Formula E series targets reverse calendar for debut season in 2014
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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this may sound terribly simplistic but why can’t each car have, say, two sets of batteries with each one say, being ejected from either side and replaced by an identical set during a pit stop? a bit like plug and play....plug and drive?

seems to be rather extravagant having two cars for each driver. this way they could have two car teams.


Yes. Exactly.

It should be like you describe; I was wondering exactly the same thing, just a pit stop for fuel.


They should have a ninja style obstacle course separating the two cars - that'll liven things up.

Iain Carnegie

People need to be open minded to this in the first few seasons. I see no problem with having 2 cars to start off with. People seem to forget that it wasn't that long ago when F1 teams turned up with multiple cars and engines they would constantly swap out over a weekend at every race.


I would imagine these batteries will weigh something, and the practicality of changing them would not exist also there is probably weight distribution reasons for building them into the car


Not practical. Chances are, these things will have a few dozen batteries, spread along the floor. Unless they figure a way to change whole floors faster than it takes a driver to unstrap himself from one car and jump to another, it won't happen.


Yes, it will be quicker to change cars than to change batteries safely - batteries are an integral part of the car, and a single battery block that would be straightforward to swap would also be unsafe and impossible to keep cool in a racing car.

I think they could have still tried to design cars with replaceable batteries (e.g. the entire floor being changed with it), just because changing batteries looks better than drivers changing cars - but if they believe that battery performance will improve so dramatically within a few years that battery replacement will no longer be necessary, they perhaps thought it was not worth the extra effort.


My guess is that the batteries would be hard wired to ensure the best possible connection and power transfer.


I think that was an idea thrown about but they decided it was too dangerous. But I agree, it seems a bit awkward to change cars, but I think its only a minor issue...


Or they could have 2 or 3 20 minute races at each meeting.


I imagine the batteries have to be packaged in such a way that they can't be easily and quickly accessed to enable a low centre of gravity. Probably at least two packs, one on each side of the car.


Because the batteries will be very big and heavy.


Also, having whole cars that only last twenty minutes is just going to reinforce negative stereotypes about electric cars.


Yes but the whole point is that after a few years when they aren't changing cars any more people will appreciate the advances in technology extending range.

This is a showcase for EVs

Surprised some readers here are still living in the 20th century



And if the series do not last for a few years? People are going to laugh at the notion of having to switch cars. That does nothing to highlight the technology or show that is ready for mainstream, which battery swapping would do.


It is an FIA series so I think they are thinking long term!


James I understand your point, but I am slightly concerned that the way the event is structured will inevitably draw attention to a key current (no pun intended) limitation of electric cars, and may in fact reinforce prejudices.

That said, I hope it doesn't because I'm rather excited about the series and what it may mean for the future.


That is the risk they take, but I think the right point will be reinforced as the years go on.

What you and other fans perhaps don't perceive from the outside is how much pressure there is nowadays from big companies and sponsors wanting an answer on where F1 and motor sport is going in terms of sustainability. All major sponsors ask that before committing to F1 and that isn't going to be reversed.



This is amazing new ground for motorsport. Well done James for keeping us informed!


Your assuming James, that the series will still be around in a few years.


There seems to be a lot of weight behind it, I'd be surprised if it wasn't


Batteries that only last 20 minutes sounds pretty 20th Century to me. What you're saying is they'll live with the bad publicity through the first few years, then hopefully with some big manufacturers getting involved when the batteries improve there will be an obvious correllation between the series and road cars?

That assumes people will still be watching after the first few years though...

At the rate things are going the kids he's talking about wont be able to afford petrol anyway by the time they can drive.


No, I think competition will drive forward the development of the batteries which will help the racing and the wider EV world.

It's a showcase for motor sport's wider relevance to society etc.

Kind of obvious really


exactly what i thought ! , i bet its to do with health and safety etc !

seams silly for E formula to have spare cars just laying around ? as i guess teams can have two cars ? so thats 4 cars they have to take ! ??

also last time i saw , there was only one offical team !?

I do hope it works , as i cant wait to actually see a new motor sport type be born !



