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Posted on September 10, 2013

After much expectation, the Formula E car that will contest the new zero emissions racing series starting next September was launched today at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

The Spark-Renault SRT_01E is a fully electric single seater racing car, designed aerodynamically to encourage overtaking, is built by Dallara, with technology input from F1 teams McLaren and Williams. Spark, run by ART Grand Prix’s Cedric Vasseur, has designed the car and assembled a consortium of motorsport technology firms to supply key components.


McLaren produces the electric motor, which has been developed for the next McLaren road car, the P1, as well as the gearbox and electronics. While Williams is responsible for the supply of batteries and battery management systems, which will produce 200kw (270 brake horsepower).

The idea of Formula E is to promote electric vehicles, particularly to city dwellers, as the races will all take place in the centre of some of the world’s lading cities like London, Rio, Berlin, Los Angeles and Beijing.

There will be 10 teams, with two drivers each in the inaugural series which will kick off in September 2014.

The car will run on 18 in wheels with Michelin treaded tyres, the idea being minimum tyre use, so that one tyre works for dry and wet conditions.

“With Formula E being an open championship, the series gives manufacturers the opportunity to showcase their electrical energy innovations and we’re delighted to have Spark Racing Technology as the first, and for them to produce our new fully-electric Formula E car, ” said Formula E boss Alejandro Agag.

“Spark has enlisted the very best companies in motorsport to aid with its development, with Dallara, Renault, McLaren, Williams and Michelin all leaders in their respective fields.”

Peter van Manen, Managing Director of McLaren Electronic Systems, which makes the electronic control units for all current Formula 1 cars said, “These cars are going to be brilliant racing through the centres of cities. Electric motors deliver instant torque and acceleration and that is what McLaren is all about. Performance and efficiency. Our electric motor, developed originally for the McLaren P1, has the highest power-to-weight ratio in the world. McLaren is proud to provide the performance behind Formula E.”


  1.   1. Posted By: Matthew Green
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 10:57 am 

    hope tesla come and join the fun.

    Matt

    [Reply]

    I know Reply:

    This is not the right marketing platform for Tesla at all. However, I think manufacturers who still have to prove or boost their “e” credentials, and also have a history in motorsports, will find this very attractive – I am thinking of Mercedes, BMW, VW, Renault and Toyota in particular.

    [Reply]

    Ronnie Reply:

    Fully agreed. Just got my model S. It’s a rocket ship!

    Elon bought and crashed a McLaren. I can imagine how easy it is for him to be attracted to this. Hey, he’s a billionaire. Find someone to run his team! Musk Tesla (like William BMW once upon a time)- future winner of Formula E :-)

    [Reply]

    Ross (@current_e) Reply:

    Would love to see Tesla involved. And in the US, they’d then have Andretti vs Tesla. That would be some epic battle.

    [Reply]


  2.   2. Posted By: Proesterchen
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 10:58 am 

    This thing is butt-ugly, literally. And it’s got walrus fangs on its front wing.

    I’m sorry, but Dallara hasn’t designed a proper race car in decades. [mod].

    [Reply]

    PeteC Reply:

    Yep, from that angle it doesn’t look too hot. Other shots I’ve seen look quite ok though. Don’t forget that if other manufacturers enter we’ll see some design variations (depending on the flexibility of the regs of course).
    http://images.autosport.com/editorial/1372166157.jpg

    [Reply]

    Seán Craddock Reply:

    Is it not a spec series? I have the feeling all the cars will look the same like in IndyCar

    [Reply]

    David Reply:

    I’m not so sure about that. Clearly the “walrus fangs” are intended to counter the “dirty air”/loss of front downforce that impedes passing in F1.

    If that’s the price to pay for genuine racing in this fascinating and innovative series, then so be it. IMO, of course! YMMW. :)

    [Reply]

    Yak Reply:

    Actually I would think they’re to reduce the huge drag caused by the front wheels.

    [Reply]

    Quade Reply:

    Don’t make me question my taste, It looks quite good to me, its the current F1 cars that are damn ugly.

    [Reply]

    Ronnie Reply:

    I was shocked to see the Red Bull front wings at close range shots this past weekend with all the little fangs and snippets all over the place. It was like part of the Men in Black movie set. yikes!

    [Reply]

    AuraF1 Reply:

    Compared to the broken platypus nosed cars that besmirched the F1 tracks last year – this thing is a super model.

    [Reply]

    Seán Craddock Reply:

    The only thing I wonder is how much the front wing costs. If that gets knocked that could be a lot of money! F1 wings are around €100,000; these have a lot more to them

    [Reply]

    Thomas Reply:

    I’m not sure you know what “literally” means.

    [Reply]

    Jim:) Reply:

    still nowhere near as bad as current f1 cars, quite like the front wing, looks much more modern,still think the caparo t1 is the look f1 should be going for in the future, good looking clean lines,

    [Reply]

    I know Reply:

    This is only a prototype to get the series going. I also don’t think it looks great, but with all the aero features that would not be allowed in F1, it shows huge potential once the teams are allowed to develop their own chassis.

    Profiled tyres on a car like this look just wrong to my eyes – but I think it’s a sensible choice, because having slick and wet tyres would create unnecessary complications for the first season.

