Williams to provide battery system to FIA Formula E championship
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Jun 2013   |  8:41 am GMT  |  54 comments

Williams are to provide the battery system that will be used in the FIA Formula E championship which is set to debut in Autumn 2014.

Williams Advanced Engineering, a division of the Williams group which commercialises Formula 1-based technologies, will partner Spark Racing Technology to design and assemble the units.

The single seater fully-electric 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. Bangkok is under consideration for one of the remaining slots.

Williams’ work with battery storage systems began with its F1 programme following the introduction or Kers (Kers Energy Recovery Systems) in 2009. Since then, the outfit develops both battery and flywheel energy storage systems for both motorsport and non-motorsport industries.

The company developed a flywheel hybrid system for Audi’s Le Mans winning R18 e-tron Quattro, a flywheel system for London buses with Go-Ahead Group and a battery hybrid system for the Jaguar C-X75 supercar.

Williams founder and team principal Sir Frank Williams said: “This is an exciting new racing series that will play a key role in highlighting the growing relevance of technologies originally developed for motorsport to the wider world.

“Energy efficiency is an important issue for Williams and whilst our work in this field is now spanning a number of market sectors beyond racing, motorsport will always be the ultimate proving ground for our technologies.

“Electric vehicles are becoming an increasingly important part of the automotive industry and Formula E is the perfect opportunity for Williams to validate the latest developments in battery technology.”

President of Spark Racing Technology Frederic Vasseur added: “The vast experience from Williams and especially from Williams Advanced Engineering in the field of hybrid systems and electric engine power, guarantees quality.

“Spark Racing Technology is extremely proud to bring together some of the biggest names in motorsport and expects no less from Williams as they accompany us in the highest level of the first world championship for electric cars.”

Late last year, McLaren announced they will supply the engine, transmission and electronics to the series. And last month, Renault joined as a technical partner while TAG Heuer also joined as a global partner.

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James, Is it true that the drivers will have to change cars halfway thru the race because of the range of the batteries?


Yes, twice to start with

The idea is that as the years progress and batteries improve, they won’t need to change cars and that will demonstrate the development etc..

Scuderia McLaren

That’s perhaps the only part of this whole Formula E proposition I don’t like. Planning in advance and showing a contrived (choreographed) development rate with battery technology. I think the 100m sprint will put gimmick into what could be a really good, hard fought, potentially prestigious and unique championship.

Just hang on to key elements:

1; Streets only races on prestigious capitals of the world.

2; Electric tech used and explained race by race with features and knowledgable commentary.

3; Solid and cheap cars for guys like Kamui Kobayashi to shine. And please don’t over steward driver standards.

4; Must remain an offseason series.

Stay away from gimmicks. Present real racing. The street circuits will do the rest.


I agree, the 100m sprint is a gimmick, as are the car changes. However, I think these gimmicks will disappear as the sport is gaining interest from manufacturers, who want to increasingly use it to really showcase their technology. Right now, most car companies still see all electric cars as a gimmick, but I am sure that will change – Tesla Motor’s recent turn of fortune will certainly have made some of them reconsider their strategy.


Looks like a big colourful mixture of companies!

I did a small feature on Formula E, it’s not copy/paste stuff, hopefully people can get a basic idea of what to expect from a Formula E event: http://iberianmph.com/2013/06/11/formulae-for-formula-e/

It should be pretty interesting in real life; once the project takes the final shape, it’ll start building a fan base. Sounds like fun from a driver’s perspective as well. I would gladly give up my own “normal” car for an electric vehicle if it weren’t so expensive to buy one, electric cars are cool.

Inevitably, racing will have to search for new ways, it’s romantic to look back at the 60s or 70s, but for younger kids it just won’t do. A good plan from Formula E to use cities and not race tracks, I personally prefer street races to even the most legendary tracks: easy to travel to an event, public transport is a bonus, nice and easy. Appealing. Super Agag.


