his ear to the ground.

      2. Michael C says:

        If what you’re saying is *really* true, then you’d better be prepared to say goodbye to a lot more than just fossil fuels.

        There will be no more petroleum-based lubricants, home heating gas or oil, asphalt for paved roads, or jet fuel. Intermediate chemicals derived from ethylene, propylene, C4, benzene and other higher olefins will go away with all products produced by them.
        Every type of plastic you’ve ever seen is going away too. That means no plastic parts for cars, no plasticwares in your house, no more carpet, panty hose, 3M Thinsulate, plastic bottles, tooth brushes, cable and wire insulation, and so on.

        The electronics industry will go away. All electronics including TVs, DVD players, computers and thousands of more things I’m not thinking of right now. All of it gone or priced beyond reach for all but the super rich.

        In fact, there won’t be any cars to talk about. Almost every part of the car is either derived from petroleum or processed using petroleum derivatives. That includes the metal and glass components.

        You have no idea what kind of impact your words have on our fundamental way of life. If what you are saying is *really* true, the changes far exceed the relatively minor discussion we’re having now about alternatives to fossil fuels.

        Yet nobody seems to be singing the swan song for any of these other products right now. Could it be that they really aren’t afraid of petroleum and LNG vanishing in the next couple hundred years?

        I asked for *evidence* to back your statement that “this is the way it will be one day.” All I got back was a vague assertion. Please provide the evidence, if you really do know that what you’re saying is true. And I hope your source isn’t some politician or his lapdog in the liberal news media.

      3. Quercus says:

        Michael: You are completely right about the many uses of oil — that’s why as prices rise we must not just burn it! And the fact the possible consequences are so huge is not a reason for it being impossible.

        I’d love to provide you with masses of evidence but I know from experience that when I try to post links that are considered ‘off topic’ the moderator deletes my post.

        However, here’s one link as proof. See whether it gets through: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/11/peak-oil-production-supply

        There’s lots more info if you search it out.

      4. Pat M says:

        Michael, no evidence is really required, it is a reality of the fossil fuel industry. Oil and coal are a finite resource and will eventually come to an end. No amount of critcizing alternative technology will change this. If we want to continue to ‘motor’ around in personal vehicles we will have to come up with an alternative method of fueling them, unless you believe there is an alternative source for crude oil none of the rest of us have heard of. Instead of bemoaning all the products we will lose when oil runs out (and yes, those products are ubiquitous in todays society) perhaps we should find that alternative fuel soon so that we can continue to use oil to produce those goods rather than setting fire to it to push our Hummers to the corner store for a loaf of bread. These alterntive technologies can be developed, unless you believe some politician co-opted by the big oil industry, or his lapdog in the right wing conservative news media.

      5. Michael C says:

        Quercus, I worked in the chemical industry for 15 years. I am well aware of what information is out there, which is why I dispute that oil is going away tomorrow. I was mostly interested in your source of information. As I mentioned above, the lapdog of liberal politicians.

        Pat M: “Michael, no evidence is really required…” This statement tells me more about you than the state of the industry.

      6. Quercus says:

        You don’t believe the American military, Michael?

        And you haven’t got the point. Oil is not going away, but it is the end of easy, cheap oil. From this point on the price starts rising at an accelerating rate.

      7. Pat M says:

        Michael, I guess you believe there is an infinite supply of oil then….

      8. DonSimón says:

        [mod]: it is unlikely that in the event of a gradual depletion of oil reserves that industry would suffer. Given that this is a fast approaching reality manufacturers of plastics in particular are moving way ahead of the curve. Industry will ALWAYS overcome, irrespective of what it is short of.

        There are plenty of sources on google that will give you a balanced view of the oil issue, it just depends how open minded you are to BOTH sides of the argument. Given that you’ve used the choice phrase ‘liberal lapdog’ I’m guessing your mind is already made up, which is really not the sign of an insatiable curiosity is it?

        It is probalby worth bearing in mind that cost efficient fusion is 30 years away. Given that desalination and fusion can be combined, this can be brought forward depending on the need for large scale desalination of drinking water (enourmous projects being undertaken in Israel and Southern Europe) so it really is conceivable that we will no longer see fossil fuels as the cheapest way of getting things done, oil shortage or not.

      9. Michael C says:

        @ DonSimón: I’m guessing your mind is already made up, which is really not the sign of an insatiable curiosity is it?

        Having worked in the chemical industry for 15 years (automotive plastic raw materials), why should I have an “insatiable curiosity” about something fundamental to the performance of my job? And we never used Google, the politician or the news media for industry info on primary feedstocks.

        Disliking my perspective is hardly a satisfactory reason to imply that I’m closed minded or ignorant of both sides of the argument. I just happen to think that your side is not presenting the facts fairly in order to promote a flawed, unnecessary and expensive agenda (EVs). But I didn’t find this to be an opportunity to call you closed minded. I’d just like to get my perspective on the table, which is what this type of forum is intended for.

        @ DonSimón: Given that this is a fast approaching reality manufacturers of plastics in particular are moving way ahead of the curve.

        Please do explain. What are the alternative feedstocks being considered for what types of plastics, and what are the obstacles to be overcome before they can be deployed in the market?

        In the area of alternate feedstocks for plastic raw materials, Chicken Little is not running around proclaiming that the sky is falling that I’m aware of. That’s why I feel that there is hypocrisy with the alternative fuel issue. Maybe you know something I don’t—it’s possible. But in 15 years, I never heard one automotive OEM ask our company to investigate alternate feedstocks for plastic raw materials.

        @ DonSimón: cost efficient fusion is 30 years away

        Source? I’m not sure anyone can reasonably make that assertion at this point. But I’m not an expert in nuclear fusion, so you may know something I don’t.

      10. Jonas says:

        “Some of the best engineers on the planet have been working on EV technology since the 1800s and the problems are the same today as they were then.”