    [Reply]


  3.   3. Posted By: JR
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 11:03 am 

    Ugly little bugger

    [Reply]


  4.   4. Posted By: PeteC
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 11:10 am 

    Will the fans take to it though? If not this is going to be another ‘A1GP’.

    [Reply]

    adam Reply:

    I don’t think they will, we’ve had a few hybrid/electris races at the Australian F1 and you just see masses of people exciting the stands when they start the race.

    No one cares, they’re slow and boring, plus the only sound you get is the occasional tyre squeal. I gather they will have speakers under the bonnet to simulate an engine sound? otherwise it will be very quite and motorsport fans like smoke and noise.

    Just concentrate on making an electric car that can drive a long distance and can recharge without a powerpoint. I still think of the time I ran out fuel in the middle of the country, I managed to walk to a farm and get some fuel, if I had an electric car I would’ve needed a 1km extension cable.

    [Reply]

    Ross (@current_e) Reply:

    Don’t see why it wouldn’t generate a following. All the action is in a single day, in the middle of the city. Easy to get to, probably cheap to get in. The noise is actually pretty cool, but this isn’t F1. You don’t go an watch football and expect the players to create the atmosphere. The thousands of fans take car of that.

    [Reply]


  5.   5. Posted By: Racyboy
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 11:11 am 

    James,
    Have you heard any drivers names circulating for this series?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    They are targeting drivers like Kobayashi, Petrov, Alguersuari, Senna etc

    [Reply]

    Scott D Reply:

    Seriously, I would be amazed if any of the above took more a second look at this unless:

    a) they are otherwise unemployed and need the money/exposure, or
    b) they can dovetail the series with other racing commitments

    This to me is no more than an alternative junior series, as cars are seriously lacking in power and downforce.

    [Reply]

    Thomas Reply:

    I’m not sure power and downforce are as important since these will be raced exclusively on street circuits.

    I know Reply:

    Lacking downforce? I think they will have plenty of downforce, since the regulation allows for ground effect devices that are outlawed in F1. There is less power, but I think cornering speeds should at least be competitive.

    JB Reply:

    I’ll watch this because of Kobayashi! LOL

    [Reply]

    Thomas Reply:

    I think Kobayashi has already been involved with testing and/or exibitions. (unless I’m confusing with another driver/incident).

    Using former F1 drivers is a great idea since it will further entice racing fans to the sport. Maybe some former NASCAR/Indy drivers would be good to include to, for the same reason.

    [Reply]

    Ronnie Reply:

    Danica Patrick? Or Leilani Munter who already has a Tesla Model S

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leilani_Munter

    [Reply]

    enduro Reply:

    Jeez… I hope that this is just a rumor.
    Why should Kobi leave Le Mans racing for Ferrari?

    [Reply]


  6.   6. Posted By: Spyros
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 11:15 am 

    So it’s actually going to happen, then?

    [Reply]

    Matthew Green Reply:

    well , i wont believe it until i start to see mutiple teams testing somewhere ..

    dont get me wrong , i would love to see this take off .. but still very quiet i feel .. 2014 will approach very quickly !

    [Reply]

    Spyros Reply:

    My sentiments exactly.

    We still don’t know anything about likely drivers, apart from statements about this or that driver ‘being targeted’.

    Doesn’t sound particularly promising, despite some people’s best intentions.

    [Reply]


  7.   7. Posted By: Moog
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 11:27 am 

    Personally, I can’t wait for this series, very much looking forward to it and hope it gets decent coverage.

    Some of the ideas posted recently in a BBC website article on bringing the fans closer are pretty good too.

    /moog

    [Reply]

    chris green Reply:

    +1

    [Reply]


  8.   8. Posted By: Kevin
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 11:33 am 

    Electric motors, well, ok, maybe that could be interesting. Ugly spec chassis, treaded tires,,,,, I’ll not be watching. Good thing I’m not a city dweller, if they brought this series to my city I would be majorly inconvenienced. Maybe if they scheduled the race to coincide with rush hour it wouldn’t be such an imposition.

    Yawn

    [Reply]

    Lee Staples Reply:

    Nice open mind you have there….LOL

    [Reply]

    Thomas Reply:

    You’re writing it off because of styling and… TREADED TIRES. You weren’t really going to watch this in the first place, were you. Be honest!

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    I’m writing it off because it is another spec series. I could get very excited in an open series that mandated an electric powerplant. It’s the spec spec spec of nearly every series out there. All done to keep costs down, I need a barfing emoticon here.

    Costs have not been kept down, they keep spec’ing things even in the “Ultimate” series F1, and still the costs are insane. Even NASCAR, which is almost completely spec is insanely expensive.

    Nope, I’m not watching, not that the organizers care. The only place you can go see real innovation and only lightly inhibited at that, is in club racing. I think I’ll go to the SCCA national championship races instead.

    [Reply]

    Tom Reply:

    Formula Ford uses treaded tyres, rain or shine, and as far as I can remember/tell, is pretty much a spec series. Those things make for fantastic racing!
    Yes, it’s a junior series, but so what if you don’t know the drivers? That doesn’t stop them being amazing to watch or drive.

    Yak Reply:

    Formula E isn’t a spec series. There’s a spec car teams can buy to get in there to start with, but they’re not limited to that.