Yes agree 2 cars sounds expensive and a bit unnecessary. It would be cool if in a pit stop the battery pack was changed, would give teams the motivation to find faster and faster solutions for battery pack exchange which would bring an extra competitive component as pit stops have become in F1 already. Looking forward to seeing how this new series takes off, especially with some of the races in city centers with fomous land marks.


I'd say for the moment the biggest problems would be the size of the batteries, the packaging of such a system and the very high risk of getting electrocuted while switching them over. Given time I would imagine someone will come up with a system like you suggest, but for now the technology just isn't there in a reliable enough format unfortunately.

David (Sydney)

Maybe Formula E cars should tow little trailers with enough battery charge to last the entire race...


I suggest each car has a series of trailers with differing numbers of batteries in each.

The cars are fed from whichever trailer is furthest back. When its power is deployed the car pits, dumps its trailer and switches to the next one in.

Teams could elect to employ a 4 trailer strategy, meaning they'd be carrying fewer batteries from several laps in, or they could chance a one trailer strategy which would entail no time lost in the pits but the gains there would be offset by having to tow several tonnes of dead batteries for the whole race distance.

This idea is quite clearly every bit as ridiculous as F1's currect tyre rules, so expect it to be employed at its earliest opportunity.



Agreed, motor-racing should be all about innovation that drives the industry and automated quick swap battery system is the innovation we all need now. Ability to change cars quickly does not help anyone or anything


I think that maybe they need to get these guys involved....

What better way to make this a worldwide solution than watch the technology in action during a race.

However I do see the romance in watching race drivers park a car, get out, run across to another car, strap in and then race off.

Do you think that they will be able to drive off if the seat belt is not fastened??


Far far too hazardous. Even with insulating clothing on the pit crew, these high energy batteries could easily arc with fatal consequences. Replacing the batteries is not something where speed should be encouraged.


Battery swapping is already being trialled (since 2010) in Tokyo taxis. See BetterPlace.

This series would be a great place to showcase and improve this technology and get people out of the refill/recharge mindset!


This is exactly the point. Electric cars cannot really go mainstream, until we have a way to quickly and safely replenish the charge. Motor racing to me is a better way to find those solutions in more or less controlled environment. Otherwise we might never see electric cars truly take off


Sounds interesting. Purists and Luddites may turn up their noses but I think it could complement normal racing nicely, rather than be viewed as a replacement. Plus it's use as a technological test bed should be praised.

The online shadow game aspect would be cool but must be very difficult to achieve. Creating a game environment to match the real race so players can compete on an equal footing as the real drivers would be tough.


If that would be a silent Formula how they would attract spectators ? According to the surveys and BE concerns over the engine sound of 2014 V 6 engines in F1 of 2014, that may adversely affect the entire series, what is the future of a silent Formula ? Is just another failure project as A1 was ?


I've heard Formula E cars will be roughly between the volume of a regular car, and a bus, when travelling at the same speed; so when going at 100mph (or whatever speed it is), they will be relatively loud.


Those of us living in cities with electric buses (powered by an overhead pair of wires) definitely aren't excited at that prospect.


Good questions, but I think thats the whole point of having it in City centers, where noise is 0.

I don't know if it will succeed, but I for one am excited to see EV at 200 mph!


To be a pessimist and to predict failure is a decent bet if you want to make yourself feel clever (most new racing series fail). Then again some new racing series like DTM succeed.

Ask another question. What is the future of a Formula where spectators don't have to travel because the races are held on street circuits in the downtown centers of Los Angeles, Rome, Rio, Miami and Beijing etc?


"Then again some new racing series like DTM succeed."

DTM isn't a new series, Its been around since the 80s. Even longer if you count its predecessor the DRM series.


I hope this really takes off, if you want to concur new technologies just give the problem to racers and they will figure it out.


That is precisely the point.

Motor sport has always done this; seatbelts, disc brakes, turbo development the list is endless


New technologies yes... but the limitation here is the batteries, and there are quite a few other things around that use the things, many of which have been every bit as motivating as motorsport is and always has been, in making things better and better...

I'm not very optimistic that it will happen, to a significant extent. Put it this way: if a team that is willing to spend as much money in F1 as RBR, took as long as it did to get over (or was it around?) the overheating problems in its KERS, then the technology still has quite a long way to go.

