Is Formula E on target? We ask the man in charge of the newest world motorsport series
Innovation
Formula E
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Feb 2014   |  7:26 am GMT  |  263 comments

At a recent F1 related event I was approached by a senior figure from one of the leading F1 teams; “This Formula E series, what do you think? Will it happen?”

The question, laced with a mixture if curiosity and scepticism, still arises.

“We are on schedule,” says Formula E chief executive Alejandro Agag, when I put this question to him in his office in London’s Hammersmith area. “We just ran a test with the car using the large battery for the first time (on a test track outside Paris) and we did 55 laps with no glitches. Williams have done a fantastic job on the batteries.”


It is exactly seven months until the first Formula E race, in Beijing and the focus is now moving on to race organisation and logistics; the team behind the FIA’s newest world series is growing fast – 45 employees at the moment, with another 30 joining in the next four weeks, mainly on the operations side and marketing.

“Most of the work is done already, “says Agag. “The actors are there; the cites where the races are taking place, the teams, the partners and the drivers. The teams will gradually announce the drivers over the coming weeks with Audisport ABT announcing former F1 driver Lucas di Grassi and DTM driver Daniel Abt.”

Among the teams are some interesting names, like Hollywood star Leonardo di Caprio and Sir Richard Branson via his Virgin Group, which failed to get a grip of F1, but is trying its hand at the new series.

Meanwhile other former F1 stars including Jaime Alguersuari and Christian Klien have joined the drivers’ club and will be announced by their respective teams shortly.

Formula E Holdings has also taken on some investors, including Boston Celtics managing partner Wyc Grousbeck and his co-owners in the NBA franchise who invested $21 million into the fledgling series.

Agag says that two other investors are following Grousbeck in, “from a different region”, which is likely to mean Asia.


So the infrastructure is in place, but what about the racing and some of the fundamental problems, like the range of the cars? Does Agag still plan to run a single race with drivers forced to change cars part way through? He does, although he admits that they have considered the alternative which is to run two 30 minute races with a short break between races for a change of vehicles, allowing broadcasters to take a commercial break. This is a model which Flavio Briatore once proposed for F1 races, with viewers unhappy about interrupting races for commercial breaks, as networks do in most countries around the world.

Agag is setting great store by the “fan boost” initiative, whereby fans can vote for which driver should get a special push to pass opportunity in a race. This would see fans actually entering into the competitive picture of the race and influencing the outcome. Fans will vote via social media using #drivername

“No other sport allows direct interaction from fans, allowing them to affect the result,” says Agag.

The planning around the two-car concept has recently developed a twist, with drivers having cars with two different profiles; an energy car and an attack car and so there is a level of strategy involved in when you deploy which car.

If they stick with the single race format and the frantic change of cars, they hope that the development race which will start in Year 2, when teams get the chance to race their own technology, will highlight technological progress as the need for a change of cars reduces over five years or so of development. The idea is that this technology will filter down to the automotive industry and help to counter range anxiety.

I put it to Agag that since FIA president Jean Todt first floated the idea of Formula E in April 2011, the car industry has moved on from pure Electric cars towards plug in hybrids, which can run electric in cities and then have a small petrol hybrid engine for long distance motoring.

Agag accepts this, but feels that it doesn’t affect his series, which is still all about technology, sustainability and innovation; battery and range development and making electric motoring look sexy to younger consumers.

“The host cities will become synonymous with electric,” says Agag. Maybe 10 years from now most major cities in the world will have the equivalent of a congestion charge zone only for vehicles running on zero emissions and in the intervening years we hope to give confidence to the industry and to consumers.

Formula E will cost about the same for a team to compete in as GP2, roughly £2.5 million for two cars a year.

They plan to simulate two complete race weekends at Donington in July and August, to iron out any glitches and operational problems in what is a brand new racing series, from scrutineering to chequered flag fall.

A UK TV deal will be announced in the next two weeks.

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263 Comments
  1. Random 79 says:

    So the fans will get to decide who wins?

    Maybe the kids will like it, but for me that just blew all integrity out the window – worse than Bernie’s double points idea.

    Am I the only one thinking this?

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      Agree with your doubts Random. Contrivance has no part of any form of motor sport – whether it is petrol, diesel or electrical powered. A perfectly reasonable series has been tainted by silly ideas………sounds familiar eh???

    2. Seán Craddock says:

      I would imagine a lot of people share your view. I don’t think it’s a terrible idea -I don’t like it, but it kinda makes sense. Completely new series and looking towards the future. Social media will be an important role in the future (look at the F1 teams now) and also by getting people talking online it will spread the word about the sport.

      For the good of racing however I don’t think it’s right -but as long as they don’t do it to F1 it’s fine

      1. Random 79 says:

        I still don’t like the idea, but you make some good points – especially the last one ;)

    3. Steve Zodiac says:

      Umm, trying to generate some interest from the generation that feel the need to tell the world whenever they scratch their arse. Sounds like a snooze fest to me, just like twitter and facebook

      1. Sebee says:

        Thousands of years from now, when humanity ends and aliens come to earth, they will find our hard drives with facebook and twitter data backup data, put them to their heads(because aliens will have that ability) and they will say…”Oh my, every one of this narcissistic species though they were important.”

        But I do think that it is high time F1 satisfied this lot by feeding real time data to a PS network link and letting these joystick cowboys play along with a real GP. F1 is best placed to make virtual participation possible.

      2. rad_g says:

        It is called “personality”. They will also read your comments on this blog.

      3. mtm says:

        > by feeding real time data to a PS network link and letting these joystick cowboys play along with a real GP

        I’d buy a copy of F1 2014 with that! They need something better than GPS for positioning information though. I’m not sure the teams would appreciate that amount of telemetry being instantly available either. First thing the teams would do is plug that data back into their race simulations.

      4. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

        Excellent idea about the gaming real time data.

        So basically I can grab my PS controller.

        Live start the race in my Ferrari from last (I’m not quite good enough to even take Bianchi’s Marussia over one lap but smart enough to turn off the 117 percent option in the setup menu).

        I stick it up the inside of the pack, over the grass, and not really brake into turn one.

        Pass 15 cars and unfortunately T-bone into the side of a live data but virtual Alonso.

        Lose the front wheels from my car, turn off the Playstation (while blaming a virtual Alonso for turning in on me without looking) and pick up the action on the TV, live from turn 2.

        Sounds cool!

        p.s. the aliens won’t know Facebook, it’s a fad on it’s way out, as people evolve and realise nobody cares how cool their pretend their fake life is or perhaps that it apparently is no longer cool with the yoof of today.

    4. super seven says:

      No, I think that idea is even more daft than double points. I hope they see sense and ditch before the first race

      I like the idea of an all electric race series, though. Did I read that right in that there will no longer be two car swaps per race?

      In the original proposal that I read, the drivers would switch to the second car, then run that for 30 minutes or so while a bloody great petrol powered generator recharged the battery of car one ready for the second swap. That concept did seem to fly in the face of any eco-friendly pretentions the series had.

      1. Random 79 says:

        It does seem like a bit of contradiction when you put it that way…and I did say that push-to-pass was worse than the double points idea :)

      2. No, they’re still looking at two car swaps. How the cars will be recharged hasn’t been confirmed yet. Petrol genny’s would be deeply ironic. More likely to be plugged into the local grids, which as long as they’re prepared, ought to be able to cope easily.

    5. Quercus says:

      No you’re not the only one thinking that. It’s an appalling idea. In what sporting arena do the fans get to interfere with who wins? Well, apart from who got the coup de grâce in Roman gladiatorial arena.

    6. goggomobil says:

      Mate,it will never happen,Human male is very demanding creature,dodgem cars do not turn his head around for a second look,what he wants is that “whoa”
      bit,some that follows.
      1)Car ?when you gun it, if it does not have that bit of whoa he goes and trade it in.
      2)Bedroom,if the whoa bit is no longer on the menue divorce papers are in the mail.
      Fishing,if fish does not bait,he throws away the fishing rod and goes to fish market.
      Cheers!

      1. Marcbob says:

        Human males are not all the same. Shocking but true.

    7. Andy says:

      I agree, it makes you wonder who comes up with these things.
      It drags motorsport down to the level of mediocrity of the so called talent shows that seem to fill our screens these days.

    8. Racyboy says:

      Hats and t-shirts are as close as the fans should get to the teams. That’s why they’re the fans. Leave the race strategy up to the professionals.