    Kevin Reply:

    I stand corrected Yak, I read the press release. If it develops as a truly open development class then yes, it could be interesting.

    Yak Reply:

    Definitely, it could be interesting. Hopefully the regulations will really allow for development, and it’s not an “open” championship only in name.

    Ronnie Reply:

    Lots of miss-conception out there about electric cars. two months ago, my understanding of electric car was something small, ugly, and weak. Tesla Model S reversed all that. It proved that electric motor can be superior to ICE (internal combustion engine). The most convincing thing is that electric motor has max torque at all speed! Even Mark Webber would not be able to have a bad start with that (no offense Aussies)

    [Reply]

    adam Reply:

    not sure its superior yet, its around 80 to 90,000 here in australia to get one, its lucky to do 500kms with no air-con on and possibly no radio either. Only doing 80km as opposed to our 110 speed limits, on flat roads with no wind. It takes five hours to recharge and if you’re no where near a powerpoint your stuffed.

    after 8 years max you need to spend another 10-12 grand for a new battery just to get it going, I also bet most current mechanics wouldn’t have much idea how to service these so you’d have to go tothe manufacture to get it done.

    My 15 year old celica can do 650km on one tank, thats with air-con and stereo and what ever else I have plug in eg: ipod.

    I can refill the car in ten minutes, if I run out of fuel I can get fuel from a near buy house etc….

    maybe in ten years they might be better but until they actually implement on teh go charging I won’t buy one and I can’t see that happening in australia for proably 20-30 years as the costs would be massive

    [Reply]

    Ross (@current_e) Reply:

    Lots of tech is being developed that will help though, including induction charging (wireless battery charging) and electric charge stations. Tesla is rolling out “supercharger” stations in the US that are like normal petrol stations – except that Model S owners don’t have to pay to recharge, and never will do. Free fuel for life. Not a bad deal.

    Ronnie Reply:

    Adam, you seemed to have looked into the model S. Don’t know what happens in Australia, but EPA rated top speed = 125 mph or 201 km/h here in the US.

    The superiority I referred to was for max torque at all speed which gives the rock-ship feeling just by pressing down the padel, and makes passing on the road effortless – ICE just cannot do that per mechanism of action.

    Other major superior features to ICE by nature of being electric:
    - lowest drag coefficient of road cars, for the bottom of the car is flat without all the stuff there
    - NHTSA’s highest safety rating score. For example, the front trunk is empty (cannot do for ICE), which allows extra cushion against injury from frontal collision; doesn’t flip over due to low center of gravity of the skateboard battery pack on the bottom
    - improved the function with time – all are controlled by the 17′ iPad like panel which receives regular upgrades like the iPad

    Some other comments:

    “80 to 90,000 here in Australia to get one”
    Come to the US. It’s much cheaper here. US base price after federal tax credit = $63+K usd, electricity is much cheaper than gas here hence ~$20K usd savings for 120K miles/193K km driving

    “its lucky to do 500kms with no air-con on and possibly no radio either”
    radio and air-con take up small % of usage. Record is >400mls/643km

    “It takes five hours to recharge and if you’re no where near a powerpoint your stuffed”
    I charge it at the convenience of my garage while I eat, sleep and watch TV, in oppose to special trips to the pumps. Even for people who commute 3-4 hours a day, there’s no range worry by charging at home. For someone who travels long distance into the unknown on a regular basis, he/she needs to plan ahead. And there’s the growing Supercharger stations that charge the whole range within an hour.

    “after 8 years max you need to spend another 10-12 grand for a new battery just to get it going”
    Batteries are getting cheaper and better with time like the computer chips. Price today >> price 8 years from now.

    “I also bet most current mechanics wouldn’t have much idea how to service these so you’d have to go tothe manufacture to get it done.”
    The car is actually much less complicated than a gas vehicle, and many things can be fixed remotely.

    “I can refill the car in ten minutes, if I run out of fuel I can get fuel from a near buy house etc….”
    This was not true when ICE first came out. Battery swap takes less time than refueling. A baby doesn’t have all the faculties functioning at full potential upon birth. But it represents the future, and being part of its growth is part of the trill that makes life exciting.

    Ronnie Reply:

    A few more clarifications

    The empty front trunk doesn’t come at the expense of the back trunk which remains huge and empty. The motors are between the back wheels and the usual car stuff is not needed. The front trunk space allows extra enforcement, such as a cross bar, that cannot be done when an engine and its associates are there.

    The empty front trunk doesn’t come at the expense of weight balance either. the car is almost 50:50 front to back, which allows winter real-wheel driving together with low center of gravity.

    We all know that the middle-east is highly unstable. I wasn’t there during the oil shortage in the 70s. But if it happens again, a model S will be able to zip by all those gas stations lapped with cars.

    Elon (the CEO)’s goal is to roll out electric vehicles (model E?) 1/2 the price of model S in 3-4 years. He, Tesla Motors, soon Formula E, and their supporters will change the world.

    adam Reply:

    Hi Ronnie,

    I agree it will get better and I have been following all the tech quite closley.

    While in the UK and US things are further ahead, we’re miles behind here the last 2 electric cars introduced here have been flops and aren’t being sold anymore.