        This is not true, EVs were before internal combustion engine running at like 10km/h speed for an hour. Now there are EV cars that can run at 100 km/h for 5 hours.
        No one seriously worked on EV until like 5 years ago, since there was no need to work on, because there was plenty of cheap oil which is not the case now.
        There is only 40 years of oil left at this consumption rate, thats the reality, so after that either people won’t drive at all or they will drive EVs.
        Battery capacity more than doubled in last 10 years, theoretical potential for battery capacity is 10-15 times more. Currently 1 kg of battery leads to 1 km of drive range with normal driving, so imagine if its 10 km, or in other words one day in distant future 300 kg battery will be enough to drive 3000 km.

      11. Michael C says:

        “No one seriously worked on EV until like 5 years ago”

        This is simply not true. It is true that EVs have gotten greater attention since the ‘90s.

        Nonetheless, the point is irrelevant since the single greatest obstacle to useful EVs is battery technology, which has continued to develop for countless other applications independently of the market’s interest in EVs. And despite the ongoing development of battery technology and its improvement over the last few decades, EVs still don’t work well unless supplemented by a gasoline internal combustion engine. That’s why nearly all supposed “EVs” on the market today are hybrids.

        “Battery capacity more than doubled in last 10 years”

        That’s a drop in the bucket compared to what EVs needs to perform relatively equivalent to a gas powered car. Again, the reason we have hybrids.

        “theoretical potential for battery capacity is 10-15 times more.”

        Please explain.

        “so imagine…”

        Sorry to be so combative, but the point of my participation in this forum is that I don’t want to imagine or theorize about EVs. Storing energy electrically has repeatedly proven expensive and impractical for use in automotive applications, so we’re left just to imagine and theorize as you say. Until the laws of physics change, this isn’t going to change anytime soon.

        “There is only 40 years of oil left at this consumption rate, thats the reality…”

        Despite the rhetoric in the news media, this is a highly debatable point that’s about as objectively provable as global warming.

    2. Duane says:

      Agreed. I love F1 & I will love formula ‘e’ too. I want an electric car!

  5. Bruce says:

    An interesting article article, James. It would be interesting to find out how long the batteries would take to charge. Would they arrive at the circuit charged or be charged at the circuit? Your article says the noise made would be more akin to a jet engine, but surely it would still be very quiet? Most race fans like to hear the noise a mechanical engine makes as it can be heard on TV, so how would the silent electric series be heard?
    And presumably there would only be one race per meeting as the batteries wouldn’t be able to be charged or would the competitors bring more batteries for a second race?
    I have to say that the more noise an engine makes the better for me!

    1. jonrob says:

      Well one company I worked for, used to employ up to 300HP electric motors on our machines and you could not hear yourself think near them.
      Electric motors are not silent, they would be more efficient if they were though.

      1. Duane says:

        Correct! I work with electric motors everyday – not silent. I think this formula will be really fun to watch develop & will be a great test bed for real world applications – auto mfgs would be crazy to miss out on the opportunity.

  6. Andrew Carter says:

    I wonder if I’m the only one that has absolutely no interest in watching any of these electric series. All the details I’ve so far seen suggest they’ll all be slow and lifeless, and probably one-make as well wich is rarely a good thing.

  7. Matt says:

    Can’t see the sense in an EV sprint series – surly to make racing practicable to advancing road car technology it needs to be in the area of endurance and performance under adverse conditions, not quick discharge in conditions completly unlike normal road use.

    Having any aero down force on an EV is completely against its purpose.

    Also this is another step in blindsiding other alternatives which may be fair easier to introduce on mass.

  8. Michael C says:

    I’m just waiting for all the armchair engineers to start regurgitating the praises of this over 150 year old, problem riddled technology. EVs are hardly the wave of the future—they’re a string of past (and ongoing) failures. Modern EVs are plagued by the very same issues they have suffered from since the EV was invented in the mid-1800s. EVs have no place in the future of F1.

  9. Phil says:

    I can only hope the FIA don’t spend there time directing this formula. They need to give the cars a few physical parameters, like 4 wheels only + sizes and safety systems, then let imaginations run free! The fastest way to move this technology forward is to have no rules, so long as the budgets don’t blow out, which they might do!

  10. John Shaw says:

    I know all this is very P.C. and even interesting to some I guess, but I find it very hard to to get enthused. Even the performance figures don’t help, what ever they are! The problem for me is that F1 is the pinnacle, not just because of the drivers, the manufacturers, the history and so on. Its just as much about the brute power of mechanical engines, cylinders, crankshafts, valves bouncing up and down at un-imaginable speeds, the smell, the noise and the pure violence of fossil fuel engines. Electric is the future and I can except that but it will never be motor sport future as we have known it.

  11. Jo Torrent says:

    Ket sentence ” this huge 300Kg battery pack only provides the same amount of mechanical energy “at the wheels” as approximately 12 litres of fuel.”

    Still a long way to go. As Bigeot said Battery technology is the key. When computers can work 48 hours without recharging & smart phones a whole week, this technology will start making sense for racing.

    1. Alex W says:

      not as simple as that, remember, most of the fuel used in an F1 car ends up heating the brakes! A fossil fuel car can’t turn the momentum at the end of the straight back into petrol, an electric car can change the momentum back into fuel for the next straight….

    2. Brisbane Bill says:

      I think this is the critical point. 300kg = 12 litres of fossil fuel. What we haven’t had so far in the past two centuries is the kind of technology race into alternate fuels that F1 egineers apply to F1 development. Turn them over to finding alternate energy drives for F1 cars and they have a double imperative – not only to win F1 races but think about the revenue they would raise by applying their technology to commercial applications.

      Petrol engines haven’t really become any more efficient in the past 50 years so you can assume that we have taken that technology pretty much as far as it can go and, given the oil and polution situations, the race should be on to find more efficient alternatives.

      I am not sure batteries are the way to go, so let’s no limit a new formula to this technology. The cost and environmental impact to build a battery, recharge it with electricity (perhaps there could be a stipulation that teams only recharge them using environmentally friendly portable generation equipment and not from the electricity grid) and dsipose of the not-so-environmentally-friendly waste should have us looking at other possibilities. Not sure what they are but let the best technical brains loose on it and you might come up with some surprising results.