On the other hand, there are other very promising technologies around... perhaps not the somewhat over-hyped hydrogen fuel cell, although its rather serious disadvantages shouldn't actually limit racing all that much... I'm thinking mainly of an article James published several months ago, about a jet-powered hybrid prototype road car. Anything to develop THAT idea to the point that it is economically viable, I'd support with all the enthusiasm I can muster!


+1. By shining the spotlight here, and having money invested to improve battery technology, it should get miles better (and faster 😉 )


well james, i like your confidence...but as soon as there is a new ‘development/benefit’ the FIA will ban it, as usual

Sebastian Sonntag

I am also curious to learn more about Formula E. Just like Kenneth pointed out: Why can't there be swappable batteries? What kind of top speeds can we expect, and how will city circuits make it exciting? I presume they will have a qualifying system to determine the grid line up - can we except 10 Monaco type (read: boring) races with hardly any overtaking? What abour DRS? Will these car feature that? Also: The car being the same, does this mean there will be no differences in performance, and only minor adjustments each team can make?

I am all for Formula E, in fact it would be great to see more 'E' technology in F1, since developments there often spill over to the consumer market. It would be great to know a little more about it. Any chance JA on F1 can give us an inside view?




The very fact that we are debating this subject is good for EVs and for their development.

There is plenty of space for Formula E to exist alongside F1 for many years

Sebastian Sonntag

Thanks for the reply, James!

I agree some people are looking at it in a very 20th century way.

I look forward to more news coming out on the technology, the types of cars used and of course the rules!



Bring Back Murray

It'll still burn through the Pirellies after 2 laps

Bring Back Murray

if indeed it was not Michelin who was supplying the tyre!


Why have the limitation of the car being electric instead of zero emission... I believe it would encourage some very interesting out of the box thinking... Some might go electric but some might explore an entirely different concept.


I agree, I think it would be a bit more interesting to see different teams go for different sources of power, then we could see electric and hydrogen or even the jet mentioned above, it would really provide a great base for research into zero emissions.

However, although ths is meant to be completely electric, will we ever see the huge hospitality centre like there are in F1? I can't imagine they are every environmentally friendly.


I love the idea of alternatively powered cars. The Audi E-tron at full speed but silent is the most amazing car I've ever seen.

But this series is surely not going to happen. Brit F3 can't get a full grid because of costs and huge competition from multiple single seater series, but teams for this are going to have to buy two cars per driver?

Will be stunned if this ever happens, its a flawed concept at the moment. 2 x 20 minute support races to F1, WEC, DTM - maybe.

Tornillo Amarillo

Some thoughts:

1. "zero emission", "positive effect on the quality of air "... I don't think so since electricity is not made mainly by solar panels.

2. Reverse calendar: great idea.

3. Michelin: Thanks God is not Pirelli.

4. Change cars: Interesting, it is like the beginning of F1 when drivers got out the car for refueling, etc.

Tornillo Amarillo

James, are they doing any artificial noises?

Tornillo Amarillo

This is how an electric Audi R8 could artificially sound:


I think a milk float would be suitable..and don't forget the jangling of the bottles!


I'm told there will be a decent noise, but not super loud obviously. Also you'll get to hear tyres squeal, obviously, which is kind of unique


Cool, so it's gonna be like the Monty Python sketch with the coconuts for making the clippity clip horsey noises... maybe these plastic eCars won't be so boring after all! 😀

Schnell! schnell!

Could they have the clippity clip of horses hooves playing as they go around?


Yes but the waste gases from producing the electricity/energy aren't in the city with all the people is it. There isn't an improvement to the greenness of the planet as such but the health quality of people living in urban areas would be improved with electric vehicles.


1. Positive effect on the air quality in cities - by shifting the pollution away from streets around people, to countryside away from people.

Large scale generation + electricity transmission, storage and use in an electric vehicle is also much more efficient than an internal combustion engine, and in western countries results in less non-CO2 pollutants. Possibly not true for all countries where racing happens.

As electric grids become decarbonised - happening in Europe for sure - the equation just looks better.


You could make it a requirement that teams have to bring enough solar panels or wind turbines to generate all the energy they'll use on track during the weekend.