      …and this years FE World champion is the driver with the most twitter followers, but it was all those shopping centre appearances that really clinched the championship.
      Bad idea.

      Having said that, this rule wouldn’t have done Webber any harm.

      1. Random 79 says:

        “Having said that, this rule wouldn’t have done Webber any harm”

        True, but he would have had to have a working car in the first place ;)

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        Poor old Mark………”Sorry Mark you’ve run out of electricity……….again”
        “Bloody hell, if I didn’t have bad luck I wouldn’t have any bloody luck at all!”

    9. F Zero says:

      No you’re not the only one.

      I was excited about this series until this idea of fan voted push to pass was announced. What insanity!

      I wont watch a single race of it.

    10. RichardD says:

      You’re not alone!

    11. Spinodontosaurus says:

      Yeah, I was somewhat interested in how the series would turn out until I read that.

    12. Gaz Boy says:

      RE Random: I know this isn’t strictly relevant to this debate, but go onto Youtube and type in Audi Quattro S2 sound. Possibly the best turbocharged engine sound ever created by a forced induction engine, even most F1 fans would admit those Group B mid 80s rally cars looked, sounded and drove like something from another planet. If F1 2014 sounds half as good as that, we’re in for a sonic overload of a treat. Fingers crossed……
      Speaking of Audi/VW………what chance the VAG group enter F1 with their own turbo engine? Fanciful? Possibly, but you never know………..perhaps BMW and Toyota may be temped back…………..

      1. Random 79 says:

        I did watch a little of the footage of the first day or two of testing.

        More of a growl, less of a whine. I don’t think we’ll have to worry :)

      2. warley says:

        I believe that VAG were serious about F1 and were developing a 4 cylinder engine with Cosworth – and then the FIA decided to mandate V6s so they dropped the project. This might be keeping out BMW too I would guess.

      3. Random 79 says:

        I think it was the economics (GFC) that made BMW skittish.

        They have a wide range of vehicles, but personally I would associate them more with a V6 turbo than any kind of 4 cylinder engine.

        You never know, they might come back :)

    13. Byron Lamarque says:

      Agreed I think the fans to allow for passing is a gimmick that undermines Formula E being a legitimate sport/series. I sincerely hope they kill this idea before the races get started. I’m also of the opinion that an endurance and performance car is a silly idea. Just give these drivers a car with which to demonstrate that they can go faster then their competition. That’s what racing is all about don’t try to reinvent the wheel just cause we all have smart phones in our grubby little paws : )

    14. Dave McKnight says:

      I agree wit you on this. The fans vote on who can pass? I was a potential fan/supporter of Formula E, nut they just lost me!

    15. James Clayton says:

      Worse than all of Bernie’s ideas put together.

      And the author of the article, a person whom I have had considerable respect for, is proclaiming that this is a great idea? I honestly couldn’t believe what I was reading.

      1. Random 79 says:

        Not so: James quoted Agag as “setting great store by the “fan boost” initiative”, explained what it means, and followed it up another PR quote from Agag, but he didn’t actually give his own opinion of it.

        I suspect there’s a good reason for that ;)

      2. James Clayton says:

        James used the phrase “great store”. He’s not, as far as I can tell, quoting anybody else therefore is expressing his own opinion; “Agag’s store is great”.

        Not entirely sure what “setting a great store” actually means, to be honest (never heard the phrase) but there’s no doubt in my mind the word *great* is a word of approval.

      3. Random 79 says:

        Ahhh okay, now I got you :)

        In this context to set a great store by something basically means your betting a lot on it, or depending on it to deliver results.

        For an F1 analogy if you’re a team boss and you hire a driver you think is going to win you the championship then you’re setting a great store by him, but just because I might write an article saying that you’re setting a great store by him doesn’t necessarily mean that I think that the driver is great.

        At least that’s how I interpreted it – I might be wrong and James may love the idea :)

      4. James Clayton says:

        Ah ok. I’ve never heard the phrase before so it’s my bad for not researching the term first. My apologies to Mr Allen.

    16. Richard says:

      Just imagine what Villeneuve has to about this being “too artificial”. Have to say I agree 100%.

    17. Basil says:

      No you aren’t, this idea kills the series completely for me.

    18. Glennb says:

      Totally agree with you mate, the most popular driver gets to pass the less popular driver. What chance would Seb have against Kimi or Lewis :) but then again, it’s only battery car racing.

    19. Timp says:

      Hope that is just some loopy pre-planning idea that never sees the light of day. Let the spectators spectate, but end it there. Otherwise you’re going to end up with a ‘Dancing with the Stars’ with electric automobiles.

      1. Ooh, and sparkly outfits?

      2. Random 79 says:

        Not sparkly, sparky ;)

    20. All revved-up says:

      Pah!

      What’s next – have Arsenal start a match 0-1 down?, Usain Bolt start 5m behind the field?

      Clearly ideas by men who love marketing rather than the sport itself.

      I was quite interested in the technology of formula-e. But I think I’ll boycott the series until more sporting integrity is restored.

      They have basically undermined the sport before its even got off the ground.

      1. Random 79 says:

        +1

    21. Bradley says:

      One more who will not watch if this silly fan-vote idea goes through… and I was keen before.

  2. Davexxx says:

    Wow if they are waiting till Donington in July, that’s cutting it fine before the series starts!
    Thanks for keeping an eye on FE for us James! Hope you can put together ‘all the factors’ on one page as we asked before!

      1. Davexxx says:

        This was brought up before, that we hop[e James can put together a ‘list’ (separate page?) of FE drivers, teams, (and which drives for which if known), race venues and possible venues to come, dates, etc. Those factors! ;-)

      2. Absolutely, that would be cool. In the meantime, there’s bags of stuff at http://www.current-e.com #CheekyPlug

  3. Andy in Norwich says:

    I’m really looking forward to it! Mr Agag deserves the greatest respect and best of luck in this new venture. It could be the biggest Motorsport revolution ever.
    Having standard cars for the first year is great – it’ll be down to the driver and team to set up the cars and choose strategy so the racing will be close.
    For what it’s worth, I used to compete in race championships consisting of 3 heats each. Later they tried one long race instead, which made things less exciting for everyone. I feel that for Formula E (and F1 for that matter), two heats of fewer laps would be more exciting than one long race. Just look at BTCC race format!
    James, could you please explain how the ‘fan boost’ would actually work on the cars?

    1. Interestingly, the FIA was originally looking at heats. FEH hopes that within three years, the endurance will be good enough to last the whole race without swaps.
      From what we know, fanboost allows drivers one extra “push to pass”, which is a function they have in limited numbers throughout the races anyway. Essentially, push to pass is a derestrictor that gives the full 200kW peak power for a brief period. No more details than that have so far been released.

  4. kenneth chapman says:

    i have asked this question before but have never ever got a reply….here we go again. why, with so many of the top engineering brains available, can’t we have battery changes during a pit stop? surely a ‘plug and play’ style battery pack could be delivered. say, one pack on each side and driver can simply ‘eject’ the old ones and team can plug in the new ones.

    would love to know why this couldn’t be achieved.

    1. Quercus says:

      The only reason I can think of is the problem of accident damage. The batteries could be death traps with all that power shorting out in the event of a collision. I would guess that the current batteries are well buried in the cars and shielded by other components, so a ‘quick change’ function is not really practical.

      But what do I know? I’m just speculating. We need more technical detail if this form of racing is going to become really interesting. Are you planning to provide it, James?

    2. MISTER says:

      Well, depends how many batteries are..and how heavy. If they’re 6-10 of them, because of the packaging, it could prove quite challenging to remove and place others in their place. Then, there’s the weight aspect of it. What if they’re 20-30 kg each?

    3. RichardD says:

      It seems so obvious really and I too would like to see technical answer to this basic issue. But I suspect that there must be a significant problem if they haven’t attempted to go down that path. Maybe it’s to do with the amount of electrical energy that needs to be stored and the risks of handling fully charged batteries. We all know what happened to damaged mobile phone batteries!

    4. Rob says:

      I would expect safety is the main concern… the batteries are quite heavy and to orchestrate people changing 200 lb+ batteries on the fly would be entertaining, it’s true, but I would let the series get its feet wet in other ways first.

    5. Ahmad says:

      Great idea, and better than changing cars in terms of cost effectiveness and show.

      You could even have a choice of batteries (different sizes/charge/etc…).

    6. AndrewM says:

      Agreed! I’ve wondered the same, and would be interested to know why having extra cars (at what must be great expense) is seen as preferable.