      1. James Allen says:

        Surely petrol engines have become much more efficient in recent years for a given cc ?

      2. Ben Jenks says:

        According to wikipedia the maximum efficiency you can physically get from a combustion engine is around 37% (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internal_combustion_engine#Energy_efficiency) and most real-world engines operate at the 20% level. This is a fundamental limit based on the laws of Thermodynamics so you can’t engineer yourselves out of that one! On the other hand I think electric motors approach 90% efficiency.

  12. Eduan says:

    They must be careful of “shorting” while cornering!

    I think the idea is good but it will take a lot of development to get to the level that F1 is currently producing. Maybe Electric F1 is where Schumacher can set new records!

  13. Jon Wilde says:

    An open “E” series would be an excellent addition the the F1 support bill, it wouldn’t be too tough to add a couple of 20 minute races into the schedule on Saturday and Sunday. I’m sure most people wouldn’t mind it replacing the Porsche SuperCup.

    “EV” might not be high on Bernie’s agenda right now, but it is for sponsors, fans, the media and manufacturers, this surely is the logical way forward.

    (that said the FondMetal car looks shocking, why not put the batteries in the side pods?)

  14. Nick Young says:

    I can understand limiting the size of the battery, by why limit the maximum power output? Surely if this is to push the EV tech forwards engineers need to be encouraged to continually do more with less – if they can get more juice from the same size battery to gain a competitive advantage surely they should be allowed to?

    1. vancouver j says:

      Exactly.

      This is just a proposal but it seems to be just the type of awful idea that the FIA would come up with. Limits on every possible detail including power output, weight distribution, types of motors and drive allowed, tire sizes, etc.

      If the only limits were car width and the crash protection for the driver imagine and the engineers could do whatever they wanted what a fascinating series this could be. Like the early days of F1. 2wd vs 4wd. 6 wheel cars.

      If there is only one type of car how interesting is that?

  15. Glynn Harrold says:

    I do wonder why the Formula is going to be using battery technology. A better method would be a Hydrogen Fuel Cell. The limitations of using a battery (high weight, low range, not to mention the materials that go into making the battery) must mean that this really has a limited life in the electric car world. Imaging what can be achieved with a HFC car if F1 engineers were let lose on it.

    1. Michael C says:

      “Imaging what can be achieved with a HFC car if F1 engineers were let lose on it.”

      I wouldn’t be so optimistic. The energy density of liquid hydrogen is 270 BTU/ft3 compared to gasoline’s 920 BTU/ft3. This means that to store the same amount of energy, an HFC fuel cell would have to store over 3x the amount of H2 by volume, so obviously the car would larger and much heavier. If this weren’t a significant engineering obstacle, we’d be doing it already. As it stands, the HFC was invented in the 1800s and we’re still not using it.

      Another problem is that H2 doesn’t really exist anywhere. You have to *produce* the fuel first (usually done using coal or nuclear generated power), unlike gasoline which is merely *processed* from an already existing hydrocarbon.

      1. jonrob says:

        I believe the Fuel cells run at a high temperature too. There is one car in the USA running on a fuel cell.

      2. Glynn Harrold says:

        Thanks for the info on the energy of Hydrogen Vs Petroleum. I didn’t know that. But how does the power and duration to weight of a HFC car differ to that of an Battery car? (I don’t expect you to answer, it’s more of a general question).

        With regards to your other point. You also have to *produce* the electricity to charge a battery car. My comparison was HFC vs Battery, not Petrol.

        Cheers

      3. Michael C says:

        Storing energy chemically is always superior to storing it electrically. But this type of comparison is difficult to make because it’s always apples to oranges—how big of a battery vs. what size fuel cell, etc. Presently, the market isn’t satisfied with either solution. The electric has poor range and performance. The HFC will have no trunk.

        Yes, you must “produce” the fuel for both types making each more efficient.

      4. Michael C says:

        Typo. Make that “inefficient” in the last sentence above. My point is that as a system, both electric and HFC are inefficient compared to fossil fuel. There will always be sacrifices.

      5. Jonas says:

        What you are saying is ridiculous, you can not put liquid hydrogen into a car, because it has to be kept at extremely low temperature which is impossible to do safely in a car, what you can do is just pressurize hydrogen but energy density of this pressurized hydrogen is even worse than a battery. You can google this…

  16. Ryan says:

    The electric car died already. A premature and ugly death.

    LNG. The known reserves will outlast our great grand childrens lifetimes.

    But im not a politician so what would a hick like me from NW Australia know about any of this…

    1. Quercus says:

      Most of ‘reserves’ of fossil fuels (including LNG) sound great on a company or country’s ‘books’ — but in reality they’re often very difficult and dangerous to extract. They might be exploited eventually but only when the cost of oil rises above $200/barrel or so (it’s at $100/barrel at the moment).

      Imagine how those sort of prices will impact on society — just think, for instance, how much fossil energy is embodied in the food you eat. Food represents 50% of an ordinary family’s income in many of the countries F1 visits.

      We’re in a time of great change of which energy vulnerability is a significant element. F1 needs to do its bit — not carry on as if nothing’s different.

    2. Aaron95 says:

      How on earth do you come to that conclusion? The electric car in terms of something that has batteries and is plugged in to recharge may be a very long way off, but electric powered vehicles either in the form of a hybrid or an electric motor powered by physical fuel such as fuel cells is far from a distant possibility. Oil may be a long way from running out, but as the price of oil rises alternative power sources are going to become more economic.

  17. The other Ian says:

    Why does it have to be battery powered?
    I agree with James May of Top Gear,use Hydrogen Fuel cell technology instead. Take hydrogen, combine it with oxygen from the atmosphere, and voilà you have electricity. No need for heavy batteries. James May demonstrated a car using this technology in one of the previous Top Gear episodes.
    Just a thought.

    1. Fuel cells require platinum electrodes, which means they are stupidly expensive. Sure, they can fill a car up with hydrogen, but you’ll need a million-dollar fuel cell to work the way you want it.