Formula E will never be "sustainable" as an event - in Formula 1, the petrol burned by the race cars on track accounts for less than 1% of the carbon footprint of the series, if you include flights of equipment, crews and spectators(!).

FE will be a way of demonstrating and testing sustainable technology, just as F1 is about demonstrating and testing conventional car technology. Not guaranteed to work, but why not give it a chance.


Well I guess it's a starting point and its great that its so environmentally friendly when racing but Im very curious about the emissions discharged by factories making these cars and components as. I've read some articles suggesting that a full electric car needs 5years if running to save the same level of carbon dioxide that is emitted in the manufacturing processes.

It will struggle for sure to attract people in the first two years but perhaps once the battery lets improves and you get at least 40 minutes if straight racing then people may start watching.


That's compared to an equivalent to equivalent petrol powered car


I'm guessing that the batteries will be laid out along the floor of the car to get good weight distribution. Probably difficult to just swap out.


Will the Formula E series be shown live on TV


Yes. I understand it will be on TV and live streamed


Is Bernie involved?

Stephen Taylor

Where on TV?


Hopefully not Sky. I reckon ITV or 4, or similar, will get this one,


@kenneth Well, batteries that are fully integrated generally have much more capacity! Just look to laptops with that! With integrated batteries you can use every square inch on the inside for the battery. But with plugging you have to make a connector and design it in a way that makes it possible to remove the batterypack!


Formula E will be great exposure for tyre manufacturers as the noise of tortured tyres -- drowned out by the engine noise in F1 -- will be a really exciting feature of these cars.

Swapping cars will be novel and will mean that it's much more likely to be the skills of the driver that are exposed. I'm assuming they will have a standardised -- and hopefully unhurried -- time for the changeover, James? Any competing to change the driver over in the fastest time would undoubtedly be dangerous.


The tyre noise is what you get back, and watching, well, listening to videos of electric race cars on youtube, I prefer it. The engine noise doesn't tell you much, but the tyre noise really gives you the feel of the car and driver working.

IMHO, they should go to a lot of effort to make sure the tyre noise is audible as much as relevantly possible.


Good point Kenneth - it could be the impetus needed to develop better quick-change battery packs and the corresponding techniques.

This could be applied to the wider world, car manufacturers settle on a few standardised packs - which "refuelling" stations then swap in/out. This then circumvents the Achilles heel of most e-cars... namely, ensuring on-demand, instant "recharge".

Jonathan Lodge

James - running one of, if not the, leading website for F1 fans you are giving us the best info on this new series - is this something you intend to develop into being the best info provider for the new series once it is up and running?

I guess going through the winter will make that a bit easier for you! Do you know anything about TV coverage yet?


We will do our best


Thanks James! Really appreciate all the information!


Kenneth, I doubt that would be possible. If they follow Tesla (the leading car manufacturer with the largest range) would imagine that the batteries form the bottom part of the car - and therefore an integral part of the car itself.

An electric car is a hell of a lot more simple (in a fantastic way) than a standard petrol powered car. There are the batteries and most probably an induction motor.


The Tesla Model S battery pack is in fact swappable. It was designed into the car in case that became something people wanted. The idea of swapping though became less popular and Tesla focussed on Super Charging (30 min half charge, 1 hour full charge at a rate of 90KW).

I don't know but I would imagine that the no swapping thing in Formula E must be something to do either with safety, or with the fact that the floor of the car is so aerodynamically complex. I doubt it would be unsafe to swap the battery. You just have an insulated battery box and a contactor disconnecting the pack before the swap. I'm guessing that maybe it's harder to design the battery to be safe when the car crashes. I'm not sure why. This is just a guess. Maybe it's that to design it for swapping you need to bolt it in place in only a small number of places and that makes it less secure in a crash???

I hope the series does well. I'm not convinced it will, but I hope it does.


Hey Nick, hadn't realised that the battery is completely swappable in the Model S (any links you can share?)

Having said that, I can't see how you could swap the Model S battery in a race situation. It forms the base of the car, so it covers the entire space between the wheels - not a battery box at the back. Like you said, the aerodynamic aspects of the floor must be pretty complex as well.