    7. Pete says:

      Not an engineer, but I think its due to the way its packaged in the car, the fact that these are larger and heavier batteries, and also because of potential danger to crew members. Finally, the set up is to encourage teams to improve battery life which is the point of this series. Otherwise, there really is no incentive for teams to build batteries that last longer. Makes sense to me.

    8. Safety, primarily. The FIA wanted the batteries packed away securely so there’s no weak point in case of a crash.

    9. Craig Wright says:

      The battery packs are going to be 200kg in weight overall, which would make them (pulling energy density figures from wikipedia) at least 85 litres in volume. That’s a huge and heavy component.

      Of course you could mount them as a single unit on slides for quick changes, but you’d end up with a heavy mounting structure, compromising the layout of the car and the centre of gravity. If you make them non-removable then it opens up scope for the casings to be used as load bearing components of the chasis, saving weight, and to distribute them in a more ideal layout to balance the car.

    10. VJ says:

      I seem to recall reading somewhere that this was abandoned for safety reasons. The argument – IIRC – was that the batteries have a lot of energy and are very new technology. Combined with the pressure of making a fast pitstop, this was considered to be a dangerous combination.
      Not sure if true or not, but seems plausible to me…

    11. Luigi V says:

      Formula E has said in the past that battery swapping would not be possible.

      I don’t know the exact reason but I assume the battery is the wrong shape/in an awkward position that makes battery swapping easier said then done. That F1 inspired chassis doesn’t do battery packaging any favours.

    12. BriKei says:

      I couldn’t agree more. It’s like refuelling only with a new battery pack instead.

  5. Horoldo says:

    I hope a network in Australia pickup this series.
    Have you heard anything James?

  6. Luke says:

    Since when was Daniel Abt a DTM driver?

  7. AndyFov says:

    I’m all for this series, and for electric vehicles in general – I’ve just ordered a Nissan Leaf – however that “fan boost initiative” is one of the most artificial and stupid ideas I’ve ever heard.

    It’s a motor race, not an election. They might as well let the race run its course and let Simon Cowell pick the winner from the top 10 finishers if they’re going to take that route.

    1. Random 79 says:

      “So Simon, who’s our winner?”

      “Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish…you’re all rubbish…”

      “Cheers for that Simon, see you all at the next race!” :D

      +1 on everything – if it’s a race series, just let them race.

      1. AndyFov says:

        Where will this end?

        It’s a path that leads to And and Dec appearing on our screens at half time on FA Cup day going, “If you’d like Steven Gerrard to be shot with a tranquilser dart add 01. For Luis Suarez add 02.”

      2. Random 79 says:

        And then of course the bookies will be straight in there with odds on who will wake up first ;)

        The scary thing is though to some enterprising TV exec that idea of yours might not be as preposterous as it seems.

    2. And we can all wear high waist band trousers and dark aviators at all times.

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        Apart from DC, he prefers his white hip mounted skintight trousers.

      2. Random 79 says:

        You seem to have an obsession with DC’s trousers.

      3. Gaz Boy says:

        Every other weekend from March to November its pretty difficult to avoid DC and his tighty whities unless I switch to Sky……………but do I want to pay Rupert and Mr E my cash? Nah, so I’ll have to just put up with Mr Coulthard and his sartorial elegance………

  8. Dave S says:

    Allowing viewers to vote for a “fan boost” sounds gimmicky & artificial. It would never happen in the pinnacle of Motorsport F1…. Oh sorry I forgot we have DRS & double points for the last race. Silly me!!!

  9. Andrew M says:

    I don’t like the fan “push to pass” voting thing, makes double points seem like a sound and reasonable brainwave. Still, glad to see some recognisable talent in the series.

  10. marc says:

    James do you know if this series is being televised by any of the major channels rather than a mention on a motor sport news headline

    1. James Allen says:

      Hope so

      It will be announced soon

  11. Andy says:

    The car industry has dabbled with electric cars for years, it isn’t going to happen – they are slow and impractical. Hybrids, or more importantly power units similar to those now in F1 will be the way forward.

    I can see Formula E going for 3 years or so before it starts to struggle. Things such as this happen not because people really believe in it, but because they think it’s something that they want to be seen doing, hence the involvement of Richard ‘jump on the bandwagon’ Branson.

    The cost of staging it on street circuits doesn’t quite make sense, I think it would have more longevity if it was a support race at GP’s. Having said that, every time I watch the WTCC you can play spot the spectator, that series continues to be held despite the poor attendance.

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      Totally agree. Nice idea, shame about the reality. Electrical motors on their own are (literally?) a non starter, however electrical motors generated by the waste product of the internal combustion engine is a more practical and sensible idea.

    2. Quercus says:

      I bet you’re wrong.

      And I like the idea of this series being run at a time when there’s no F1 on the telly. Great to get a ‘fix’ over the winter.

      BTW: I bet Lewis will be good at this. Wasn’t he a champion radio-controlled electric car racer?

      1. Andy says:

        I could well be, especially as it’s a pet project of the FIA.
        You make a good point about racing over the winter, although fans potentially deciding the winner isn’t racing in my view.

        I would like to see it turn into a true hybrid series, limited fuel and only petrol or electric can be used at any one time.

    3. janis1207 says:

      Exactly my thoughts!

    4. All the major manufacturers are rolling out EVs, so they obviously feel there’s more potential for the electric car than has yet been realised. There are major drawbacks; but the Formula E motor comes from the P1, so in a funny way, Formula E is helping to subsidise F1 and help pay for amazing machines like the P1. I don’t think anyone would want less of that.

    5. Phil R says:

      Try telling the 20,000+ Tesla or 100,000+ Leaf owners that… Though yes Hybrids in the short to medium term are going to have more market share.

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        On balance though, the customer base for electric only motors is tiny at the moment. As for the Tesla; didn’t it keep going wrong every time Jezza tried to drive it????????

      2. Phil R says:

        You must remember Top Gear is only for entertainment purposes now, and whilst its very good at that (and a regular watch for me!) everything has to be taken with a pinch of salt. Take last night’s show. Chernobyl is perfectly safe to go on tours, with Hammond, Clarkson and May all pictured wondering around:

        https://twitter.com/search?q=top%20gear%20chernobyl&src=tyah&mode=photos

      3. Gaz Boy says:

        Apparently, there was a legal bust up between TG and Telsa that was rejected by the British courts. Apparently, Telsa has also had a legal ding-dong with VW as well…………..
        As for Chernobyl, I wonder if Mr Putin mentioned it in in his negotiations with Mr E when talking about Russian safety and competence? Just a thought……………….

      4. Andy says:

        I agree that there is a market for EV, not a very big one but it exists. Car manufacturers produce them because they need to be seen doing it.
        The problem will always be the range and charge time, not forgetting the power stations that happily belch away in order to provide the electricity to charge them.

      5. Phil R says:

        Renault Nissan aren’t doing it for that reason, they have to make it work as it’s the only way the company can survive, or else they will get stuck in the middle (not premium enough to compete with the German makes, not cheap enough to compete with the Chinese) like half the rest of the european manufacturers.

        Audi reduced it’s EV investment, with the person responsible who was touted as a possible head of the group moved on instead:
        http://www.autocar.co.uk/blogs/motoring/audi-needs-catch-race-mass-market-electric-cars

        As for the emissions, this is an argument that holds no sway. For a start you have a choice as to your electricity provider such as Ecotricity. If you are with someone like EDF chances are your power is coming from Nuclear energy anyway. Even with a coal powered EV, the emissions are still better as the motor is around 95% efficient, not around 25% of a combustion car. Finally all of the pollution is placed outside of congested population areas. In 2008 there were 4000 deaths attributable to air pollution in London alone:

        https://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/environment/clearing-londons-air/air-pollution-and-public-health

    6. Alex says:

      Maybe your are right, but based on the Tesla current valuation in Nasdaq seems that the market is having serious faith about this kind of vehicles, the traditional companies are starting to have their own ideas like Toyota which is proposing hydrogen as their bet in this field, I’m a bit more optimistic than you about it. On the other side, Tesla market value could be a bubble but that will be seen in no more than a year I guess, those bubbles tend to explote quickly.

  12. Daniel M says:

    This sounds fun, exciting and different. I’d watch it for the novelty value if nothing else, and see if it was any good.

    But, fans influencing the result? What is this, Big Brother on wheels? We are ‘spectators’ for a reason. If the series wants to gain sporting credibility, then then introducing false gimmicks will make the whole thing look like a gimmick – exactly the impression I’d have thought they’d be keen to avoid.