      If they went the hydrogen route, they’d be better off to use BMW technology and use it as a fuel in a combustion engine.

      1. jonrob says:

        There is so much platinum deposited on our roads now from Catalytic converters that there are plans to recover it from the road.
        This is in parallel with recovery of gold and silver from ground up mobile phones, computers, tvs etc This is now considerably cheaper than mining it (apparently, according to QI)

      2. Cheaper doesn’t mean cheap.

        Also, a business is a business… even if it only costs X amount to pick it up off the roads, you then have to consider how you want to use it. Do you want to make a little bit of money making fuel cells, or make a lot of money selling it in platinum bars to jewellers and the like?

        It’s not necessarily the cost of retrieval, but also the value of the material. Businesses want to make money, so they’ll sell that platinum however they can to maximize profits.

        I can’t see them giving up that profit just to make fuel cells.

    2. Michael C says:

      “No need for heavy batteries.”

      But there is a need for a huge fuel tank. HFC vehicles can go about 1/3 the distance of their gasoline powered equivalents on a per-liter of fuel basis. That means that you’d have to store 3x the fuel used in today’s F1 cars, or shorten the race by 2/3.

      This problem is not a matter of design immaturity—it’s a physics problem caused by H2’s very low specific gravity and energy density compared to gasoline.

      And don’t forget that H2 as a fuel doesn’t exist until you generate it.

      I don’t see EVs or HFCs being a viable technology for F1 any time soon.

  18. Hendo says:

    Make ‘em run on bar-treads – you can hear an old Land-Rover coming for miles!!

  19. Tom Haythornthwaite says:

    I think this is important and I look forward to the day when 20 minute Formula E races feature on F1 Sundays. Once we’ve sorted Bernie out.

    The series should *definitely* be an open championship with manufacturers competing, rather than a single-make series.

  20. simon mawdsley says:

    What about the hydrogen fuel cell which James May seemed to think was the future? i see some London buses are also using this concept. Has this now fallen out of favour?

  21. Rodger says:

    Anything that spins at high enough revolutions to propel a car to 260kph is going to make some noise.

    Will it be the same, or as loud as a V8/10/12 ICE? Of course not, but I think people put too much on the sound of the engines contribution to the overall experience. Most people will only ever see an F1 race on television, and not get the full effect of a screaming V12 anyway.

    As far as the cost goes. While no proper race car is cheap, I think following the changes coming to Indy cars next season could be a good idea. A basic chassis that the teams can adapt their own motors, and aero devices to. Teams can either develop their own aero packages, or select one from a couple of different companies that are slated to produce aero kits.

    That could give a good mix of affordability, and opportunity to push the tech forward.

  22. Fuel cells are about a million dollars per, due to the large amount of platinum required for the electrodes.

    Until platinum becomes cheap, fuel cells aren’t viable.

    1. Jeff says:

      Platinum content in fuel cells, and hence fuel cell cost, continues to reduce. There are also research projects going on with alternatives to platinum (e.g. Carbon Nanotubes). There’s more than one way to fuel cell viability.

      The hydrogen fuel cycle is rather inefficient when compared with a battery powered vehicle though. In order to move a car, you have to:
      1) Obtain fuel from some source,
      2) generate power from that fuel,
      3) transport that power to the hydrogen station
      4) use it to electrolyze hydrogen,
      5) transfer it to the vehicle,
      6) pass it through the fuel cell to generate electricity, then
      7) Finally convert it to motive power at the wheels.

      If you use a battery, there are less steps in the process.
      1) Obtain fuel from some source
      2) Generate power from that fuel,
      2) transport it to the destination
      3) transfer it to the vehicle (charge the battery)
      4) Convert it to motive power at the wheels.

      The result is that battery vehicles will probably always have better ‘Well to wheel’ efficiency than their fuel cell equivalents.

      The main problem with battery powered EVs is the limited range, and the time taken to recharge. Battery-swap stations are probably the nearest term technology to solve issues of taking battery EVs on long trips.

      Given the current state of battery technology, a sprint race series is probably more practical than an endurance series. Having said that, an endurance series with battery-change pitstops may stimulate development of some interesting strategies for battery-pack changes and / or better, longer-range batteries.

      There’s a lot of truth in the old adage ‘Racing improves the breed’. A MotoCzysz narrowly missed out on a 100mph lap of the TT course in this year’s TT zero race with a top speed of about 150mph. The lap speed is up from 87mph just 2 years ago at the first electric TT race I would love to see electric racing take off on both two and four wheels.

      There are plenty of challenges, but engineering challenges breed engineering solutions. Let’s get racing and see where it leads.

      1. Michael C says:

        Unless you can eliminate fossil fuels from step 1 in either case, you’ve accomplished nothing positive while succeeded in building a heavier, slower car with short range. And neither of these processes is as energy efficient as burning a fossil fuel to produce kinetic energy directly. Ie,

        1) Obtain fuel from some source
        2) Convert it to motive power at the wheels.

      2. Large power plants, even if they are coal-powered, are incredibly efficient and would provide much less emissions than a lot of smaller cars generating power from their little engines.

        It would be a positive step, as efficiency is increased overall.

        Also, electricity can be generated in many ways, and not all of them rely on coal or other fossil fuels.

      3. Michael C says:

        Malcolm, please re-read his post and mine. We’re not talking about the mere generation of energy, but its transfer, storage and application. My point is that with 5 extra steps, the *process* is less efficient.

        Also, what alternate ways of generating electricity do you have in mind? The world is running away from nuclear. Kinetic sources are both limited and potentially destructive to the environment. Solar energy output is totally insufficient and the production of solar panels environmentally destructive.

      4. Jeff says:

        A more fair comparison with a petrol vehicle would be.
        (1) Obtain fuel from some source
        (2) Refine it into petrol
        (3) Transport it from the refinery to the pump
        (4) Transfer it to the vehicle
        (5) Convert it into motive power at the wheels.