Rommel Zegarra

I absolutely don't support this awful kind of competitions, the Formula 1 should be respected for all time, I also disagree that engine change from V8 to V6. God this is a racing competition!!, I don't understand people who like to see Mobile Phone with wheels races.

Leave Formula 1 as it is today!. Ecologists should think on stop huge pollution from huge corporations instead of destroying this beautiful sport.


If you're here to see fast cars, thats what you're getting...

Nothing here really about stopping pollution. In fact, F1 burns much more fuel transporting equipment/people than through cars. I assume its the same for Formula-E as well.

f1 has give us seatbelts, disk brakes, turbo engines. Now its time for another series to see if they can deliver on the electric front. Besides why are you so worried? if you think Formula E won't take off, then Formula 1 has nothing to be afraid of.


Luddite? (above)

Actually, my support (reluctant) for Formula E. Tech applicable to the real road world!! Limit aero, and I'll be more supportive, but make them golf carts and looking like an EV should, and I might even buy a ticket.


This is fantastic.

Thanks for covering the development on this series, James.

I am looking forward to your techinical insights on this series and comparisons to Formula 1.




Car swap. Shades of 24 Hrs of Le Mans, but in reverse, as it were: not a matter of two (or more) drivers sharing one car, but two cars "sharing" one driver.

Could be interesting. From what James writes, it wouldn't be a paused, leisurely, swap, though, would it? but rather a means of having a single, un-interrupted race. (Yes?)

So ... "into the pits" + "out in new car" = "do it quickly" seems like part of the formula, too. For the first couple years, anyway.


Could formula E benefit from the F1 ERS technology to recharge their batteries while racing?

Loving the idea to make tires that last the race distance! We'll have some proper racing in FE.


It seems like a joke to me.

20 minute races? really?Wait for the batteries to charge??

Why not just use R/C cars instead?The drivers would "drive" the electric R/C cars around the track.


Ok, scrap F1 and use 1/5 scale petrol RC cars instead. They make noise, the tyres last and are pretty cheap. I'd watch that. I'd watch F1, and FE too.


Am I the only who thinks this will be awful. Changing cars mid race? All in identical cars? Will the races have any nosie or will it be silence?


There will be noise, yes.

The idea is, as the series develops, more manufacturers will enter their own cars. Also, as the series develops, better battery technology will be found, and they will be able to go longer on the batteries until, in a few years, no car changes will be required.

Also, with the funding there to do research, there will be more technology for road cars, as it explains in the article.

In may not be so great now, but hopefully in 5/10 years, it will be.


Will the proposed London race actually happen? It would require an Act of Parliament to suspend the speed limits and that won't happen overnight....



There was talk last year of legislation to grant this power to local authorities, but it doesn't seem to have come to anything yet.


I realise this sounds very egoistical, but I'm not intrested in watching races where the actual sounds make no sound (I assume), can you imagine watching F1 without engine sounds? I certainly can't.


Good to see you (and many others) so negative about Formula E and not just F1. 😉

Hey everyone, you'll never believe this but just like F1 Richard doesn't think that this is "real racing".


Well that car looks better than I feared from Dalara. With the IndyCar design being hideously ugly, I fear the same here. But at least it appears it might not have the huge barge boards.

As far as the real world application, hopefully they will help with charging techonlogy as well as the battery tech. As of now the marketability of electric cars is pretty much a nice market. GM's product uses petro, and the rest just don't have much in the way of real range.

Most importantly though is the expensive TCO of the cars right now vs petro and diesel. Also the cars themselves are not that much more "Green" when you look at the whole picture of what is needed to produce and run one. In the US where we are discovering more and more oil and natural gas reserves by the day all the while prior global warming research is debunked or proven biased this a tough sell. You also have the "inconvenient truth" for 16 years the planet temp has stayed constant in spite of all those hockey stick graphs.

With that said, racing is EXACTLY the place we should be exploring these kinds of technologies. The private sector is so much more efficient than force government invention. It is also hard to conceive of a future that does not become more and more dependent on some type of energy that will replace carbon's such as oil and coal. As of now carbon energy is the best bang for the buck.

We need racing to not only bring it's inventiveness to the problem of designing functioning electric vehicles, we need it to make those vehicles cool and exciting to the general public.

No whales or Nissan Leafs were harmed in the writing of this post.