    Part of the issues for australian is the cost (yes its cheaper in america but so is everything, not really a valid point for me. considering customers can buy a petrol car for a 1/3 of the cost of an electirc one)our electricity is more expensive than gas. The other side is distance, we have a much larger country than yourself, so the cost of installing charge base’s or road charging lines is a lot higher here. We haven’t even got fibreoptic for internet yet!!

    The stats I provided were directly from their wedsite, it wasn’t about top speed. It was about what speed you needed to do and what conditions you needed to get the achieved 500kms. These just don’t work here I could probably make it to sydney our closest state which is around 300 kms but normally I could drive there and back on 1 tank of fuel.

    They stated the achieved 500kms is no wind, only flat roads, doing 80kms, with no accessories turned on. I assume the record’s conditions were even more stringent.

    Actually we do have rear mounted ICE engines so some cars do have the trunk at the front of the car. Most cars won’t flip over, usually only SUV’s and 4wds have this risk as they have a high center of gravity.

    We don’t have any charge stations so there’s no point saying its fine I charge it at home, my point was currently if I wanted to go on a trip and didn’t have enough charge to get their on 1 charge I would have issues getting a charge from anywhere. We have farms on the way but most of then are a couple of Kms walk to the farm house from the road and most of the petrol stations haven’t been upgraded in 30 years so none offer electric charging. We also don’t have battery swap stations either.

    I’m not sure what you mean by less complicated than ICE, certainly less moving parts but most mechanics can repair or replace these parts. The pioneer electric car’s spokesman who was trying to push electric cars here ended up selling it after months of constant repairs and faults, these weren’t fixable remotely. Also the mechanic will need the software or programming station to diagnose the issue so not all mechanics will be able to afford installing this machine.

    I’m sorry if you feel I was bashing electric cars, I’m not against them! just currently they aren’t viable. Certainly as batteries improve and costs reduce they will become a more reasonable option.

    [Reply]

    Ronnie Reply:

    Wow, thanks for your insights on Australian infrustructure. It’s amazing how different the world is. My ignorance made me imagine that Australia is like Texas with beaches. Tesla does have a store in your country though. Would be interesting to learn how they do there.


  9.   9. Posted By: K
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 11:33 am 

    I did not think cars could get uglier than the 2009 F1 cars.

    At least they will sound better than the 2014 F1 cars with Opel Manta engines.

    [Reply]

    tim Reply:

    They are a lot better looking than the 2012 platypus cars of which a few are still a few turning laps this year. The real problem I see is that they are basically Formula ‘lite’ cars. Not as fast, not as powerful as F1 but more responsible and, you know…better. Mmmm, okay. Good luck with that. I guess I’m not sure if political correctness has a place in motorsport.

    [Reply]

    Yak Reply:

    The biggest difference is in the aero. If they’ve got that right with FE, the cars will still be quite quick even with their significantly reduced power (compared to F1), and we might actually see some overtaking.

    They’re gonna need to get that right, with all the circuits being city street circuits. I’m hoping they do manage it, and I’m hoping that despite the cars looking somewhat like junior Formula cars, we’ll end up with something quite different to just “F1 lite”.

    [Reply]

    I know Reply:

    They look more like cars should look like, if form follows function. Have a look at Adrian Newey’s X1 prototype.

    [Reply]


  10.   10. Posted By: peter stanley
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 11:53 am 

    Is this likely to be shown on TV? If so would it be more likely Eurosport or Sky Sports?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    More likely Sky I would think, but live streaming is a big part of their distribution plan. Not sure how they will do it but it will be readily available via internet

    [Reply]

    Jodum5 Reply:

    Didn’t Fox pick up the broadcasting rights in 90 countries?

    [Reply]

    Seán Craddock Reply:

    Would love to see live streaming being introduced. Would make sense since this is clearly a series promoting modern technology and looking towards the future and would be a great acid test for F1 if they wanted to go down that route.

    What Dorna Sports has done with the MotoGP platform is quite amazing at a reasonable price! Tata Communications links could be very handy

    [Reply]


  11.   11. Posted By: Kieran Mathers
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 12:20 pm 

    I love that design – especially the 18″ rims on the tyres. Formula 1, take note!

    I’m really looking forward to this series – and are we going to get a JA on FE site? It’d be a great loss to us race fans if we didn’t get the same sort of brilliant coverage from you, though I accept you are already a very busy man.

    So, please?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    I plan to stay across it and we’ll see what plans they have for streaming etc. But my main focus is on F1 and will remain there

    [Reply]

    Ross (@current_e) Reply:

    If it helps, I’ve been following developments closely at currente.wordpress.com. I was at the Frankfurt event yesterday – lots of interesting developments emerged from chats after the official press statements.

    [Reply]


  12.   12. Posted By: Steven
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 12:25 pm 

    The loudest complaints are going to come from companies that sell ear plugs..:)

    [Reply]

    Spyros Reply:

    Maybe… or they will come from the city dwellers, who will wonder why their local roads are closed, without the complimentary noise to explain what’s going on!

    In all seriousness, unless the promoters manage to get 2-3 big-name drivers in there, to give the whole enterprise some decent exposure, I doubt it will do a second season. History is full of still-born lower formulae.