    1. Ha, or X Factor with wheels. The Fanboost thing is definitely controversial. I wrote about it here: http://current-e.com/faster-horses-twitter-fanboost-and-fast-and-furious/

      1. Ted says:

        @Ross: Enjoyed reading this, thanks

  13. Seán Craddock says:

    James what do you think should FE be doing right now to gain interest in the sport? At the moment the viewers will mainly be F1 fans who want to see how it turns out, but there’s no talk about it among other people. Surely the TV deal should not be paid tv right? That would hurt it’s viewers.

    I still think -and in fairness it is too early to develop such a system- that there should be online streaming like Dorna do with MotoGP. It’s the way of the future so it’s fitting that it would be done with FE. Also it could be used as an acid test before using it for F1

    1. The promoter has said from the beginning that they want to steam races live over the internet. How that works alongside possibly paid-for TV remains to be seen!

      1. Rather, “stream races live over the internet”. Though steam powered racing could be rather cool in a nostalgic sort of way.

      2. Seán Craddock says:

        MotoGP is doing the same, it’s going to be streamed online and on BT

  14. Andy says:

    For this to grow it NEEDS to be on BBC or ITV.
    Also hope It’s an open test at Donington.

    1. Hamish says:

      Fingers crossed – wonder if it’s something channel 4 would take on?

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      There is a reason that every time that the Concorde Agreement is being discussed Ecclestone makes sure he has Ferrari on board. Without them he has to fight the whole gathering of teams, with them on board there is no possibility of a break away.

      Without Ferrari, there will be little worth to the championship. The drivers do not have an ounce of charisma between them so that immediately throws the proverbial spanner in the works and whatever the developments in technology, this will go the same way as A1GP and GP Masters.

  15. JEZ Playense says:

    This is really interesting. If this is done correctly (ie well from a fans point of view & profitably to ensure longevity) this could force F1 to finally put their house in order!

    I will be ath the trial run weekens this summer to find out.

  16. Grant H says:

    “Fans can vote for a driver to get a boost” why stop there why not have double points in the last 3 races too….. Give me a break!!!!

  17. Laurence says:

    I’m actually quite looking forward to Formula E. It’s nice that it is taking place over the winter months as well.

    It’ll be interesting to see who gets the TV rights. I really hope its free to air but I have a feeling BT might snap it up.

    1. Grant H says:

      if it does not get onto the major free channels I cant see it being very big, this will also be critical to sponsorship etc

  18. Fireman says:

    “The idea is that this technology will filter down to the automotive industry and help to counter range anxiety.”

    This sounds really great! It’s such an important part of future cars. I doubt this series has any trouble attracting sponsors and car manufacturers.

    1. Yep. Renault is already deeply involved. Can’t be too long before the likes of Audi, BMW and Nissan come along.

  19. Fantastic update, thanks James.

  20. Sid says:

    would be nice to see non pay TV get this. No chance it could grow any other way.
    Worried about a lack of noise from the cars making it appear boring.

    1. They won’t be silent. And the lack of noise doesn’t worry people at football games, cycling, sailing…Hopefully there’ll be a big enough crowd to keep things feeling lively!

      1. kris says:

        Have you seen this?
        I dont know who would pay to watch this.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Us2uA7IQDD0

      2. Yep, saw that. And yes, it’s not a great noise. But the cars aren’t going to be doing tiny little tight circles, they’ll be whipping along a track where aero noise should count more. And with free or cheap tickets, there ought to be a lot more people around the periphery.
        Or the organisers could always do a new line in earplugs. Kind of ironic though if people who were moaning before the races about lack of noise end up complaining about the noise actually being produced…

  21. Mark Williams says:

    James, what are your thoughts on the potential of this becoming the next F1? There is no doubt some trouble within F1 at the moment and the future looks far from certain.

    could this actually catch on or will it be another A1GP?

  22. Erik says:

    “This Formula E series, what do you think? Will it happen?”
    Such a sad question, comming from someone in F1. For me it highlights how closed minded and sheltered some of the F1 elite are. Todt approached F1 directly with this concept years ago and they all dismissed it out of hand. Here we are a few years down the track and we are on the verge of an exciting new frontier for motorsport, F1 by it’s own ignorance, deciding to sit out this monumental shift.

    As market research clearly shows, kids these days are not ss interested in cars as my generation. Moreso they care about their health and see electricity as a fuel that’s clean and cooler than petrol because it powers their magical iPhones and gizmos. Fuel on the other hand is a polluting dirty product that we are cannot do without. With some powerful people involved in F-E, Formula 1 is running the risk of losing it’s moniker as the pinnacle of motorsport.

    James I think you are correct in your observation that car manufacturers are moving towards hybrids instead of pure electric. For me it has a lot to do with range anxiety as you say, but also a real limitation of battery range. This series will however develop the technology through competition (which really is the best way to develop something), and as such hopefully battery range will improve, and thus a shift back to pure electric road cars will occur. One thing is for sure, no one in the car industry is moving towards pure petrol vehicles.

    The writing is on the wall F1, move with the times or fade into irrelevance. The hypsters don’t give a toss.

    1. Quercus says:

      I think you make some good points. Pity about the last sentence.

      1. Erik says:

        Yeah, I’ve been an F1 fan for ages so perhaps my frustrations with the sport’s beurocracy were showing a little too much in that last sentence, but just wanted to hammer my point home.

    2. cbush66 says:

      Where do you think the power comes from to charge the batteries? Fossil fuels………….Doh!

  23. Shane Pereira says:

    I’m sure these cars will sound fantastic…I can’t wait to hear the roar of the engines!

    1. Quercus says:

      Think positive: at last the noise will be dominated by the squeal of tyres. Should be very interesting.

      1. Shane Pereira says:

        I don’t see anything ‘positive’ in the sound of squealing tyres…

    2. Random 79 says:

      I’d be very interested to know how you managed to post a comment from the year 1950 ;)

      1. Shane Pereira says:

        I was being ironic…

      2. Random 79 says:

        Yes I picked up on that – I was being facetious ;)

    3. Rob says:

      “Roar”, of course, is not what modern F1 engines do either (2014 – who knows…). In the last thirty years, it’s been more of an elephant’s nasal-trumpet call!

      I for one am intrigued at what we’ll be able to hear with the fuel-air explosions gone. Tire scrubbing and squealing, and, I would think, some transmission whine?

      I look forward to a racing series to follow during the F1 off-season activity! Something new and daring, for a change.

      F1 is going grey (like many of us here…).

      1. Shane Pereira says:

        Please see my reply to “Random 79″ [directly above this post].

      2. Random 79 says:

        ^ See the difference? ;)

  24. R says:

    Viewer assisted push to pass?
    That sounds so incredibly stupid I must be old.

    This series has potential but I am concerned its going to date itself before it begins with this changing cars and teenage appeal.
    Regardless if I enjoy it ill watch, if its aimed at stupid people they can do as they please since I wont be following.

    1. Random 79 says:

      It’s good to be old :)

      The teenage appeal will come when they try to do a Twilight tie-in.

      Ack – I gagged just from typing that sentence…

      1. Or when they get Miley Cyrus to present.

      2. Random 79 says:

        They might even get her to compete :)

        I had a quick look at your link and had to laugh.

        Near the bottom of the page:

        “Behold: the motor generator unit that is (probably) powering Formula E”

        Yep, everything’s going to plan and is right on schedule…probably…

      3. @Random79 – haha, point taken. Just trying to be accurate! The organisers are keeping the detail of the actual components in the car very close to their chests. As are, less surprisingly, the suppliers (NDAs, boo). Though McLaren did tell me in Sept it’s the same electric motor from the P1. Deduction, my dear Watson (probably).

  25. Jose Sanchez kowalsky says:

    God, and villeneuve mentioned something like artificial racing on f1. What would he think about this fe thing!
    I hope i am not longer around, when this nonesense fe series take over from f1. Unless somebody in the fía, start using common sense and fix all thats wrong with f1.
    Drs, tape recorders during driver interviews. Lack of poder and weak sound, starts behind the safety car, tilkedroms, interferente from officials on racing incidents. Do you want me to keep on going?

    1. Random 79 says:

      Yes, but just so you know we’re recording everything…

    2. gpfan says:

      No. Please do not go on.
      One’s English is atrocious.

      1. Jose Sanchez kowalsky says:

        But much better than other peoples spanish, for instance.Right?

      2. Superseven says:

        LOL!