        Also consider that the efficiency of step 5 in a modern petrol engine is about 20%, and the equivalent efficiency of an electric drivetrain is about to 80%

        The Well to wheel efficiency of a petrol vehicle is comparable with a fuel cell vehicle, but much lower than that of a pure electric vehicle.

        Even if we get 1/7th of our energy from Solar, and perhaps another 1/7th from Wind and wave power, and another 1/7th from more efficient use of the current electricity generation capacity already in existence, that’s almost twice as good as continuing to use a dwindling fossil fuel resource in inefficient dinosaur burners.

        Jeff

      5. Michael C says:

        Jeff: “A more fair comparison with a petrol vehicle would be…”

        I’ll give you that. One problem with this analysis is that many of these steps are difficult to quantify. Some of the processes are shared with other products/uses. Some have practically no hit on efficiency. But interesting considerations.

        I had a thought while considering this. Efficiency is only a *vital* concern with EVs and HFCs because of two major problems: (1) the difficulty of generating the energy required to power a vehicle (both EVs and HFCs) and then converting that into fuel (H2 for HFCs), and (2) the relative inability of EVs and EFCs to store adequate energy to power the vehicle compared to petrol cars.

        With petrol cars, we still talk about efficiency and it is somewhat important, but it doesn’t control the system. Most of us drive a vehicle that is larger and more powerful than our basic needs require. The system is so energy rich that efficiency is only a matter of cost reduction for those who care.

        So I wonder whether this talk about EVs being more efficient than petrol cars is even necessary.

        “Also consider that the efficiency of step 5 in a modern petrol engine is about 20%, and the equivalent efficiency of an electric drivetrain is about to 80%”

        Do you have a source I could reference?

      6. Jeff says:

        Regarding the efficiency of a modern petrol engine, the source was http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engine_efficiency#Gasoline_.28petrol.29_Engines

        “Modern gasoline engines have an average efficiency of about 18% to 20% when used to power a car. In other words, of the total heat energy of gasoline, about 80% is ejected as heat from the exhaust, as mechanical sound energy, or consumed by the motor (friction, air turbulence, heat through the cylinder walls or cylinder head, and work used to turn engine equipment and appliances such as water and oil pumps and electrical generator), and only about 20% of the fuel energy moves the vehicle.”

        Regarding electric drivetrains, after a bit more research, I think my original efficiency rating quote may have been about 10% high.

        Quoting the electric motors wikipedia page, referencing the Brushless AC motors that are the typical motor of choice in modern EV applications, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_motor#Brushless_DC_motors).

        “Brushless motors are typically 85–90% efficient or more (higher efficiencies for a brushless electric motor, of up to 96.5%, were reported by researchers at the Tokai University in Japan in 2009),”

        Let’s give a conservative estimate of 85% for motor efficiency. You also have to consider the power amplifier that converts the battery voltage to the motor drive current. A well designed three-phase switching power amplifier can operate at about 90% efficiency, so that must be multiplied by the motor efficiency.

        There are also some losses with the batteries themselves. The Wikipedia page for Lithium Ion polymer batteries quotes a charging efficiency of 99.8% for these cells, but in the absence of any supporting references for this quoted number, I’m going to knock that down to about 90% to keep things conservative. If we multiply 85% by 90% by 90%, we get an efficiency for an electric drive system of approximately 69%, so let’s call it 70% to keep a round number. Still a lot better than 20%, and with a few technological advances, 80%-90% efficient drivetrains are probably achievable.

      7. Jeff says:

        I did find a reasonably reputable reference quoting charge / discharge efficiency of 99% for a Lithium Iron Phosphate battery.

        http://www.evoncorp.com/?q=node/5

        This would improve the total efficiency of our system up to about 76%.

        “So I wonder whether this talk about EVs being more efficient than petrol cars is even necessary.”

        Efficiency is very necessary to the EV argument. Granted, one positive impact of electric motive power is that you can use power generated from any number of different sources. It allows us to use renewable energy for vehicular transport, breaking the dead dinosaur link. We aren’t that energy rich. Fossil fuels are a finite resource, and we’re going to run out of them some time.

        Even by the best estimates, however, renewable energy is only part of any future energy strategy, and is likely to account for less than 30% of our energy needs. If EVs don’t also improve how efficiently we use up fossil fuels, what’s the point? One of my problems with fuel cells is that we aren’t making any gains in energy efficiency over a gasoline engine. Sure, it’s cool technology, but if the source of that energy is a fossil-fueled power station which also pollutes, what have you gained?

        Jeff

  23. darren Willis says:

    For those obsessed with pronouncing battery technology dead on arrival (and EV racing series along with it) the linked article on Cambridge Crude (http://www.forbes.com/sites/williampentland/2011/06/10/sludge-battery-breakthrough-at-mit-sparks-cambridge-crude-speculation/) might be of interest.

    It is fascinating what focus and investment can yield in advancing new ideas and solutions. You would think that a sport that is continually touted (by itself and its fans) as being the pinnacle of technology and innovation might find the opportunity to take a crack at a whole new thread of applied science and engineering to feel a little like kids at Christmas rather than being marched off to the gallows.

    What this attitude reveals is the innate conservatism of the sport and the impulse to protect current investments and revenue streams rather than imagine future ones.

    This conservatism also seems to be bundled nicely into the planning process for the new EV series. Sprint races? Come on!

    Until technology solutions like Cambridge Crude can be readied for real world testing, you would think that the least that planners of a new EV series could do would be to bring pitlane refueling back as a central feature racing. A series that encouraged batteries to be swapped when they ran low would present new design challenges and opportunities for races to be won and lost in the pit lane; keeping the whole team an integral part of the racing action and the pitlane remain a fascinating place to be.

  24. For sure says:

    0-100km/h in 3.2 seconds ? Thats like a Kf2 Kart.

  25. Kurt says:

    Unless the teams’ come equipped with a lot of batteries I would think that it would be incredibly difficult to accomodate all the sessions that would be required to run a competitive race weekend. More than 1 session a day would probably mean a requirement to swap the battery packs between sessions? I suppose it would depend on how quickly the batteries could be recharged.