    [Reply]

    GWD Reply:

    Re city dwellers/workers: I can imagine a conversation in an office tower such as “Geez, so many roads are closed today, and I hear something that sounds like there must be a phenominally huge bee hive in there somewhere!”

    I still think making the series biodiesel/electric initially would have been better, with a clear progression plan away from the diesel component with appropriate cost constraints so as to not V6Turbo the series like F1 has.

    [Reply]

    Ross (@current_e) Reply:

    Additional cost though, changing regs and changing powertrains. Hybrid racing tech already exists – F1 (esp next year) and Le Mans, particularly. All electric in this format is very different. Start as you mean to go on, and all that.


  13.   13. Posted By: George
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 12:28 pm 

    I think this is an awesome initiative and hope and expect it to succeed, though maybe they could have got McLaren to do the aero work too and make something cool – looks like the front wing is designed for a bit of bump & ram, might be fun? is this what is meant by “designed aerodynamically to encourage overtaking” ?
    We need this technology on our city streets, to get off the oil addiction we’ve been given (yes ok, they fly the gear round in planes but this is a good promo for the technology. . ) I wonder though how it will work as an open series – will one team turn up one day and be 5 seconds a lap quicker, or make a system that lasts the whole race while others have to pit or change car? A public learning curve would not be a good look – interesting how it can be regulated – any insight James?
    Thanks for covering this story.

    [Reply]

    AuraF1 Reply:

    I can only imagine they’ve limited the turbulent air flow by reducing downforce. So cars can run nose to tail without losing a massive amount of grip. It may be massively slower than F1 but if there’s actual driver skill based overtakes it could eventually be more fun to watch than F1. Not that I think racing has to be about constant overtaking but a bit more emphasis on the late breakers and risk takers than the skill of Adrian newey to come up with ever cleverer ways to blow hot air downwards might be addictive!

    [Reply]

    I know Reply:

    The cars rely on ground effect, so turbulent air flow from the car in front is less of a problem.

    It will be interesting to see how the car swap will be used, depending on whether drivers have to swap after a predetermined number of laps, or if they can swap at their own choice – presumably with equal cars, but assuming that power consumption is an issue, the optimum race time would dictate that all cars stop about midway through the race, but if battery capacity clearly exceeds requirement, it could get very interesting.

    Still, to promote electric cars, they need to get rid of this “only good for half the distance” as soon as possible, and introduce tyre changes.

    [Reply]


  14.   14. Posted By: Fellowes
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 12:38 pm 

    James, do you know who has the TV rights?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Fox has them in many territories. Production company entrusted with the coverage is led by an ex FOM TV guy called West Gillett, who knows his stuff

    [Reply]


  15.   15. Posted By: Jay B
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 12:41 pm 

    The power unit may only provide 270 BHP, but any rough idea on what kind of torque it will be able to produce? Of course electric power provides a relatively high amount of torque (compared to a combustion engine). Given that the aim is for minimal tyre usage and that it is torque which causes wheel-spin and therefore the main cause of rear-tyre degradation, I wonder if Michelin will be forced to create ‘rock-hard’ tyres if the torque is indeed high. Especially given the inevitable tight corners, and thus ubiquitous traction zones, of street circuits.

    [Reply]


  16.   16. Posted By: Hugy
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 12:42 pm 

    So JamesAllenOnF? Or JamesAllenOnF1andFE? I do hope there is coverage of it in this great website!

    [Reply]


  17.   17. Posted By: Andrew Carter
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 1:01 pm 

    That is one ugly car, it looks far worse than the test mule and promo pics. The fact that’s it’s a spec chassis when they have interest from multiple manufactureres (Blubird for instance) is abd thing as well.

    [Reply]

    Ross (@current_e) Reply:

    Spec car for season one only, to keep costs down. Lower costs should tempt more teams. The Bluebird concept looks stunning – wouldn’t be surprised if Nissan’s ZEOD Le Mans racer headed in the Formula E direction too.

    [Reply]

    Andrew Carter Reply:

    So they say, but we’ll see if it gets taken up.

    I would be surprised if Nissan changed direction, the ZEOD is thought of as a stepping stone to another attack on overall victory at Le Mans, and beating Audi, Toyota and Porsche there would gain them far more publicity and drive their electric development harder.

    [Reply]


  18.   18. Posted By: Seán Craddock
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 1:03 pm 

    James, do you know if Michelin will be using similar technology to their ‘hybrid’ intermediate tyres currently used on LMP1 cars in the WEC?

    I’m disappointed to learn that it’s not starting until September 2014, I thought I’d be in LA for that race. Is a season going to run September through May? Sounds odd for a racing series

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Sounds sensible to fill the gap left by F1 and other world series

    [Reply]

    Seán Craddock Reply:

    Never thought of it that way! People would be more inclined to watch it since there’s nothing else on. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Simmo Reply:

    Definitely a great idea? Do we know yet when the London race comes in the calendar?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    I believe it will be Round 1 in September

    Possible venue – Olympic Park, but roads aren’t wide enough…

    Other venues under discussion

    Adrian J Reply:

    Well, there’s a very good chance that I’ll be there!!

    I volunteer with St John Ambulance and we cover most of the big events in London and there is no way that I’ll be missing this one!!!