        What’s the Spanish word for “Touché”?

  26. Longy says:

    Sound great – apart from the push to pass driver vote, I was getting really excited about formula e until then. Now as I see it driver skill will have less to do with the outcome of a race than how well they present themselves. Why cNt anyone just give us real taxing anymore?
    Why does everything have to be so full of fads?
    In all honesty I will probably watch the first race and (if this p.t.p. nonsense turns out to be what it looks to be AND they don’t just cash in by flogging it straight to pay tv) will probably not make it to race 2.

    And it looked so good.

  27. Longy says:

    Damn my fat fingers and autocorrect! I of course meant “sounds great”, “can’t” and “real racing” – my taxes are high enough!!

  28. Tom in Adelaide says:

    I just find this whole “two car” thing really disappointing. For a series that is supposed to have road relevance it’s a massive missed opportunity to push development in battery swap technology.

    On an unrelated note – this series needs to highly accessible to audiences. Free and unrestricted online streaming of races or bust I say. Throw some straight talking gag free drivers into the mix and it might have a chance. I think people are tired of the boring corporate veneer that has covered F1 in the last decade.

    1. Random 79 says:

      It is road relevant – why only sell you one car when they can make you buy two? ;)

    2. Rob says:

      Hear hear! Online streaming, I would pay a reasonable monthly rate to an organization that offered high-quality programming streamed on the net. I wish that F1 had the foresight to transform their business model to a more direct-to-consumer one… It’s hard for the established leadership to grasp that potential, because of the success of the national broadcast rights model over the past 30 years. Why not charge premium $$$ for the direct or same-day IP stream, and some reasonably discounted fee for 24h+ delayed stream…

      1. Alex says:

        Agree, MotoGP has done that already and it’s fine so far. Also now many people is not paying a traditional TV subscription because there are online services like Netflix and others calling the attention. And those traditional companies are also evolving with free access to the online content like HBO Go and so on.

    3. Here’s hoping! A few Webber-type characters would really make the interviews interesting!

    4. Basil says:

      Well said!

  29. Proesterchen says:

    What a useless series full of gimmicks and spitting in the face of anyone actually in electric mobility by telling everyone that you need two electric cars if you actually want to geht to the finish line.

    Silly, offensive, just plain frustrating.

  30. Aero.Racer says:

    It’ll be interesting to see how this series changes as battery/ motor technology advances. The technology currently requires a race format that’s a bit of a cluster, but in the spirit of racing, it’s only a matter of time before there are restrictions as to battery size, capacity, etc.

    It’s a good choice to have electric-only, as the hybrid solution seems to be a short solution until the battery technology advances further. They’re “skating to where the puck is going to be” for road cars.

  31. Craig in Manila says:

    55 laps during testing certainly sounds impressive unless, of course, the laps were only a couple/few hundred meters in length…?

    Anyways, I certainly hope this gets off the ground and becomes a stable and ongoing formulae.

    Not sure about the “fan boost” thing though….

    1. Details of the track that December’s testing took place at here: http://current-e.com/formula-e-car-puts-tyres-to-track/
      Likely to be the same track

      1. Craig in Manila says:

        What is your role in the new series ?
        Seems that you are answering a lot of queries/comments on this topic.

  32. Richard Jackson says:

    I’m looking forward to this, but I’m a bit uneasy about the continued attempt to make racing appear energy friendly. I know that reads as blunt but I want racing, not conservation of energy. F1 is definitely heading in this direction with many races actually a 3 section split of race, conserve for 2/3 rds of the time, and then race again as they sprint for the finish. Ask Mark Webber for an honest opinion on this…

    Electricity gets made and stored, often by non green methods such as coal and nuclear generation. Just because you’re not producing harmful emissions as you use it, doesn’t mean they weren’t a by product of its generation. I’m really keen to see how this series looks in practise, but without actual racing at it’s core it won’t last.

  33. Anil Parmar says:

    I’m looking forward to Formula E but the fan boost thing is the most stupid idea I’ve ever heard and it won’t be taken seriously by motor racing fans or casual fans as a result.

    2 races makes more sense to me. A qualifying session, a race and then a reverse grid race maybe?

    1. gpfan says:

      I’ll start by saying that I can not
      abide the MotoGP swap bikes thing.
      Either change tyres, or learn to ride
      in the wet.

      Also, I dislike the F1 gimmicks (DRS,
      double points, pointlessly bad tyres
      … ).

      So, I will now say: Exactly! in regards
      to your post.

      WSBK has qualies and two races, and I
      like your reverse grid idea (maybe, the
      top five finishers of race one?).

      I will only pay attention to this series,
      if they eschew the silliness, and get on
      with it.

      I also approve of a previous suggestion
      about allowing the pilotes to be humans.
      ;)

  34. JR says:

    There doesn’t seem much buzz around watching squashed golf buggies whirring about a street track, while people text in with ‘Fan Boost’ to decide the winner.

    1. Andy says:

      They should drop off pints of milk on their way around, bonus points if they can sell a customer yoghurts.

  35. Thomas says:

    It can be an interesting serie
    But skip the fan-boost

  36. DTX says:

    ““No other sport allows direct interaction from fans, allowing them to affect the result,” says Agag.”

    Perhaps because the concept moves directly away from being a sport and directly into being rigged ‘entertainment’

  37. George Debenham says:

    It sounds that this is getting more and more gimmicky, for the sake of the show, than F1. It’s sounding less and less like a true racing series.
    James you have asked plenty of questions about the cars etc. but have you found out what progress has been made with the circuits, surely it will be quite an involved and lengthy process to set up all the infrastructure for a race weekend.

  38. Mitchel says:

    I think the series has a lot of potential, but might get ruined by a stupid format.

    Fans voting for someone to get a ‘push to pass’? That’s just s load of guff!

    I feel like a moany old ‘Points of View’ commentator :)

    If the field was large enough, why can’t they do something like split the times from qualifying and have a ‘lower tier’ half hour race, followed by an ‘upper tier’ half hour race. Same opportunities for each team every weekend, and maybe the ‘lower tier’ race could be Half the points of the ‘higher tier’ one…

  39. Alec Tronnick says:

    Who cares? FE will go the same way as AGP.
    And wow, haven’t they got some big names… Lucas Di Grassi ! Hold me back!
    I give it 2 years max.

    Let’s concentrate on the more important things… 27 days to go!

    1. Jose Sanchez kowalsky says:

      Important things? You must be think moto gp. A little longer than 27 days then.

  40. Sebee says:

    The more I look at these things the more LMPish they look to me. I think these endurance series should be concerned more, not F1. They race on tracks middle of nowhere. FE will race close to the people.

  41. Dingle Dell says:

    the cars look fantastic but fans voting which driver gets to use push to pass is artificial and stupid.

  42. Colin says:

    Good to hear the progress on this James! I for one am looking forward to when this gets going. I hope they’re going with the FTA model for TV, at least initially, otherwise they could lose traction with interested fans, and as has been pointed out with F1, going with the pay tv model restricts your audience which makes it less attractive to sponsors.

  43. chrisralph says:

    What is the a matter with me that I must force myself to feign excitement for this series?Am I so wedded to the combustion of fossil fuels in reciprocating engines (don’t even like the variance to rotaries) that I cannot be moved by it? My head says it’s inevitable and a good thing, my heart just sighs and looks the other way. Am I alone in this absence of passion?

    1. Random 79 says:

      Personally I think it’s interesting and it has potential (that might be ruined by things like vote-to-push-to-pass) but if it doesn’t pan out then I’ll get over it.

  44. Mmm says:

    I’m really looking forward to this series! However I’m a little worried that they are going to use city tracks (having Monaco and Valencia in mind…).

    How wide are these cars going to be?

    1. Random 79 says:

      Depends – has anyone signed Montoya yet?

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        Or Ralf Schumacher, Patrick Tambay and Derek Warwick? Too many cheese and bacon baguettes by the look of it……….
        As for Monty, he should be sponsored by McDonalds ……………….plenty of opportunity for free promotional products for him to sample……ha ha!

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        Just adding to this issue and Ralfie in particular, I remember ITV showed some footage of Ralf as youngster, looking a bit, ahem (cough) rotund, and Jim Rosenthal quipped “I think its fair to say Ralf has consumed a fair few sausage’s in youth!”
        Ah, good old Jim Rosenthal, I do miss Jim, with his witty one liners. He was an excellent anchorman when ITV showed F1: measured, precise, not partisan yet tinged with that very British dry humour. Ah well, we’ve got EJ for, ahem (cough) measured analysis as well as DC and his skintight trousers………..