    Friday Sessioned practice (x2?)
    Saturday Qualifying
    Saturday Race
    Sunday Race

  26. lecho says:

    I don’t get the concept of turning Formula 3 into an electric formula while the whole idea of the junior formula is to prepare drivers for Formula 1. Now how can you prepare to drive a rear-wheel 700bhp car while driving four-wheeled 270bhp electric vehicle?

    1. They just want to match F3 performance, not replace the formula.

      Also, seeing that F3 cars have approximately 200 bhp, your argument of a 270 bhp car not preparing drivers for F1 seems a little hollow. Sure, there’s the difference between AWD and RWD, but at the 200-300 bhp level, you honestly wouldn’t notice a difference in the dry as those cars couldn’t spin those rear slick tires if they wanted to.

      1. lecho says:

        The huge difference between an electrical and petrol car is the torque distribution – that’s my main point.

  27. Frank says:

    Several people have commented on why put a cap on power. I agree, put a cap on the battery weight and let the engineers sort out how to get the most out of them. If car speeds start getting into the dangerous zone increase the race distance or reduce the max weight of the batteries. Also, don’t limit the battery tech. If someone can make capacitive nano-tubes work, then GREAT! Saying “make the most out of X” is an interesting engineering problem and will push the tech forward, saying “you can only achieve Y” stifles truly creative innovations. Look at F1, it used to be that we’d see the tech (VTec, abs, traction control, etc ) make it into production cars, but now all the research is into aero and fine tuning engines that fundamentally haven’t changed in 10 years that is useless to production cars.

    As for the noise, that is a signature of F1 as we know it. But so is the aero, when wings first started appearing on cars how many people decried the end of the sport and how they didn’t want to go watch airplanes flying upside-down on roads. The sport moved on, maybe lost some fans along the way, and never looked back. I would love to see F1 allow unlimited regenerative braking, no limit on how much KERS you have. Let the engineers loose – the better they make it the better my car will be. If power/speed becomes a safety issue, limit the weight of fuel allowed for the race. Yes, this will shift the cars to a more “green” tech, but it will be a natural evolution over time (which will happen one way or another). Without artificial constraints, and with huge potential to translate into tech that one day I will be able to use in my car.

    Don’t put artificial limits on tech (only can use KERS for 6 seconds per lap, only can have 200 watts of power, etc). Put limits that keep the cars in the sane/safe range, but allow the tech to move forward.

    1. Agree 100%.

      Pretty much what I’ve been thinking/saying since KERS was first introduced, sadly as a push-to-pass gimmick.

    2. vancouver j says:

      +1

      Agree totally. It would be so arrogent for the rule makers to think they know best how to solve this engineering challenge.

      Why turn the engineers into rule loophole finders from the start when they could be coming up with new solutions.

  28. DB says:

    Love the idea!

    But making it a single supplier series would be against the idea of pushing new technology forward. Perhaps letting multiple teams by from two or three constructors could be a good way to start the series at a lower cost and still promote technological advancement.

  29. Matt Tanner says:

    Odd as it may seem one of the cutting edge industries for ev is radio controlled model aircraft which has had a revolution in the last 15 years. We now have very high charge and discharge rate lithium polymer cells, and very efficient brushless motors and controllers. The result is that internal combustion and electric choice is now a matter of preference rather than performance.
    I am very interested in the effect that the motor controllers will have on the dynamics of a 4wd electric car. Think nissan skyline but much much better.

    1. Michael C says:

      I’ve flown RC planes for years (both nitro and electric) and know what you’re talking about. But there is another important difference that applies to real-world EVs that you left out. Go electric and you must buy two extra batteries or wait 20-30 minutes between runs for charging. With nitro, there’s a reason they say “splash & go.” It only takes a minute to refill the tank and you’re off again.

      1. It only takes a minute to refill the little tank with nitro, but it also only takes a minute to replace the battery. This same principle could be applied to cars as well. Come in for a pit-stop and swap batteries. Done!

        You say “you must buy two extra batteries”, but you conveniently leave out that you must buy nitro every time you want to fly your plane, whereas you can just plug a battery charger into a wall socket.

        Your hollow arguments against any sort of EV are extremely frustrating, because your “evidence” is far from convincing, well thought-out or credible, and your conclusions are certainly exaggerated.

        “Still using fossil fuels” but conveniently leaving out that they are more efficiently used for energy production in a power plant than in an IC engine, and also ignoring alternative electricity production methods (hyrdo, nuclear, solar, wind, etc).

        “Low range” but ignoring advances to be made in technology, battery-swapping possibilities and alternative energy storage methods.

        “Heavy” but ignoring that technologies will improve over time, and encouraging this technology in F1 will push research and development in this area very hard.

        I don’t mind well-supported arguments that disagree with me… in fact, I prefer them over weak, half-baked arguments that agree with me.

      2. Michael C says:

        I don’t recall claiming that RC nitro cars and planes were a perfect analog to full scale. Please re-read my post without exaggerating my intentions for the sake of *your* argument.

        Regarding your battery swap idea, I encourage you to pursue your idea further. Google “EV battery” and you’ll find that it’s the single largest and heaviest component of any EV, integrated into the chassis in the lowest possible position. An EV battery swap is akin to a powertrain swap in a conventional car.

        All you need to do is come up with a presently non-existent small, light and powerful EV battery to make it work.

        But until that happens, neither will swapping.

      3. Michael C says:

        “Your hollow arguments against any sort of EV are extremely frustrating.”