    (Plus I’m hoping to go to Uni in London from next September, so that works quite nicely too)

    Simmo Reply:

    Ah thanks :) (that ? was supposed to be a !, apologies if it caused confusion)

    [Reply]

    Ross (@current_e) Reply:

    Potential for lots of wet races – even more exciting racing.

    [Reply]


  19.   19. Posted By: James O'Brien
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 1:06 pm 

    Who cares what they look like, if the racing is good and it’s exciting then surely it’s worth watching??

    [Reply]

    Lee Staples Reply:

    Exactly right! I think a lot of people here are expecting it to be F1 junior and that’s not the case. It’s to showcase and develop electric car technology. It sounds like the cars aren’t very aero dependent, so the quality of racing may shock a lot of people. And complain about it being ugly all you want, but I’ve seen many F1 cars that were way worse than this.

    [Reply]


  20.   20. Posted By: Steve Zodiac
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 1:32 pm 

    Nothing to interest a motorsport fan in here but maybe if you like washing machines it could interest you. I think this series will flop, I can hear it coming…oh no I can’t!

    [Reply]

    JR Reply:

    Formula Ernie … He drove the fastest milk cart in he west :D

    [Reply]

    GWD Reply:

    LOL. Well, I certainly didn’t think anyone would be able to link energy efficient race cars, the world and surrounds of F1 and Benny Hill. There you go… :D

    [Reply]


  21.   21. Posted By: IgMi
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 1:33 pm 

    I find exploring other forms of motor racing interesting. How would it click with the current generation of petrolheads remains to be seen. It would also be interesting how would racing of electric cars be seen by a generation that is going to grow up with them (assuming the electric cars become mainstream). I would give it a chance. Not sure how would different noise affect the perception of racing.

    P.S. I am not impressed with the judgemental tone of some comments way before we had a chance to see the series in action.

    [Reply]


  22.   22. Posted By: Martin
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 1:38 pm 

    I don’t understand the “open championship” statement. From what I could find on the Formula E website there didn’t appear to be component competition.

    The shrouds over the wheels are there presumably to reduce drag to allow 200 kW to have a reasonable top speed. The side pods look massive given the density of the batteries, so I suspect this has more of an aerodynamic influence and styling rather than physical space requirements. With high efficiency batteries and only 200 kW (or 180 on the Formula E site) the cooling demands are much less than demanded by the size of the side pods.

    My feeling is that the cars are going to look slow, with the tyres being grip limited, the downforce to drag ratio low based on the “aerodynamically designed to encourage overtaking” statement. Keeping the car to street tracks sounds like a great idea to maintain the spectacle.

    A problem for the series could be that it is unlikely to be desirable to rising junior drivers as many of the car characteristics will be very different to F3, GP2 FR3.5 etc. I imagine the tyre pressure and spring tuning would be reversed from what F1 does with its 13 inch wheels.

    Hopefully the cars are cheap to run, and relatively cheap to buy, with the batteries not being the equivalent of a racing rather than road car engine in cost.

    [Reply]

    SteveH Reply:

    From the Formula E website:

    “The FIA Formula E Championship is designed as an ‘open championship’, inspiring manufacturers and constructors to build their own fully-electric cars, subject to the technical specifications set out by the FIA.”

    [Reply]

    Ross (@current_e) Reply:

    It’s timing, I think. This has all happened very fast, and giving a whole load of cars to the FIA for approval would have been tough. On the other hand, Bluebird officially launches its GTL racer this month, which is designed for Formula E. So we might see some progress.

    [Reply]


  23.   23. Posted By: Warren G
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 1:41 pm 

    Why is it that, when designing a spec chassis, the designers don’t seem to consider aesthetics much? Chassis design and aero aren’t going to be the performance differentiators between teams and drivers, so why not make something that looks beatiful as well as fast?

    They’re already handicapped with an electric motor which doesn’t seem to have much mass appeal, why still make an ugly car?

    [Reply]


  24.   24. Posted By: Ryan
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 1:46 pm 

    Fantastic to hear! I love F1 racing but the damage it does to the environment goes against everything I am trying to do, so I hope this series meets with huge success! Love to see a series using Hydrogen Gas as the emission is water while the electricity supplied to charge these cars is likely to come from the local electrical grid which is more than likely supplied by a non eco-friendly power plant…good step in the right direction though! Definitely going to be watching next year! The design will no doubt change as the series goes on so I’m sure they will improve…Hoping the F1 manufacturers eventually climb on board and field teams themselves…

    [Reply]

    Spyros Reply:

    Maybe one day they will electrify the diesel trucks that will ferry the race cars around… don’t know about the huge cargo planes that will take them to faraway cities, though…

    Only a teeny-tiny fraction of F1′s carbon footprint actually has to do with the fuel burnt by the racing cars. Formula E will be missing this tiny fraction, and to be fair the spec chassis probably involves a lot less aero work (and related energy bills for 60% windtunnels!) but otherwise it’s just as energy intensive as F1.

    Good PR, though…

    [Reply]

    Yak Reply:

    The whole electric thing isn’t just about saving a few emissions while they’re actually out on track. It promotes research and development in the technologies and promotes the idea of the electric car and moving towards more sustainable solutions in general. Would it be “greener” to just not race at all? In the short term, obviously yes. But in the longer term it will hopefully justify its existence with the development that goes on.