  45. Josh says:

    Not liking the ‘Fan Boost’ idea :-S Why can’t the racing evolve naturally? It seems unfair that driver A, who has gained a position on their own merit could lose it simply because the fans want to see driver B, overtake (because he’s more popular or because the race isn’t very interesting).

    ““No other sport allows direct interaction from fans, allowing them to affect the result,” says Agag.”

    Good!

    1. Andy says:

      His name backwards is Gaga, enough said.

  46. Cliff says:

    I wonder what the final format will be? Earlier announcements by the organizers indicated the cars could not go for 30 minutes. The plan was two pit stops-car 1, car 2 while car 1 charges, back to car 1. Now they plan to run one car for 30 minutes. Are they cutting back on power?
    If they really want to be other than a under powered form of Formula 1, they need a better format. Electric cars can provide great racing. Here is my suggestion: http://www.proev.com/Misc/RE/130325/wpFE4.htm

  47. Richard says:

    “A UK TV deal will be announced in the next two weeks.”

    Let’s hope it’s not the usual Sky rubbish so the series dies before its even got stated

    1. Richard says:

      Please, come visit the Netherlands and you will not complain about bad coverage ever again.

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        I’m very sorry to hear that Richard, and a bit surprised too, I always thought Northern European TV was excellent quality for sport.
        Anyway, can you access the BBC website? You can watch 9 live races their and watch highlights of the other 10. Beware though: you will have to see Eddie Jordan’s shirts and David Coulthard’s skin tight trousers which could be traumatising, but otherwise, it’s a first class service on the Beeb.
        It’s a pity the BBC hasn’t got all 19 races live, but there you go, Mr E for you…………………….

  48. James Clayton says:

    “Agag is setting great store by the “fan boost” initiative, whereby fans can vote for which driver should get a special push to pass opportunity in a race. This would see fans actually entering into the competitive picture of the race and influencing the outcome. Fans will vote via social media using #drivername”

    Well there goes my interest in the sport

    Honestly; what is wrong with the world today?!

    1. Random 79 says:

      “Honestly; what is wrong with the world today?!”

      Too many people given too many opportunities to express too many of their own opinions he says as he expresses his own opinion ;)

  49. jpinx says:

    Not sure of the technology, but could there not be a stretch of under-road charging or two built into the tracks ?

    1. Grant H says:

      like wipeout

      1. Random 79 says:

        Now there’s a good idea – on-board missiles! :D

      2. Voodoopunk says:

        …fantastic idea, bring on the weapons…

    2. Sure. It’s called inductive charging. They’ll actually be using that for the safety cars while stationary in season one, and for the racing cars in season two. Doing it while moving is another challenge altogether though. http://current-e.com/safety-cars-unplugged/

  50. Voyager says:

    Please be on free-to-air in the UK. if it is not visible to huge swathes of the public it will be an irrelevance to them.

    1. Random 79 says:

      I think it will have to at least start out that way if they want the viewer numbers, but pay TV is always lurking around the corner…

      1. Dave Emberton says:

        You might get highlights on ITV4 at some random part of the week if you’re lucky, but don’t expect the BBC to be cancelling Homes under the Hammer to be showing Formula E live.

      2. Random 79 says:

        I don’t expect anything from the BBC: I’m counting on Network Ten for my race viewing needs ;)

      3. Random 79 says:

        …which gets it’s F1 feed from the BBC…nevermind :(

  51. Joseph Simmons says:

    I’m very interested in this series and the potential of these race cars! Will we witness a Formula E car achieving 200 mph down a straight? So far, the initial cars are stunning!The organization seems to be on top financially with some strong buzz about the series. Half time for the races seems to make sense for commercial and entertainment time too. They have secured race dates in two US car cities; Miami and LA. I planned on attending the Miami race next year.

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      Miami? When Top Gear visited that particular city, Jezza informed the viewers that if you accidentally visit certain sections of the city, you will be shot. Dead. Just be being there. Is this really a safe venue for a race?

  52. franed says:

    Interesting, Williams will have gained more experience than other teams in battery construction, control/cooling which could help with F1.

    1. Alex says:

      Yes, but the irony is that Renault is also heavily involved and… well it doesn’t look fine so far for them in F1, but it’s good for Williams anyway.

  53. Olivier says:

    I am really looking forward to this.

    I love the all electric technology. Will they also have ERS or some sort of system to harvest energy? This could reduce the need to switch cars in the near future?

    Fan Boost? Don’t like. FE is not supposed to be Circus Maximus …

  54. Jenks says:

    “If you want Christian Klien’s car to be faster than the car in front of him, push your buttons……NOW!”

    “Alternatively, if you’re Christian Klien’s employer, and you want his car to be faster than the one in front, activate your fake Twitter accounts………NOW!”

    1. Ha! Satirical, but good point. Wonder how they’ll get round this.

      1. Random 79 says:

        By ensuring that all the teams are cheating equally?

  55. Quercus says:

    I hope everyone realises that the ‘fan boost’ rubbish is a precursor to a premium rate charge to vote for your favourite driver to win.

    We’re just one step short of ‘Strictly Come F1″ with drivers being paired up with celebs. How’d that be for dumbing down?

    1. Voodoopunk says:

      …at least Hamilton would be guaranteed to win…

    2. VJ says:

      It should be extended to other sports!
      1000m: vote now to drop babanapeels on the track
      football: vote now to open the trap door below the goaly
      basket: vote to raise the hoop 30 cm
      cycling: vote to decide on whose shoulders the cameraman will take place
      swimming: vote to activate the waterjets! Supports on the front row pay a premium to control the firehoses along the pool

      I think you can guess I also don’t agree with it. At least DRS is similar for everybody. We don’t want interaction, we want proper action and information (I for instance like all those technical things).

  56. Richard says:

    Who cares?

  57. Mike from Colombia says:

    “Fans” will vote on push-to-pass buttons.

    These people cannot be considered as fans.
    Please substitute the word fans for “public”

    Push-to-pass is the t*rd in the punchbowl for this series.

  58. Ali says:

    Formula E has the support of the corporate world, but I can’t see how it’s gets the fans behind it. I can’t see how this gets on FTA in the UK. Anything that’s non-F1 just doesn’t get any attention in the UK.

    What annoys me is the announcement of the Formula E driving club? Why don’t they just announce which drivers driving for which team. We all know Marco Andretti is driving for Andretti.

  59. Dmitry says:

    I hate the idea of fans being involved in “overtaking” aid, hope it never reaches F1.

    And about this electric hype – nonsense until the world solves the issue of getting the energy. At the moment it is in majority coal, oil, nuclear power – nothing clean.
    So until wind, solar and marine power plants are the majority – there’s nothing to talk about.

    1. Dmitry says:

      Just to clarify – construction of “clean” energy palnts is also totally “unclean”, but what matters is the the overall environment impact of such plant during its lifetime.

  60. Bo Amato says:

    If F1 continued down the road it had gone for the last 10 years it would have lost to technology and formula E. F1 has embraced technology with the new engine, once they get the sound right fans will be happy again. Turbo’s sounded great right before they banned them last time.

    F1 should put formula under its umbrella on the F1 series and gain control to make sure it stays on top. There is a place for formula E, as there is apple computers, in the land of PC. Arrogance is a killer.

  61. Dom Charles says:

    This series is off the mark. It needs to develop Hydrogen Fuel cells to develop the needed energy instead of batteries. There is more environmental impact with batteries than with fossil fuel engines. When will people realize this point. And don’t forget the dangers associated high voltage for mechanics and track marshals,along with the danger of silent cars coming up on marshals and pit crews. Silence may be golden to reflect and to sleep, but not for fast moving sports. Remember wars were won with silent arrows.

  62. Jim says:

    I have to ask what is the point of powering cars with electricity? It seems the most backwards of steps to me.

    Instead of putting a fossil fuel directly into a vehicle, there needs to be a coal fired power station burning fossil fuels, which is then transmitted out to where it’s needed, which is then used in the vehicle.
    So, it’s the antithesis of ‘green’ racing.

    A petrol engine has been refined over the years to become staggeringly efficient (in some cases).

    Now, designers/engineers want to apply batteries to a vehicle, simply to enable it to go. These batteries are horrendously ‘un-green’, necessitating digging up huge swathes of China and elsewhere in order to mine the metals required.

