Formula E series targets reverse calendar for debut season in 2014
Innovation
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 May 2013   |  10:48 am GMT  |  155 comments

There has been a raft of activity recently around the new FIA Formula E series, set to debut in 2014 and JA on F1 has recently interviewed Alejandro Agag, promoter of Formula E.

Agag says the new zero emission motor sport championship is targeting a reverse calendar to F1, which will see the series start in September and end in June.

Also recently the series announced that Bangkok, Thailand is a candidate for one of the two remaining slots on the 2014 calendar. The city is close to a Formula 1 night race and Formula E is dealing with the same promoter. Formula E has received formal letters of interest from 23 cities across five continents. The final calendar will be presented to the FIA for its approval at its World Motor Sport Council meeting in September this year.

The championship is set to start in September 2014 with 10 city centre races – eight of which have already been announced in the form of London, Rome, Los Angeles, Miami, Beijing, Putrajaya (Malaysia), Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.

Swiss watch brand TAG Heuer has also joined the series as a global partner.

Agag, whose BARWA ADDAX team won the GP2 teams title in 2008 and 2011, added that he hopes to unveil the electric car which teams will race in the inaugural season this September at Frankfurt Motor Show, before giving the machine its first run in public in October.

“We are seriously considering a calendar which goes the other way of other motorsport championships, with a start in September through to June like sports such as football,” Agag told JA on F1. “It’s gives us a unique position. We could race when other racing championships are not there.”

The Formula E races will feature single seater cars, with the initial design for the car pictured below, powered exclusively by electric energy. For the first season, teams will use a car supplied by a single manufacturer, but from the second year onwards, Agag wants to encourage other manufacturers to enter the sport.


“We will use the same car for everyone in first year, but we want it to be an open championship so we will invite other manufacturers to join in year two,” he said.

Races will last an hour and will feature the drivers swapping cars after 20 minutes, because that is how long the current generation battery will last.

Drivers will return to their original car after 40 minutes when it has been charged, for a final burst. Moving forward, Agag hopes the technology will improve to the point where a car swap to enable a recharge won’t be necessary.

“Races that last 20 minutes would be too short,” said Agag. “People may feel curious about the concept of swapping cars but this will change as we show the development of batteries. In the second season, the battery will last 30 minutes and in the third season 40 minutes. We will then probably not need to swap car and people will be able to see the advance in battery technologies.”

It’s this kind of technological advancement and sustainable approach to racing which Agag hopes will ensure the future of the championship.

“We think the sustainability angle is the key attractive element,” he said. “It is sustainable and the championship will have a positive effect on the quality of air in host cities, by promoting the use of electric cars.”

In line with that mantra, Michelin, who won the tender to be the championship’s tyre supplier, want to apply whole new technology to championship. “Michelin want to create long lasting tyres, green tyres which make cars go for longer with better economy and cost the consumer less,” added Agag.

The promoter also wants to bring fans closer to the action by having the pit lane further away from the track and allowing spectators to get up close along a long pit lane entry, which could be around 500m.

“As the cars won’t be going that quick in that area, we are talking to the FIA about not have fences so that the public can get closer,” he said. “We are working on many different things like this and adapting them to the city environment.”

One of those things Agag mentions is bringing the sport to another demographic through online gaming.

“We are working very hard on an online, real-time video game,” he said. “It’s a huge technology. We want kids to be able to play with a shadow car in real time during the race. That will catch the attention of a different segment of the market.

“When today’s kids buy a car, the first car they buy could be an electric car if they have been playing with an electric car computer game or they have been watching an electric racing car in a championship. They will be more inclined to buy electric so it’s a long term project.”

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1
Grahame Taylor

Just a thought – 10 teams, each with two drivers and, therefore 4 cars. 40 cars in total and so 40 batteries (plus a few spares). It takes a 32volt supply to power one of the Nissan Leaf fast chargers.

So, where is all the power coming from? Will there be a bank of Diesel generators spewing fumes in order to supply all the electricity required to power the chargers and, of course, all the other teams activities. Kinda defeats the object of a ‘clean, city centre motorsport’.

2

Why not use KERS to recharge the batteries as the cars go along?! o_O Or would that not be sufficient to keep the batteries fully charged to make the cars last 40 minutes?

3

I just want to be on record as saying that this series is going to be a COLOSSAL waste of time and money.

A big part of my enjoyment is the SOUND, and besides, ALL cars in F1 use less fuel than ONE logistics flight to one race, and why does racing have to justify itself? It’s R&D/Art/Entertainment, for pity’s sake!

What next? What about the fuel burned in the cars of the spectators who come to see the race?

It’s like applying draconian emission laws on Lamborghini-a thousand cars a year, that get driven a couple hundred miles a year. WHY?

I won’t be tuning in for this series. Silent little vacuum cleaners whirring around…sounds like LOADS of entertainment. For men with clipboards, long white coats, and a slide rule…

Besides, now that “global warming” is officially disemboweled, dismembered, and dead…WHY this now? Even the fear mongers had to ditch their precious buzzword and switch from “global warming” to “climate change”, since the inconvenient truth is that the global temperature is COOLING.