    And maybe they’ll come up with battery technologies that’ll make their way into other industries, and I’ll have a phone that can make it through a whole day without recharging!

    [Reply]

    Ross (@current_e) Reply:

    Actually, the DHL guys had some info on how they will try and “green” the logistics chain in getting Formula E around the world. I’m writing the piece at the moment; it will be up a bit later on at currente.wordpress.com


  25.   25. Posted By: Fordo
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 1:52 pm 

    Admittedly, I’m new to F1 and world-class racing – as opposed to the NASCAR racing we’re subjected to here in the states – but I think the car is actually attractive in this “conceptual” representation. And I’ll be following it as it’s a great step in raising awareness of the feasibility of electric vehicles.

    But only 270 horses? Amazing. And possibly boring.

    [Reply]

    SteveH Reply:

    Have you ever watched a F3 race?

    [Reply]

    Fordo Reply:

    I have not. Why do you ask?

    [Reply]

    Spyros Reply:

    I think he asked because F3 cars are pretty low on power, too… but a quick search on Youtube should demonstrate that they’re not lacking in spectacle.

    SteveH Reply:

    Bingo Spyros. F3 cars are about 200 h.p. and weigh 550 kg. They put on a spectacular show and are very exciting to watch, mostly because the drivers are young and fearless and just learning their craft. For that matter, Formula Ford is also great.

    Ross (@current_e) Reply:

    Have you seen the AMG SLS E-drive in action? Jeremy Clarkson was blown away by it on Top Gear. And the Formula E car will have better power to weight ratio than that. Boring and slow, the racing will not be!

    [Reply]


  26.   26. Posted By: Erik
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 1:54 pm 

    I like the design of the chasis. It’s still a viable open-wheeler design and I think they solved the problem of not looking too much like an F1 car well. A big improvement from the initial concept earlier this year. Much prefer those bigger wheels too, much better than the 13″ wheels F1 has borrowed off a Mini.

    This series is full of happy stories, can’t wait to see it in action!

    James, since this will effectively be in F1′s off season can we expect any cross polination of current drivers from F1? McLaren or Williams drivers maybe since they are heavily involved?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Good question. Maybe 3rd drivers? I’ll ask

    [Reply]

    Erik Reply:

    Would give the series a marketing boost, raise it’s profile with the doubters also. Could also be seen as some pre-season training by F1 drivers?

    [Reply]

    Simmo Reply:

    Maybe they could put Alonso, Hamilton, and Vettel all in, and settle the debate ;)

    [Reply]

    Ross (@current_e) Reply:

    Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel – identical spec cars on street circuits? That would be worth paying a lot to see. In fact, bring back Schumacher and let’s do it properly.

    Erik Reply:

    Also, not a big fan of the one size suits all weather conditions tyre. Reeks a bit of ‘we don’t want to be compared to F1 in terms of lap performance’. I think they should embrace the comparison, conceed that it’s a slower series initially but improve the technology year on year until F1′s persistence with old technology becomes embarrassing. Ten years of competitive development and this series could hopefully develop its technology to such a state that it could kill F1 in it’s current guise.

    [Reply]

    Ross (@current_e) Reply:

    They’re thinking relevance to road cars though. You can go and buy a set of aesthetically identical Oz wheels and Michelin tyres tomorrow from Halfords and slap them on your Dacia (!). It should make fans feel much more closely connected to the sport.

    [Reply]


  27.   27. Posted By: Lewis
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 2:47 pm 

    Hi James and all,

    I see that Renault have their name in the car name. I assume they paid for that, as your description has more work done by McLaren and Williams?

    [Reply]

    Miha Bevc Reply:

    Yes, I would like to know that too. It’s strange. And not good PR for Renault.

    [Reply]

    Ross (@current_e) Reply:

    Renault are technical partners, and are overseeing the project. The car is called the “Spark-Renault” to reflect that. It’s great PR for them and their electric car programme – and more coverage than they get on the side of the Red Bull F1 machines.

    [Reply]


  28.   28. Posted By: malcolm.strachan
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 2:51 pm 

    I think the combination of low power and spec cars will kill this series. They need to have double that power (or at least 500-600 ft-lbs of torque), and have some open rules so it’s not just a showcase of what McLaren and Dallara can do.

    At least start off with open motor design, and perhaps a bit of open aero. Not much, but enough to make the cars look a little different.

    [Reply]

    Ronnie Reply:

    Perhaps the power is limited by battery size. Next leap forward on battery technology will come in a few years. We may see higher power then?

    [Reply]

    Yak Reply:

    The spec cars are just to get things off the ground, rather than expecting teams to all come up with their own cars straight off the bat.

    The Formula E website states, “The FIA Formula E Championship is designed as an ‘open championship’, inspiring manufacturers and constructors to build their own fully-electric cars, subject to the technical specifications set out by the FIA.”

    [Reply]

    malcolm.strachan Reply:

    Yes, I understand that, but that’s why I said they should have some open parameters. Perhaps they could have started with open motor design; fabricate one from scratch, design for off-the-shelf components and assemble their own, or purchase a complete unit from a supplier. That would allow for an easy way into the championship and allow for some technical variety. Allowing a bit of open aero could make the cars look a little different, which would be nice.