    Electric cars are such a backwards step, they still require fossil fuels to generate the electricity, and they need highly poisonous and destructive devices in order to store that electricity.

    1. VJ says:

      You assume that fossil fuels are also used for electricity generation. However, there are various alternatives: nuclear, solar, wind, water, tidal, from waste burning or even waste energy from factories. For example, a waste burning powerplant in my city generates electricity, hot water (centralized hot water infrastructure!), heating (also centralized) and clean water (they filter the water before it goes through the turbine, the steam is not relased but captured and sold to a factory that needs clean water.

      Your comment is quite true for many current countries, but electric cars disconnect the energy user from the energy producer, which in a next step allows to upgrade the energyproducer. :-)

      1. Dmitry says:

        Do you realize waste burning is also nowhere near “green”?

        Regarding energy production – let me open your eyes – somewhat “clean” energy sources are exceptions in the world.
        The almost 90% of the world electicity is generated using coal, oil and gas. Nuclear energy is not developing at any meaningful way, and by the way it can’t be considered clean at all – just ask someone from Pripyat and Fukushima… disasters apart – just think that nuclear waste can’t be simply disposed or burnt…

      2. VJ says:

        You have a point. Athough latest statistics are at 80% of the world energy. Some countries have quite different numbers (e.g. Belgium: 6.5%).

        The change is coming. But we need to have the technology ready when that change comes. Which means starting research NOW, when it is not fully necessary, but when we still have the time for a learning curve. The amount of electric cars is still very limited, but it provides a huge testbed for real world usage. And when cleaner energy sources are more common, the transportation sector would be ready for it.

      3. Jim says:

        Well give me a shout when the cars have a wind turbine on the roof, wired to something other than batteries…..

    2. Dmitry says:

      Thank You!

      I already started thinking that no one else sees this situation in the same light!

      Unfortunately it looks like big corps got their way and brainwashed\misled the majority of other people – they all think modern electicity is “green”…

      1. JohnBt says:

        Correct, like recycling of paper has stopped as it’s even more toxic.
        Energy warfare from corporations will be a huge cover up for the so called ‘green’ thingy. It’s more like dollar green!

  63. Goob says:

    Will we ever get to see a proper racing series? This artificial stuff is pathetic, and extremely boring.

    No to DRS and No to Fan DRS… totally pathetic.

    If Indycar could get rid of those annoying ovals, I could at least get into that type of racing… I just despair at the situation we are all in. I feel really sorry for the great drivers out there (not Vettel or Button)… they would have done great in a proper racing series, but now they must avoid using their skills so some annoying button pusher can get to the front of the grid.

    1. James Clayton says:

      I’m seriously thinking of following Indycar. I think it’s probably the purest form of racing these days? I mean the tyres are decent and as far as I’m aware there’s no DRS or anything?

      Watched the Indy 500 race last year as it followed directly after one of the F1 games. The commentary was really hard to bear, though.

      I don’t mind a couple of ovals a year but I think Indy is pretty much 50/50 at the moment is it not?

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        Each to their own, but swapping F1 for Indycars? That’s a regressive transition, surely? Keep faith with the old world……….and F1.

      2. James Clayton says:

        ” Can’t imagine Europe, Africa and Far East switching to Indycar in the same way can’t imagine the European food industry customer base switching from fine dining to burgers.” [sorry it's from a different post of yours]

        I don’t know what part of Europe you come from, but in England, at least, it’s quite easy to find a burger bar – and pretty much every pub that does food will have at least one, more normally a selection, of burgers on the menu.

        AAAANYway I digress. I’m not going to keep following F1 just ‘because its F1′. I’d love to keep faith but double points, pirelli and DRS are I fear just the start of the circus. So I’ll probably start following Indy once I get a sports-enabled cable package. Whether I continue to follow F1 depends on how interesting I find the Indy races, and how much more F1 does to discredit itself.

        Do I expect a lot of people to follow my lead? Absolutely not; I’m just a nobody commenting on somebody elses blog. The *real* trigger would be if one of the big names, the champions, said “I’ve had enough of the F1 gimmiks, I want to race” and made the switch. If either Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel, Kimi or Button were to do that (and with Hamilton’s management team – who knows?), they’d take a sizable following with them. Not enough to rock the F1 boat initially, but certainly enough to start the Indy bandwagon rolling and if the Indy management were sensible they would follow this up by trying to persuade another couple of racers to follow, and perhaps securing some races in classic F1 venues (Spa, flat out with no fuel restrictions and tyres that actually last, anybody?)

        A more European friendly style of TV coverage, especially commentary would be required, that’s for sure.

        I doubt any successful driver will leave F1 for Indy, certainly not without getting another championship under their belt each, so this is all pretty irrelevant, but the point is that it’s theoretically possible for Indy to gain momentum in Europe.

      3. Gaz Boy says:

        My food analogy was a bit ironic, but the point I was making was that Indycar and F1 are culturally very different, that’s all.
        My issue with Indycars are the ovals. To me, running at 200 Mph + next to concrete is sheer lunacy.
        Also, Indycar and NASCAR safety record is diabolical. I know any racing driver accept the risk, but in F1 it’s about minimising that risk. Nobody wants to witness a loss of life, we’ve lost Dan Wheldon a few years ago. He was only in his mid 30s, what a waste of a healthy young man’s life. The sad thing is, had Dan been racing in F1, he might still be with us. Yes, F1 had its problems in the past, but in those days FIA was run by the buffers in blazers to whom the safety issue was “if you don’t like the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Thankfully, safety – and attitudes in F1 have changed.
        I watch F1 to be entertained, not to watch somebody crash to his death. Indycars safety leaves a lot to be desired.

      4. Ali says:

        Indycar actually has far more street courses/road courses than ovals – there’s only 6 at the moment (much to my annoyance). It’s definitely the purest and most entertaining form of racing at the moment – just needs people to watch it.

      5. Gaz Boy says:

        Problem is, Indycar customer base is North America and Australasia………..and that’s about it. Can’t imagine Europe, Africa and Far East switching to Indycar in the same way can’t imagine the European food industry customer base switching from fine dining to burgers.
        That’s the problem: F1 is haute cuisine and champagne………Indycar is burgers and Budwesier.
        Just saying.

    2. Dom Charles says:

      Indy Cars are not any better, yes they use ethanol, an alcohol made from corn. It has one safety aspect that fires can be extinguished with water. That is the only green part of it.Distilling the alcohol is not green.

  64. Bayan says:

    I wonder if allowing ground effect aero would make this series competitive. Maybe it will be fine just as is. Hope it is televised or something so we can at least judge for ourselves.

  65. Warren G says:

    Voting via social media for a driver to get an unfair advantage of his rivals? Wow! That must be the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard of. There is very good reason no other sport does it.

    About the cars – swapping cars is still a disappointing aspect, rather than batteries. Another thing, do these cars have any kind of energy recovery systems to recharge the battery somewhat and extend the range?

    1. JohnBt says:

      So each team now need four cars for each race, a new meaning to greening.

  66. Warren G says:

    Just did some reading on keeping an EV charged and learned that on average in the US, an EV consumes 450 kwH worth of electricity per month just for a range of 40 miles per day.

    I’m quite energy conscious and our household of 4 uses around 400 kwH per month in electricity. Could be better but I’ve seen far worse. The big concern is that it will double my electricity consumption every month to drive a full EV. Still cheaper than petrol, but if the whole point is to go green, the biggest contributor of carbon emissions in our country (South Africa) is electricity production. 80% of the CO2 pumped into our atmosphere every year is from coal burning power plants, with vehicle emissions only contributing 5%.

    So where, exactly, does the idea that EV vehicles are green come from?

    1. Random 79 says:

      Exactly.

  67. JohnBt says:

    ‘Fan boost’! A sign of desperation gearing up for a new generation of short attention spell fans. This is truly insulting. James, even my young son said, “WTF dad”.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Kudos to your kid, there’s hope for the future yet :)

  68. fox says:

    Sooner or later we will refuse from burning oil. Hence Formula E is a research towards alternative powers.

  69. Richard says:

    Main problem with Formula E: The “engines” make no sound at all.