Nobody would try to legislate Kimi into sharing priceless pearls of wisdom in his post-race interviews, with a big smile on his face, and with textbook grammar, pronunciation, and enunciation…because that’s not what he’s here to do. Likewise, you wouldn’t ask a painting or a sculpture to wash the dishes or prune a rose bush, so how about we just let F1’s relevance be the fact that it is R&D, and that it makes MONEY and BEAUTIFUL NOISE in abundance. Let it be art. Because it is.

p.s. The Nissan Leaf? NOBODY is buying it. They anticipated 20,000-30,000 sales a year. They actually sold a little over ONE THOUSAND. Why? Batteries are still (at best) ONE EIGHTH the energy density of petrol. And we’ve got enough petrol to keep us happily racing and driving for the next thousand or so years. The Yanks have found reserves to rival and/or exceed that of the Saudis. So stop stressing about the hilarious and certifiably untrue claims of scarcity and “global warming” (which, again, as a term and concept, has been DITCHED by the enviro lobbies). Let art be art, entertainment be entertainment, and racing be racing.

4

The Zero TT has been going for a few years now and seems to be going from strength to strength.

The design of the bikes seems to create a knife edge balancing act between using too much power and using up the battery. They are still hitting 100mph average laps.

All the technical development pressure is on better batteries and that’s a great thing for the future of electric vehicles.

Ya need it done quickly and properly – ya gives it to the racers

5

Seems a series designed for a company like Tesla. Hopefully, in a few years they’ll be profitable enough to afford an entry.

6

“Races will last an hour … swapping cars after 20 minutes, because that is how long the current generation battery will last. Drivers will return to their original car after 40 minutes …”

Doesn’t this mean that each driver will need 3 cars per race for the first season? Or is the race going to be configured to have a 20 minute pause after the second car change? Getting even more expensive by the minute!

If they really wanted to, the tracks could have charging lanes or areas for recharging through induction (horrifically energy inefficient at the moment if I remember correctly, but it’s still in early stages at the moment). Put them off the racing line, force a choice between a quicker lap or a longer lasting battery.

I think this could be a decent thing to watch on the telly. As has been said, the atmosphere at the actual race is likely to be muted without the complete visceral package unfortunately. Maybe it would work as a support race.

7

I know it’s probably the way to go, and I admire James for being a forward thinking ‘modern man’ supporting the concept. 🙂

However I just struggle to get excited about the idea and can’t help to think back to the sound of the early 90’s Ferrari V12’s through my rose tinted spectacles…

8

A comment on this September to June schedule… Here in the USA, the IRL in its early years tried something similar by starting the season in the fall and winding up with the Indianapolis 500 in May of the following year.

The problem they had with that was the company sponsors they had objected because these companies ran their sponsorship budgets on a calendar year basis and not split from one year to the next.

A similar problem here?

9
Stone the crows

You know, I’m not interested in EV’s but I have no objection to this series. It’s a motorsport and any new motorsport is good for motorsports in general. At the very least it will take the heat off of F-1 and the FiA for not being green enough, and for that F-1 fans should be thankful. So what if it’s not perfect? Give it a try and see what happens.

10
Carlos Marques

They could have made this a truly exciting contest. Force races to be 1 hour and give everyone 20 minute batteries. No car swapping. That’s it. Let them race.

I would love to see how Ferrari, Red Bull, etc. would go about solving this problem and making sure their car is the one with the most laps at the one hour mark…

11

Very cool, and glad to see their is some weight, and big names behind this. This is the wave of the future whether anyone wants to admit it or not. Internal combustion engines are crude and inefficient, always have been, always will be. I’m excited to see how this series pushes battery technology.

Instead of harping on it and pointing out the cons, any real race fan should be excited at the thought of something so innovative.

Good article James.

12

‘Agag says the new zero emission motor sport championship.’ Bet the are still delivered to the track using diesel trucks!! Are the factories zero emission? IMO we’re being sold a load of pr bull!

I like the idea of elec racing, its the future, but its hardly zero emission is it!

13

The motorsport world needs another top line championship. There are too many good drivers sitting around doing nothing.

If you get pushed out of F1 your choices are trying to bag a limited number of LMP1 seats, or maybe indycar. Says a lot that top line F1 drivers are now going straight to GT racing and DTM.

14

I wholly support this series.

I have a suggestion for open discussion, considering the limited range and duration of a single charge from the batteries. Could there be a electrified circuit laid onto the road surface for the weekend? There is only one fastest line around any course, imagine a contact-less charging pad, rather like your toothbrush or mobile charger that “tops up” the car as it circulates. Nothing physically attached, and the car is free is move offline for an overtake or to avoid debris etc. But whilst on the fastest line the car is receiving a new load of juice, similar to the Maglev train? Something to conjure with?

Also, what support races are there going to be on the calender? Shall we see other eco motorsports, such as tin-tops with hybrid cars from the road competing on limited provisions? Something that looks and appeals directly to the non motorsport fan that purists like us appreciate, but something for the casual viewer?

