London Olympic Park race a highlight as Formula E 2014 calendar and car outline are released
Innovation
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Mar 2013   |  8:29 pm GMT  |  228 comments

The promoters of the new Formula E series have released details of eight city centre races that will form the basis of the new zero emission motor sport championship next season. And we want to hear your thoughts on the initial designs for the new car.

The host cities are London, Rome, Los Angeles, Miami, Beijing, Putrajaya (Malaysia), Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. The London event will be particularly exciting as it is believed to be based around the Olympic Park in Stratford. Two more venues are expected to join the calendar before it is finalised in September.

The Formula E races will feature single seater cars powered exclusively by electric energy. The series is targeting drivers of the calibre of Kobayashi, Alguersuari and Kovalainen. Races will last an hour and will feature the drivers swapping cars after 20 minutes, then returning to their original car after 40 minutes when it has been charged, for a final 10 minute burst. As the EV technology improves these “recharge periods” will disappear, highlighting the advances in EV technology and range extension

London Mayor Boris Johnson said, “Zero emission world class motor racing is a scintillating concept and I am hugely keen that London be involved in the birth of Formula E. It has the potential to highlight the impressive strides being made in the manufacture of electric vehicles and hosting a street race could also be of considerable economic benefit to our city.”


The organisers have also released some preliminary drawings of the cars, which will be powered by electric motors, featuring McLaren technology. The designs are from Dallara.

What do you think? Give us your views of the designs in the comments box below.

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1

Zero Emissions? Where does the juice come from to [re-]charge the battery packs – damn great power station on the National Grid.

There’s no such thing as zero emissions!

2
tom in adelaide

This car swapping business is madness. It’s a E series and the best solution is to build two complete cars?

3
Stone the crows

In order to keep the carbon footprint as low as possible I suggest we enlist the services of Nick Wirth to design this Formula E car totally with CFD, that way we won’t waste any precious resources to power windtunnels. The future is now! I know it can be done, oh wait, yeah Nick Wirth… never mind.

Seriously though, what I see is another attempt to “greenwash” the FiA/FOM. As far as we Formula One fans should be concerned its a good thing because it deflects scrutiny away from our favorite motorsports and allows the powers that be to say ‘see we care about the enviornment too,’ without inflicting more superfluous nonsense on an already over spending series.

It’s a win-win for the FiA, if it does well, they’re heroes, if it doesn’t do well then they’re hero’s for trying and won’t take any heat for a flop, for when it comes to enviornmentalism good intentions matter most I’m afraid to say.

As for this as a genuine motorsport, I have my doubts. I have no objections to racing electric cars or cars powered by sails or rubber bands for that matter, but I wonder about a series that is concieved entirely on paper and then put into action, rather than the way most popular motorsports have sprung up, which is through a couple mates trying to see whose fastest, and eventually it turned into a race and then from one race to several races, and finally organized into a series.

This Formula E is all more than a bit contrived, and we’ve seen how contrived series do in the contemporary context anyone remember A1GP? How about Superleague Formula? What happened to them? The drives were good, the cars were fine, but they were always a bit superfluous, and behind the scenes a managerial house of cards.

All I can say is ‘good luck with that’ to the people involved, but don’t be surprised if you’re looking for employment few years from now and the promoters are no where to be found.

4

I don’t put much significance on these drawings…they just look like a doodle of a single seater with wheel covers. At this stage, I doubt engineers could understand enough about the aerodynamic and air intake specifics until they have a working model.

I hope they look much different, otherwise they will be too similar to the go-kart-like shells we see in Indycar and lower formulas.

5

So, how does one fully recharge a batter with ‘zero emissions’? Seems a bit of a misnomer to me.

6

You’re totally missing the point.

It’s to start a new e series which can push the technology, wider understanding and acceptance of electric vehicles.

Do you expect them to run on wheat grass and transport all the cars to each race via horse and cart?

I’m tired of people saying electric cars aren’t green or zero emission because the electricity has to be generated somewhere else.

The cars themselves are zero emission- that’s the first important step. The second step is to address each countries power generation as a separate issue. That’s for governments to sort out, not the car companies.

7

I for one am very excited by the prospect of this and will be buying a London ticket, as soon as it becomes available 🙂

8

Interesting, but from a marketing and public perception point of view, the ‘pitstop’ idea will simply reinforce the percpetion that electric cars are not practical alternatives to an internal combustion engine.

9

It amuses me that this is supposed to convince people that an electric car is a viable alternative, but the having to change cars kind of defeats that objective.

I’m a bit surprised not to see a canopy or similar. If there really is a move to introduce these to F1 I would have expected to see something here — it’s much easier to introduce something from the start than add it later.

All that said, my initial skepticism has abated and I’m quite keen to go and see a race. It will be great to see cars racing around some beautiful cities.

10
Craig in Manila

Now, if they could just incorporate the batteries into the wheels then they could pit to change tyres and, voila, the four batteries are changed at the same time.

Now, how do I register that idea so I can make some money out of it ?

11

Too late, Bernie just did…

12

aahh…. yawn. I would rather watch a dodgem car race. Lenoir would be rolling in his grave…

13

I’m looking forward to seeing how this works out. Certainly, if I get a chance to go to the London event I would do so, as I think it could make for a very interesting spectacle. I get the feeling that perhaps too much is made of the noise aspect in motor racing nowadays – personally, I’d much prefer to watch some interesting racing if it came to a choice between the two.