        Don’t confuse getting an answer you don’t like with getting a bad answer. I have argued the following. Tell me which of these assertions is false or misleading:
        • The EV was invented before the otto cycle IC engine. EVs aren’t “new,” “innovative” or even under-developed.
        • EVs have suffered from poor performance, limited range and high cost since inception for fundamental reasons related to physics and chemistry.
        • Storing energy electrically is by nature significantly less effective than storing it chemically.
        • H2 as a fuel has two significant setbacks: (1) Its energy density and specific gravity require an HFC car to store 3x as much fuel as a gasoline equivalent; (2) H2 is not an available fuel until it’s produced from some enormous electrical power source.
        • Since 75% of the world’s electrical energy production is fueled by coal or natural gas, switching to an EV now isn’t a step away from fossil fuels. Instead, it introduces 4-5 more steps in the *total process* from energy production to application, reducing the efficiency of the *overall system*.
        • Our way of living in every category is dependent upon petroleum-based products, yet only EVs as an alternate to conventionally fueled cars has achieved pet project status among liberal politicians and their lapdog, the news media.
        • We are not really running out of oil or LNG in this lifetime or the next.

        @Malcolm: “‘Still using fossil fuels’ but conveniently leaving out that they are more efficiently used for energy production in a power plant than in an IC engine.”

        You are leaving something out, not me. We’re talking about an *entire system* here, not merely the point of energy production. Re-read my comments on this topic.

        And please also explain why energy production in a power plant is more efficient than in an IC engine.

        @Macolm: “and also ignoring alternative electricity production methods (hyrdo, nuclear, solar, wind, etc).”

        I did not ignore this. You didn’t read what I wrote.

        @Malcolm: “ignoring advances to be made in technology” … “battery-swapping possibilities” “ignoring that technologies will improve”

        These non-existent technologies are not facts that can argue for any point. They may support your EV dream, but I don’t want to contribute my tax dollars to fund them. If you want to develop an EV, spend your own money. That really is the bottom line, isn’t it?

      4. Jeff says:

        Michael – there are plausible financial models for a battery swap based range extender, even with present battery technology.

        e.g. When you buy the car, you buy it without battery. You lease the battery from Acme Battery swap stations for an annual fee. That fee allows you to swap batteries at a station whenever required (for a small fee each time). If your battery totally fails, it’s replaced under your lease agreement with a free tow to the nearest station. Acme charging stations manages the batteries when they die.

        You don’t need small, unfeasibly light battery. You need a standardised installation / removal method that is compatible with a load handling system, and a reliable interconnection method for the battery power terminals (and any support electronics).

      5. Finally, you explain yourself. While some of your arguments don’t contain much evidence, at least you explained a bit.

        - The EV was invented before the otto cycle IC engine. EVs aren’t “new,” “innovative” or even under-developed.
        – Define “under-developed”. This statement is largely irrelevant, and sounds like those who said airplanes were impossible because there are simply “things that are not meant to fly”. Also, it is ignorant to say that since EVs have been around since before ICE cars, that the technology should have surpassed it if it was “meant to be”; the development of EVs requires the development of batteries (or other energy storage devices), which relies on other technologies being developed. Your favourite argument is that EVs were around in the 1800s, but don’t you think that battery, motor and other related technologies have improved?

        - EVs have suffered from poor performance, limited range and high cost since inception for fundamental reasons related to physics and chemistry. Storing energy electrically is by nature significantly less effective than storing it chemically. H2 as a fuel has two significant setbacks: (1) Its energy density and specific gravity require an HFC car to store 3x as much fuel as a gasoline equivalent; (2) H2 is not an available fuel until it’s produced from some enormous electrical power source.
        – I can agree to that. It isn’t as efficient. The cars will be heavier and have less range. But do we want to keep just burning fuel in our IC engines until the earth is ridiculously polluted? Each area where we can reduce pollution is a good thing. If it means having a less efficient car, then so be it. Turbos make engines more efficient, but I don’t see them on every car on the road. Brings us to the next point…

        - Since 75% of the world’s electrical energy production is fueled by coal or natural gas, switching to an EV now isn’t a step away from fossil fuels. Instead, it introduces 4-5 more steps in the *total process* from energy production to application, reducing the efficiency of the *overall system*.
        – It’s closer to 65% of the world’s electrical energy production. In certain countries, like France, it’s less than 10%. If we move away from fossil fuels for energy production, then we are significantly closer to having much cleaner air in cities.

        - Our way of living in every category is dependent upon petroleum-based products, yet only EVs as an alternate to conventionally fueled cars has achieved pet project status among liberal politicians and their lapdog, the news media.
        – Ah, the political bias steps in. Damn those bleeding-heart liberals. Don’t want to be “up to our ears in owls, and out of work for every American”.

        - We are not really running out of oil or LNG in this lifetime or the next.
        – So? Inconsequential. Just because we have lots of it doesn’t mean we should be using it. Whether it runs out tomorrow or in the year 3129, pollution is pollution.

        - And please also explain why energy production in a power plant is more efficient than in an IC engine.
        – Coal-fired plants are around 33% efficient, Combined-cycle plants are around 50% efficient and IC engines are around 30% efficient. Of course, I am not advocating that we build lots of coal plants to increase the supply to meet the demand, but if we were smart about it and installed many other smaller plants, efficiencies would be increased and losses such as line-losses would be reduced (as would dependency on single-source plants as in North America where the grid system is prone to failure if a major plant goes down). It’s not a simple answer, but it would be better to do the necessary work to figure out the best answer, rather than “well, we’re burning fuel either way, so why bother?”

        - @Malcolm: “and also ignoring alternative electricity production methods (hyrdo, nuclear, solar, wind, etc).” I did not ignore this. You didn’t read what I wrote.
        – I just read that “everyone is running away from nuclear”. Isn’t the case in Canada. So far only a handful of countries are aiming to get rid of nuclear power over the next 10 years. Also, in the region where I live, a good chunk of power comes from hydro (enough that people actually refer to power as “hydro” around here); if we adopted EVs, even if there were no advantages to using central power plants over energy production in IC engines, due to the large portion of hyrdo power supplying our electrical sockets, it would result in a greener technology overall. Wind farms are touch-and-go, with the ones implemented by engineers being much more effective than ones implemented by politicians. Still, there are areas where there is a prevailing wind that can be taken advantage of. Same goes with solar. I haven’t heard of anyone running away from solar. Just a reminder: solar isn’t limited to PV cells. Last I checked, reflecting light to boil water and using a steam turbine is pretty green.