TAG Heuer as a premium partner is very nice, and I am sure they will use their F1 timing credentials. But we also need to see more everyday brands such as Duracell, Engergizer, Rayovac, Ecover, The Body Shop etc etc to build on the green credentials. NASCAR is chock full of day to day brands, unlike F1. Maybe that is why more fans like to wear the multicolored merchandise with labels emblazoned across them on a Wednesday in Walmart, not just a Sunday afternoon at the circuit?

All merchandise should be fair-trade and with environmental manufacturing credentials too. Lets start this new series off with all i’s dotted and t’s crossed.

I wish it the best of luck, and I hope it surpasses the global awareness of F1 in 5 years – RedBull style of marketing and social network sharing appeal is required – get the kids involved, not us old grumbling fuddies!

15

This is very exciting and waaaay more interesting than Formula One, plus no political baggage (yet). Not understanding all the comments about noise. The silence is very appealing.

16

Didn’t the drivers from yester-year’s formula 1 had to run to their cars at the start? The car swaps could be a fun thing to watch. A bit a shame it is necessary, but: if they have to use the same car for the 3rd leg, it means they have to get the batteries recharged in the time of the 2nd leg. That would already be quit a feat.

I do hope it is not too early: if the car swap takes away too much from the race, it might turn people off.

As a showcase it is great though!

I just don’t really get why people complain about the (lack of) noise. I’ve never been to a race, but somehow engine noise does not do much for me. It is the race that matters…

17

Brilliant idea, I enjoy MotoGP and F1 more than any other motorsports so when winter comes there is usually nothing. If they can attract some top open wheel drivers it should be a good watch.

18

I do like the idea of a reverse calendar. This will be great for satisfying my cravings for some open wheel action during the terribly long, in my eyes, off season.

Just a quick one James,

Do you think this series will become another key avenue for drivers hoping to make it the big time. I would love it if it became another feta series to Formula 1

19

+1. Lack of F1 is painful 😉

20

Don’t see it as a stepping stone, but its a good place for the drivers with talent pushed out of F1 by pay drivers..

21

Uh-oh…

How long has the longest-standing senior/veteran race series lasted?

22

Is that what they are intending it to be?

23

Being electric will these cars run silent?

If so this series will not last long enough to have races that last 40 minutes.

I would not travel to a race, pat for accommodation etc to watch electric (silent) race cars

24

i was at the erfd electric karting even in the paris bercy stadium at the end of 2011.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PBJrP5eGkE

while the racing was pretty much same as with a normal karting event, without the engine sounds the atmosphere was dead & it all seemed much less exciting.

i’ve been to other races featuring electric vehicles & its always the same, regardless of how good the racing is the atmosphere is always less, there’s always less of a buzz & the whole thing always comes off as been somewhat unexciting.

when you have the sounds of the engines, when you can feel the vibrations of the engines & when you can smell the petrol fumes it adds so much more to the event & its surprising how much of the atmosphere & stuff you lose when those things are taken away.

25

So the driver changing cars could be an influence on the result depending how quick they can do it? Cool.

26

Cool but potentially dangerous in terms of running around the pits, doing up straps, etc. I know they have this covered in endurance racing (about which I confess to knowing little these days) but the need to refuel/change tyres presumably provides a period within which driver changes can be carried out safely.

In terms both of safety and of keeping the focus on the car/driver performance rather than trying to gain an artificial advantage in the pitstops, might it not be wiser to have a fixed minimum stop time for all competitors? I’ve always found overtaking through pitstops a very tedious part of F1.

27

well james, you have ‘sparked’ considerable interest. without too much effort i have been digging around and have found some interesting data. a british company called bluebird marine have applied for patents on their battery/drive systems that allow for 246litre li-ion battery cartridges that can be changed via inbuilt loaders in 10/15secs during a pit stop.

these packs are predicted to have enough power to drive 20/40 high speed laps of a circuit. according to them they envisage as batteries become more powerful and with less volume that pit stops could be reduced to around 5secs.

it will be interesting to read more after this years le mans race as there are new designs/cars etc etc etc being showcased. might i suggest james that you consider setting up a section dealing with this form of racing on a permanent basis where people could not only read and learn but be made aware of the latest ongoing developments. i know that you have nothing else to do!!!!

28

I’d like to see a Formula H for hybrid evolve into Formula E when the battery can last 60 minutes.

Then you would still see the technology advance, without this elephant-in-the-room of needing two cars.

Is John Prescott going to be involved in promotion of Formula E? I don’t think we need to give any luddites the amunition…

29

Teams can also develop the various energy recovery systems to recharge the batteries. Maybe some teams can do it better than others and push development in this area as well. As this series is in addition to F1 and other racing series it can only be a good thing.

Living in Los Angeles it will be interesting to see where the run the course.

30

20 minute races doesn’t sound anywhere near as daft as changing cars every 20 minutes. How long does the average Club race last? Over here (NZ), “Club” race day format is typically three 6, 8 or 10 lap races for each class so the drivers and the spectators get plenty of action – and it’s not as hard on the cars as fewer, longer races. I suppose the organisers think that, for a “Top Tier” race series, they need to have longer races 🙁

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