    I just see this going the same way as IndyCar. They said that they’ll have a common chassis, but aero and engine will be open. In the first year, they had a few engines, but spec aero with promises of open aero the next year. Then for costs, they kept the status quo for the next year. For 2014, I have heard nothing of open aero, and they are further restricting the engines to single turbo rather than allowing single or twin for some variety.

    I just see Formula E putting off open regulations for too long, killing the series before it even gets momentum. This series NEEDS to make the cars the stars of the show. Drivers shouldn’t matter as much. As such, they need to boost power and increase variety as soon as practically possible.

    [Reply]


  29.   29. Posted By: Erik T
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 3:53 pm 

    I don’t think the car looks too bad. I just wonder how they can have a race longer than 10 minutes or so before the battery is totally exhausted. Will they have a pitstop changing out a battery pack in 2.5 seconds?

    [Reply]

    Spyros Reply:

    I believe they plan on swapping cars, midway through… changing batteries is too complicated: they’re big, heavy and not all of them will be at one place in the car!

    [Reply]

    Kirk Reply:

    No, each driver will have two cars as the race will be about 40 minutes, so when the battery goes low they pit in order to change the car.

    [Reply]

    JR Reply:

    No, they have multiple cars per driver, the driver gets into a new car at every pit stop, totally negating any farcical ideas that it is any way environmentally friendly racing.

    [Reply]


  30.   30. Posted By: Richard
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 4:12 pm 

    Racing without noise… It just isn’t sensational…

    [Reply]

    Ross (@current_e) Reply:

    Check out the youtube footage. There is definitely noise. Some of it is annoying, but it sounds a bit like a jet fighter going past.

    [Reply]


  31.   31. Posted By: Barry
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 4:52 pm 

    If you want beauty of machine, speed(in three dimentions) , beauty in local, then check into sailplane grand prix.
    I’m glad to see FE get going. I love F1, and have followed it closely since 1962, but I’m not 1 sport limited, and besides, F1 is driven by change in and of technology. So,all things considered, I think we’re probably going to loose peteoleum based engines eventually anyway, so lets get ready for the future.

    [Reply]


  32.   32. Posted By: All revved-up
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 4:55 pm 

    The series needs some “crowd pulling name drivers”. I think they need Sebastian Loeb, Montoya, Kobayashi, Alonso (if he packs up and leaves Ferrari when Kimi doesn’t let him past), Webber, Martin Brundle, Johnny Herbert, Anthony Davidson, . . . . .Tiff Needle and The Stig!

    I’m sure many won’t have a problem handling 270hp. Perhaps even some JAonF1 forum posters – who say that Webber is 2nd rate. Let’s see how they go against a 2nd rate driver! The JAonF1 forum will be full of buzz!

    [Reply]

    Simmo Reply:

    No competition really… The Stig will beat them all!

    [Reply]

    Ronnie Reply:

    I love Montoya. Not sure if he would be interested though.

    [Reply]

    Spyros Reply:

    He’s in America, perhaps about to switch from NASCAR to Indy, apparently. So you’re probably right.

    [Reply]


  33.   33. Posted By: Miha Bevc
        Date: September 10th, 2013 @ 6:13 pm 

    Why is the car called Renault if the engine is provided by McLaren?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    They have worked with Spark to develop the car, I believe

    [Reply]

    Yak Reply:

    “Overseeing all the systems integration will be the Championship’s Technical Partner Renault, a leader of electric vehicles and an expert in motorsport thanks to its Renault Sport Technologies and Renault Sport F1 programmes.”

    That’s all I saw on Renault’s involvement.

    [Reply]


  34.   34. Posted By: RogerD
        Date: September 11th, 2013 @ 12:16 am 

    Given their F1 form this year it comes as no surprise that McLaren and Williams were involved in designing a car that encourages overtaking. Maybe some of the Formula E and Formula 1 plans were mixed up at the photocopying machine :P

    [Reply]


  35.   35. Posted By: Jim
        Date: September 11th, 2013 @ 5:37 pm 

    It looks to be an very interesting formula, but how does the performance of the car measure up to current F1 cars, are they brutal enough, to interest top drivers (even if the $$$ are big enough)?

    Is there any chance we may see the likes of Rubens or Massa joining F.E.?

    What about broadcasting who has got the rights in the UK?

    [Reply]


  36.   36. Posted By: Hans
        Date: September 20th, 2013 @ 12:09 pm 

    Saw the chassis in real life at Frankfurt motor show and it looks absolutely stunning!
    Great take on the tyres – they look like you could fit them on road cars. That makes a great marketing platform I think.
    If the teams can fiddle a little with the chassis – add or alter spoilers and flaps, these things will look really great!

    [Reply]


  37.   37. Posted By: King Kumar
        Date: September 30th, 2013 @ 12:49 am 

    I am just writing to make you understand of the outstanding discovery my cousin’s girl had reading through your site. She learned many issues, with the inclusion of how it is like to have an incredible coaching style to make other people just know just exactly chosen complicated subject areas. You undoubtedly exceeded visitors’ expectations. Thank you for churning out such good, trusted, informative and unique tips on that topic to Emily.

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