Also, for those who think this will somehow lead to a quiet car I would recommend you try driving an electric go-kart some time. You’ll find out pretty quickly it’s anything but noise-free…

14

I’m in two minds. It certainly looks interesting as most open wheel race cars do, but it neither does it really push the envelope like I think it should. If they don’t have an internal combustion engine and associated systems and hardware, why not try something radically different ie not being restrained to the same basic shape and compromises as a car with an ICE?

15

I would like to see a more radical and futuristic design. If they almost literally copied the Adrian Newey future F1 car design I would be happy.

http://www1.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Adrian+Newey+Goodwood+Festival+Speed+JKGTcPic4EGl.jpg

http://www.gtpla.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/red-bull-x2011-frontquarter.jpeg

http://www.carenvy.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/x1-2.jpg

James, which batteries are they proposing to use? Hopefully they are going for a safe chemistry.

I would much prefer them to swap the batteries during a pit stop. I assume they didn’t want to do that because they thought it might be dangerous. If they had a concern like that then they could have done slow pit stops where they had a set time they had to stay in the pits once they came in.

I wonder if they considered using Lithium Titanate batteries. They have lowish energy density, but are very safe and can be charged very quickly. I suppose a 5 minute recharge might be even too slow for a race.

16

You might be on to something there with the Newey design – it’s certainly better than the ‘me-too’ type layout in the visual. If these cars are to overcome the handicaps of inadequate range and concerns about inadequate noise, they need to be visually very different. Look at the excitement that the Delta Wing design created. But would Dallara take the risk? They haven’t stayed in business this long by being radical.

17

I *really* like the idea of Formula E. I don’t know why people think the cars will be silent.

150mph wind isn’t particularly quiet, neither is the sound of 4 tortured rubber contact patches, at race speeds these things will have their own unique sound.

I hope they also take the broadcasting rights into the 21st century as well. Imagine the viewing figures you’d get if this was broadcast via youtube, rather than the soon to be anachronistic TV companies.

Also I think that the idea here is that a futuristic race series that doesn’t use petrol engines will push development of Electric and associated technology and as a result 20 years down the line we’ll be driving vehicles that use tech that evolved from this. Yes the shipping teams around the globe is going to use a lot of jet fuel, yes the “carbon footprint” of these teams will be immense, it’s not supposed to be the “Green” way to race. It’s supposed to be an effing cool new race series that will attract a new generation of engineers. Necessity is the mother of invention, and if your team NEEDS to develop a new way of going faster, then who knows what might be discovered along the way.

18

It’s a starting point. I will definitely watch the London race. Very exciting indeed.

19

So. The electricity they use was generated in a coal fired power station 50 miles away, and they look and sound like giant Scalextric. A huge non-event, except for the frothy brained who somehow think this is green

20

James,

are their races going to run on different weekends to F1? Or will they avoid clashes by scheduling the races at times that are different to F1?

21

It is a great idea and I really hope it works. The circuit line up is certainly a step in the right direction.

It would be great if a few of the F1 teams would link up with the new teams to offer the series a bit of legitimacy like they do with GP2.

Even the most casual of F1 fan is now aware that the majority of the grid is made up of those with big wallets. Indy Car in no longer a viable alternative and with so many well know drivers out of a seat it would be great to see names like Senna and Kobayashi back on our screen racing a in a good single seater series.

Throw in a few of those who have good GP2 records but lack finance and you have the making of a good series. I like that there are so many rookies this year but we have lost quite a few good benchmarks. Formula E could be the bridge between GP2 and F1.

22

A noiseless car race? I’ll pass.

23

They look like the cars last used in the now defunct A1GP. I knew they would turn up somewhere. I guess recycling is a good practice too.

24

I thought the same, should be a support series. But on further consideration, the inner city setting is an integral part of the concept. Speeds will be less, and ideally aero will be of minor concern. Thus it could be a series with real validity to R&D of new tech, as opposed to current f1 which has virtually none.

I could give a monkeys rear how they look, as long as they’re as fast as they can be designed to be.

There is a huge pool of driving talent available, the series could develop the prestige (of that sort) that goes with Prius ownership, and ‘carbon credits’, and cities might just vie for the honor.

BUT, changing cars IS fairly ludicrous, and in lieu of rapid charge (paint drying), battery packs must be designed to be pit changeable, in race.

Yes, I am skeptical. But with some imagination, I can not only seeit, I can see it being novel and interesting.

For now, I’ll take my 12c and f1, but don’t want to be too future-averse.

25
vuelve kowalsky

this championship at this particular point in time it’s making me sick. I don’t know how i will see it in 20 years time. I hope it’s the same, otherwise it would mean i am dead.

26
George Debenham

Perhaps the support races will feature mobility scooters with ex racing champs driving them.

28

As long as they are swapping cars during the race, they should go all out and use the old Le Mans-style start. The drivers would run to their cars to start the race.

29

I really like the idea and I think eventually F1 will be electric, but I think this is too soon. Switching cars mid race whilst charging up the first car sounds a bit daft and only highlights electric cars failings, rather than promote them. For my money they either need to have short races with one car or wait till they get batteries that last long enough. But good luck to them, I’ll still watch.

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