Excellent points all. This IS a good idea, and very PC. Will be an easier sell to get metro areas to lower their knickers for street racing.

Still think they should run combined classes with GT-GC(GoCarts)


'No whales or Nissan Leafs were harmed in the writing of this post.' Nice point. However, in the previous sentence an apostrophe was bludgeoned into a place it didn't want to go.


The other guy writes six paragraphs and you're picking on his grammar? OK so he won the argument, then...


I am from Texas, we don't do grammar and punctuation is over rated. Plus we have oil in our front yards and cattle in the back yard. (couldn't be farther from the truth but why fight they sterotype)


As a New Zealander, I know all about stereotypes - bah. Or rather, bahhhhhh. At least you have a grand prix in Texas (and don't have to stay up till midnight to watch most of them on TV!). Thanks to the mods for allowing us this off-topic little exchange.

Agree the car looks better than feared but I still think it needs to look more different than the norm - a little more Hot Wheels, perhaps. As a traditionalist, I can't believe I'm saying that!


Who will be the drivers in the first year?

@James Allen, perhaps you could do a profile on some of them? I am guessing it will be racing drivers from lower formulas with conventional cars, not drivers that currently take part in electric vehicle "endurance racing".

One measure of FE's eventual success will be its ability to attract top drivers - from Formula 3, and maybe one day from GP2 or even F1.


I'm hoping it will be the likes of Kovalainen, Kobayashi, Alguersuari, Senna - drivers people have heard of and for whom they have some sympathies.

That seems to be Agag's vision of it, but we will see whether the drivers want to play ball.


Will it be possible for drivers to take part in both F1 and Formula E?

In particular, will the Formula E races be scheduled such that they never clash with a F1 race?


if it was on the same weekend then it woud be useful to new drivers to learn new tracks... presuming the teams had a deal


How much of a 'feeder' series do you think this will be for F1 James? (Or anyone else).


I don't think it's a feeder. Think Kobayashi and Alguersuari post F1 adventure or for drivers who don't quite make F1, eg Pantano


Will there be partnerships between F1 and FE teams then? F1 teams the ability to attract sponsors, long finance histories, and drivers they want to test and are high calibre.


The prototype looks intriguing - certainly it appears like there is more liberty in the aerodynamics than under current F1 regulations. I expect FE cars to still go slower than F1 cars at first, but with the advances in battery technology (powerful electric motors are no problem), I wouldn't rule out that they catch up, especially if they allow innovations such as traction control, adjustable aerodynamics (think DRS, just a lot more flexible) and maybe even ground effect devices.

Within 10 years, we could see an electric car go as fast as an F1 car, if you allowed for all the aerodynamic and electronic advances illegal under current F1 regulations.


How can having a new series hurt? Its just more series for motor racing fans to watch. In the winter too. Why would any one want to deny those who are interested the opportunity to develop such cars, race such cars and enjoy watching such cars?

Are the nay sayers worried this will put F1 out of business? If not, why all the derision?

I'm beginning to find it quite amusing how many people simply have to find fault with it in such bizarre and desperate ways. Its just some folks doing their thing. Its not a threat...... is it?


+1. Also, think of all the future drivers which want an opportunity to shine, but never get one. It will give 20 more a chance each year!

This will not rival F1 in the near, so there is no reason for it to put F1 out of business.


how about that? so many comments re ‘batteries/changing’. whilst it is all very interesting i was hoping that someone could give us the definitive data as to why ‘pitstop’ style ‘plug and play' battery changes could not be made.

i am fully aware of the CoG needs but as these cars have no radiators i was thinking more along the lines that the BP’s [battery packs] could be sited low down where the side pods are.

with the level of engineering genius that exists within the industry i cannot for one moment see why plug in terminals could not expedited. surely the people behind the mars rover, or likeminded souls, could be tasked with this!!!!!

running 20minute stints is, IMO, rather pathetic when seeking to attract new audiences or converting old ones.

still, i suppose, it all has to start somewhere.


When I visited my first GP live after years of following it on tv for me the most memorable moment was parking way out in a field and walking through the trees to the Spa track.

We could not see yet and had about 1 km to go. It was a little misty and free practice was starting in the distance. The sound was incredible, so violent so loud , it was surreal with the misty setting on a gloomy moring in spa.