        - @Malcolm: “ignoring advances to be made in technology” … “battery-swapping possibilities” “ignoring that technologies will improve” These non-existent technologies are not facts that can argue for any point. They may support your EV dream, but I don’t want to contribute my tax dollars to fund them. If you want to develop an EV, spend your own money. That really is the bottom line, isn’t it?
        – Fair enough, but where did I say “we need to pour in tax-payer dollars” into this? We’re talking about Formula One here. You really are concerned about where your tax dollars go, aren’t you? Is that your bottom line? I guess the next topic will be that you don’t want your tax dollars going toward healthcare because that will only help other people and won’t help you as much. This is the major problem with many peoples’ frame of mind; they are selfish and think that if something doesn’t directly benefit them personally, then their tax dollars shouldn’t be spent on it. You need to realize that we’re turning into a global community and that a global economy has existed for quite some time. Sometimes your tax dollars need to be spent on research that will not only help you. That said, I don’t think Red Bull, McLaren or Ferrari will be seeing any of your tax dollars, so you don’t have to worry.

        - “I worked in the chemical industry for 15 years.”
        – That explains a lot of your resistance. I worked for a mining engineering firm for a year, and it was amazing the amount of positive spin you’d hear about all the benefits of stripping materials out of the earth… and how “evil” it was when the Canadian government wanted to enforce Canadian laws on Canadian mining companies working abroad. Evil, of course, because profits were diminished due to more stringent safety practices being required. The point is, any industry puts a great spin on their product, and you got caught up in the chemical industry hype.

        As I said, I don’t mind answers that disagree… just back it up with evidence or a decent argument.

  30. Westy says:

    James, you say that Migeot designed the high-nosed Tyrrell but from what I can remember, the late Dr Harvey Postlethwaite was always credited with designing this car. Looking at websites, Migeot doesn’t seem to get much credit for his involvement, Dr Postlethwaite’s name always being linked to the Tyrrell 018 and the high-nosed 019. Is F1 history ignoring Migeot’s contribution as when you say he “designed the distinctive high nose Tyrrell” it sounds like he was responsible for this technical breakthrough?

    1. James Allen says:

      Harvey was the chief designer, Migeot was the aero man behind it and credited with the high nose concept

  31. DonSimón says:

    Thanks JA, great article, good to see them bringing something cutting edge to the table and I think it will be great for us all as motorsport fans.

  32. Evel says:

    I think Formula E is a great idea. I think they should run it as an open series so that constructors can come up with new innovations and developments quickly whilst competing against each other – in no ways should it be a spec series with only one constructor or the technology won’t move forward quickly enough. The formula can always introduce more regulations down the line.

    Formula One on the other hand should not have to go down the electric route, at least not yet.
    Whilst something like Formula E will be great for developing new technologies that can be passed onto road cars and I’d love nothing more than for our road cars to become enviromentally friendly with no greenhouse gas emissions, we must remember that Formula One is a sport and shouldn’t have to follow the same laws as road cars.
    For example if in 10 years all road cars are electric and we have have a wonderful exciting Formula E class in it’s own right but petrol engines are still the most exciting and powerful when it comes to racing, I see no reason why F1 can’t stick with petrol engines.
    As a sport it really wouldn’t contribute anything noticeable at all to global warning and we would have Formula E to pass down exciting Electric tech to the roadcar industry.

  33. CGM says:

    I don’t see an EV as a competitor to F1 and nothing in the article states or implies that that is the intention. Yes, F1 would be logically louder and the traditionalists would probably/possibly not be terribly interested in it but it would bring a whole new element to motor-racing. It’d bring-in a heap of new sponsors keen on being assosicated with it plus a heap of new engineers with new ideas. I think it’d be great, for example, to one day see EV races where one manufacturer has a “slow discharge” battery to last the whole race competing with another manufacturer who uses “fast-discharge” batteries than could maybe be slid in/out of the chassis at pitstops. Bring it on !

  34. rolf123 says:

    Having watched that Toyota Nurburgring video, I’m very excited about EV.

    Forget about it being a “vehicle” (no pun intended) for development – look at it as a new type of racing series that will demand a new style of driving – constant torque, gearless direct drive and energy regeneration – no more high revving exit wheelspin (or not as much) and possibly even a totally different approach to aerodynamics.

    Who cares if the batteries weight a massive amount – does anyone care that the mileage of your typical F1 car is abysmal?

    I can’t wait to see cars like that Toyota built Radical EV car duking it out to see who can tame the beast of electric power the best. And with the sound of the engine blocked out and environmental awareness increased, not only could new skills be realised but I’ll bet that some existing petrolheads won’t have the balls to drive an EV car as fast as they would a gasoline version.

  35. Frank_another one says:

    James Allen, i think this article is dangerous to F1 as generating talk to promot a new series which encourages engineers to limitless designs and concepts will turn over all the F1 fan’s (like me) who have that feeling F1 has been missing something special since the aero era turned up and engine development was frozen.

    fan’s like to see development and growth through the year and having multiple manufacturers involved in different technologies to achieve the same goal is exciting.

    if a formula E was to take off, manufacturers like Toyota and Honda and maybe GM (who have huge R&D budgets already) will be using this as they play ground to use the technology back in the road going cars.

    Die hard fans who already enjoy F1 will always stay with F1. But just wait and see how many fans will change categories for the excitement of knowing that technology they see on the track is driving forward technologies that directly relate to enhancing the life of humans in the future.

    And personally, watching that TMG going round the nurburgring was the first time i’ve heard tyres screaching and jet engine sounds coming from the same vehicle – it rocked!

    1. James Allen says:

      Who says you have to follow only one series?

  36. Glenn says:

    Seems my previous post was deleted… no swearing, no personal attacks, no links???
    Basically I was against the idea of battery powered F1 cars and compared them to radio controlled toys. I apologise if that goes against the forum rules.

    1. James Allen says:

      No, not sure what happened to it – [mod]

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