  70. Ted says:

    I am disappointed with the universal dislike of the ‘fan boost’ idea, from reading the comments on this thread. Please remember that this is a brand new series, so there is no history or tradition to disrespect, as I understand there would be in F1 for example. Instead this is an opportunity to redefine what we mean by ‘sport’, to bring it into line with modern culture which is all about interaction with fans/consumers, or readers of blogs such as this. Like it or not, TV shows such as X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing are the most popular shows on UK TV, and are all about identifying and rewarding the most popular competitor, not the *best* singer or dancer. Also, externalities in sport are nothing new – what about the advantage gained by the team with the most sponsorship, or the well accepted ‘home advantage’ gained by a team in football or other sports? Personally I am excited about this opportunity for fans to shift the balance of advantage during a race/season based upon their own interests, and think it will encourage the teams and drivers to compete in a different way – a competition for publicity and popularity as well as technology, machinery and driver skill. I encourage others commenting here to also be a bit more open to change and this new idea. As a final thought; how might Vettel’s 2013 season have been different, after Sepang, if fans could reward or penalise drivers based upon their actions on circuit?

    1. James Clayton says:

      “Like it or not, TV shows such as X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing are the most popular shows on UK TV, and are all about identifying and rewarding the most popular competitor, not the *best* singer or dancer.”

      And this is a good thing?

      “As a final thought; how might Vettel’s 2013 season have been different, after Sepang, if fans could reward or penalise drivers based upon their actions on circuit?”

      And this is a good thing?

      1. Ted says:

        @James: If the question is “How to ensure the success of this series?” then I think the answer is “Yes”. Probably by appealing to a different audience to existing motor sport series.

      2. James Clayton says:

        I don’t believe this *is* a good way to ensure the success of the series.

        I’m sure there are plenty of ways to ensure the success of the series without alienating your core potential audience..

        The reaction amongst potential followers of the sport has been negative. I shall no longer be watching it, and many people here have also said they have lost interest in doing so. Therefore they have alienated their main potential market to go after a new market which is completely unproven in the sector.

        Yes shows like x-factor are popular with the 8pm-10pm audience who like to see famous people [self mod]ing themselves, or unknowns trying to become famous; but do you think the same kind of people are going to start watching a car race, full of people they have never heard of, just so they can vote for people they’ve never heard of? I don’t think they will, unless you start actually putting celebrities in the race seats – even then you’ve got the problem of the races being in the middle of the day on a weekend – this is X-Factor rerun territory, not prime time live cash in.

    2. Thought provoking comments

    3. Craig in Manila says:

      If that is the way that Formula E wishes to proceed, then they have 100% lost all of my interest.

      And please do not think that I am not “open to change” as you put it.

      It’s just that I like to watch sport, not gameshows.

    4. Random 79 says:

      I see what you’re saying, but let “reality” shows be reality shows and racing be racing.

    5. Goob says:

      The whole idea is based on stupidity.

      Dumb fans will waste their money to influence the outcome of a race. How moronic, on so many levels.

      The race result will simply be a measure of stupidity of fans.

      Might as well let the fans remote control the car too…

  71. Steve says:

    Formula E(urovision Driving Contest)

  72. Alexis says:

    Electric or not, what prevents this formula from going the same way as A1GP?

  73. VJ says:

    I’m really looking forward to this series, even though I fear it may see a bit of a bumpy start (e.g. the car switching may put people off). But when it becomes an open series, then things get interesting. :)

    While it is true that road cars are evolvig to more hybrid rather than pure electric, this mainly has a practical reason: range and usability. You cannot charge quickly, so there always is range anxiety. Having the E series pure electric will for sure advance battery technology and energy recovery. This will benefit future hybrid cars, and may evolve to the point that a pure electric car will have proper range as well.

    As for spectacle, I wonder if we will not see some different race patterns/strategies, due the torque being present constantly (a Tesla Model S, the 4 person sedan, performs similar to the latest Corvette in a drag race!) and the energy recovery needs.

    I do love the fact that they plan city races: that gives it something unique. And it can be hosted in cities that would not allow normal races due to emissions.

    1. Matthew Taylor says:

      I agree that once teams are producing their own cars it will become significantly more credible. To me, it seems like that is quite a hurdle to achieve and at this stage it must be a fairly remote possibility.

      I wish them well anyway. If it is broadcast on terrestrial TV in the UK I will certainly be watching.

  74. JimT says:

    We have to have electric cars, simply because we’re running out of oil, so petrol will not exist in the future. Motor racing will be the driver for development, as it always has been. Unless this Thorium concept actually happens…

    1. Mike from Colombia says:

      Al Gore would be most happy with this.

  75. deancassady says:

    I like the look of the larger wheels.

  76. Fernando Cruz says:

    “Agag is setting great store by the “fan boost” initiative, whereby fans can vote for which driver should get a special push to pass opportunity in a race. This would see fans actually entering into the competitive picture of the race and influencing the outcome.”

    This may be the weak point of the series but not so much as people think. We don’t like but it seems it will be used only once in a race, so it won’t have the influence purists fear it will have. So i hope most of the races will be decided on track and not by the vote of fans.

    Drivers like Buemi, Di Grassi, Senna, Alguersuari, Klien, Sato, Bourdais or Luizzi are very good ones. But what about Paul di Resta? It’s a shame he’s not part of the FE Drivers’ Club. Kobayashi would also be a great asset had he not gone to Caterham. It’s also a shame other good ex-f1 (or other potentially f1 material if given proper chances) are absent. Some of them maybe want to see how FE will be before committing to the series, while others may think it is too late to come back to single seaters…

  77. Timmay says:

    If i wanted to see slow cars go round & round trying to use as little fuel as possible & trying not to break down I’d watch formula1 2014 not this rubbish.

  78. tyler says:

    Cant put my finger on why exactly, but this series has me possibly more excited than the upcoming F1 season. Its fresh, unique in many ways, and the cars are flat out cool looking.

  79. Steve W says:

    Hell, I think practical all electric cars in the Real World are at least 10 years away, probably more. To have this hyped-up racing series based on this new technology now is a waste of money and marketing…

    1. Random 79 says:

      But if Agag (or whoever) waits another ten years to get the ball rolling it will be too late. You have to give him credit for at least one thing: he’s pretty much ahead of the curve.

      If all goes well then in ten years time F-E will have matured into a well known and successful racing series well placed to showcase the new electric car market.

      At least that’s the plan – we’ll see how it pans out :)

  80. Michael says:

    I do like the idea of Formula E. But for me it will just never beat the real thing. The sounds, the speed, the history.

  81. j s r says:

    I have n idea why dont they cut some slots in the track and the fans? can control the cars from their iphones

  82. Tom Haythornthwaite says:

    Sorry, I’m not going to read all 200+ comments so I don’t know how many people agree with me, but if there is public voting for push to pass I PROMISE I will not watch a single Formula E race.

    1. Random 79 says:

      You wouldn’t have had to look too hard to find some that agree with you ;)

  83. Forin says:

    …first floated the idea of Formula E in April 2011, the car industry has moved on from pure Electric cars towards plug in hybrids, which can run electric in cities and then have a small petrol hybrid engine for long distance motoring. …

    You heard of Tesla Model S right?!

    Ps: I did a test drive yesterday of P85+ with my expectations fully set. And there were 2 words I was repeating for 10 minutes during the drive: WOW and Ridiculous. It was completely over the top. It was like I was playing Gran Turismo, only it was real and 1000 times better. WOW!!!!!!!! Seriously, it was that good!!! WOW!!!!!

  84. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

    Cars look cool, but also very exposed and fragile!

    So, let me see, the business plan goes like this:

    A free app downloaded to your Ipadhonedroid device (‘includes in app purchases’ in small print)

    App opens and gives info on all the FE cars and drivers.

    Single use ‘fan boost’ available for $0.99

    Sack of ‘fan boosts’ $24.99

    Chest of ‘fan boosts’ $69.99 (bargain!)

    The winning FE team sacks their aero team and employs some smart software engineer hackers to write a bot program giving their driver constant fan boost picks for the entire race…

    Never going to work, they should stick to tried and tested boost pads in the track the drivers have to go over, and perhaps bananas they can throw out the back when another car gets in their slipstream.

  85. Hamish says:

    I think formula E hasn’t quite worked out what it is. If it is to become a development series ( after the rifst year) focussing on electric efficiency, improved batteries and management of the amount of energy available, with the lessons being passed on to road cars, then, “fan-boost’ has no part (winning should depend on driving, tactics and, above all,. a car with good batteries electrics etc). Also push to pass should be unlimited, if you can produce more power for this, you should be free to use it. Tactics should be free, endurance and attack cars, whatever the team thinks will enable them to get to the finish first. If the idea is primarily entairnment for the fans, do whatever they think will attract them. But don’t then expect it to work to develop electric cars.

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