It sound silly maybe even sad for some, but I almost teared up (I did actually) and I remember this like yesterday.

I understand times changes and I'm have suddenly become a dinosaur who is old fashioned and doesn't understand there is a new generation that doesn't care about speed noise and adrenaline.. in the future commerce will destroy the old combustion engine and main stream will marvel at these silent little cars zooming around... a time where we will pretend to marvel at how greate battery capacity has increased instead of beeing in awe of engineers been able to create engines that rev at 22.000+ (and can last a coulple of GP's)..


Two cars opens up some interesting considerations.

What will qualy be like and do you have the choice of which car to start.

Presumably they will be able to use different setups on each?

What will the numbering system be like? Will it be 1a & 1b, 2a & 2b, and so on?

Will they race in the rain?

Will the pits be extra-wide so the cars can be side by side for the swap?

Will 20 minutes about 10-15 laps and will the rear tires last that long?

How long will it be until someone gets run over in the pitlane? We could have a contest!

All revved-up

I think there should also be a rule that the batteries should be entirely recharged from solar, wind or wave power. This would be a much more powerful message. The series should not be associated with electricity from coal fired power stations.

A nice legacy of the series could be the free solar charging stations it builds, so that the electricity goes back into the city grids when the series is not racing in town.

This Formula E initiative would then contribute to the development of sustainable energy.


Interesting thought.

So after the source of the electricity is sorted, all that will be left (in terms of emissions) will be the huge, diesel-powered trucks driving the cars and the rest of the team to and from the races, plus the 4-engined cargo planes carrying them in capital cities around the world!

Oh and let's not forget the manufacture of the cars... all this carbon-fibre needs a fair amount of energy to be made. And then there's the batteries...

In F1, the fuel the cars burn is a tiny part of the carbon footprint of the sport. I don't see why Formula E will be any different.

All revved-up

Will Kimi's smooth driving style mean that his E-car will last 25 minutes? Will Red Bull complain that the performance of the battery is limiting the performance of their car? Will an E-Mercedes run out of juice after 18 minutes! "drive slower Lewis to conserve the battery"? "I can't drive any slower - have been overtaken by an E-Williams".


Go Formula-E !!!

Shame E means Electric and not Environmental. Opening it up to alternatives would produce some interesting concepts. Remember the turbine-engined Formula-1 car, and the 6-wheelers, the 4-wheel-drive, and other too-soon banned or dropped ideas which took technology forward.

Formula-1 has painted itself into a WWF-style corner and can't get anything new going now. Formula-E will take over as the worlds leading technical innovative motorsport quite soon. Watch for engineers and drivers moving over -- that'll be the first sign.

The first season will be full of hiccups, but great fun if approached with an open mind. It can't be any worse than the charade of racing which F1 presents these days.

On the media front - I hope BE is barred from Formula-E and we will actually be able to watch it live on the internet without geo-IP-filtering and other such restrictions.


why do you think that it is called Formula E ?


OK so long as it isn't Formula-B 😉


If the first few seasons require car changes, why not make it a teams event (a pair for drivers)? Granted this model is favoured more in endurance race events, but at least it would then avoid the clunkiness of a driver changing cars. You could have 1 driver do two stints and the other do 1.

Tag team racing. Bit like a relay race in swimming or athletics. When you're running low on batteries, driver A comes in, Driver B drives out.


Sensible idea. Mix it up a bit too, one driver is over 40 and the other is a young hotshot. Imagine Nigel and Leo Mansell? Or Johnny Herbert and a little Herbert. Or perhaps make it a pro-driver and a celeb-driver? For instance a pro-driver is joined by the top football star from the host cities premier league etc? It would make for more interesting coverage from a PR perspective too.


If they actually allow freedom for car development, this could easily pass F1 in terms of speed.


Then in come the FIA and slow it down by littering regulations everywhere.


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 🙁


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.


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...


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!!!!


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


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.


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

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.


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


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


+1. Lack of F1 is painful 😉


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..



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


Is that what they are intending it to be?


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.


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...


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.


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!


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.


'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!


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.

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...

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.


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?


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...


"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.


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


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


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.


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?

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'.

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