Who cares about this, really? Williams should concentrate on making a decent F1 car, not parts for this ugly, silent joke of a car that’s only a PR move from the FIA.

Scuderia McLaren

Williams will be making some money here selling their knowledge, experience and parts. This will help the company bottom line. The better the company bottom line, the more they can put into building a better F1 car and hiring better people. If anything, they are smart in tapping into other motorsport related revenue streams.

Scuderia McLaren

I have seen Motorsport series come and go. Some were great ideas and implemented / managed poorly. Some poor ideas despite really good people and partners associated with it. This Formula E really excites me. It seems like a great combination of ideas and sporting propositions that could make it a nice supplementary off-season series to follow.

The sporting challenge of being street track focused is really appealing. The all electric technical challenge is interesting. And the fact that its open wheel racing is always something I enjoy. Like Indy Car Series with ovals, it’s not about competing with other formula on a car or technical level as to whats better, but making the sporting challenge unique and watching Indy simply because oval racing with an open wheeler is crazy and cool. Ditto with this. Open wheel street specialist electric racing sounds really cool too. Hopefully they make the cars robust and cheap enough that we see some argy bargy, as Murray would say.

Imagine it, Kobayashi, Senna, Di Grassi, Petrov and up and coming stars and maybe some old hands like Schumacher?? all squealing their tyres and and pushing to the limit with parity on the streets of the worlds capitals while Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton etc all recharge their batteries on Ibiza, Majorca and LA. Sounds super to me. We don’t have to desperately care about b**s in the offseason as much and the who did what in testing.


Interesting points Scud, but I still have a copy of the only race that was ever run for Grand Prix Masters, back in 2005, with the same car but ex-F1 drivers.

It was won by Mansell, and to this day only ever ran once.


I heard a rumour that Unigate were putting together a team for this. I came across this leaked image of an early prototype: http://www.imcdb.org/i038680.jpg


Lol, nicely done 🙂



Always work with a drummer….


This is a great initiative, and very good to hold the series in the F1 off season – not having to compete with F1 for our attention and presenting the series to a ‘captive’ or local audience as well. I look fwd to this kicking off and seeing the future of all our road car on track and developing a very real benifit for road cars, even if that is only presenting it and teaching the world we can live with out quite so much oil.


Not sure where this headed. Ugly-spec cars that make horrible noises running around cobbled together downtown street circuits? Not sure what the point is besides the novelty factor. Good luck to them….They’ll need it.


So Mclaren provides engine, transmission and electronics. Williams the batteries. Renault is a tech partner and Tag Heuer too?

Am I the only one to see a problem with this championship?

Namely no competition from any manufacturer. There will be no innovation with suspensions, engine efficiency, aerodynamics, braking systems, KERS systems, electronics.. I could go on.

What drives any industry, especially motorsport, is new developing technology. It’s almost cliched now, that if you stand still with development, you will fall behind.

Can you imagine how quickly F1 would reduce the size of the batteries, or the efficiency of the electric systems?

Personally I don’t see this being a success.


These deals are to get it started

The idea is manufacturers come in and drive development on

That’s the plan, we will see whether it happens


James, off topic, but I’m not getting emails for many of my posts with posts added to it.

Is there a problem in the system as my email address is still the same one.



Just realised why, my mistake!


Then they should open up f1 regs and invite more manufactures into formula 1 which is consistently labelled the pinnacle of innovation and already an established brand within itself.


Formula racing means that the regulations are fixed. I am excited about Formula E, and I would be willing to bet that by 2025, a Formula E car will beat a current F1 car in single lap pace on any current F1 track. Just looking at the picture of proposed Formula E cars today tells me that once the engines have matured and battery weight has come down, they will be really quick. The car looks like a car that’s designed to be fast, not to some arbitrary rules. Right now, Formula E is not set up to compete with F1 (with a rather arbitrary rule that drivers must run a set distance to change cards etc.), but that may change with pressure from manufacturers – it’s also possible that manufacturers will actually prefer Formula E, which also carries less baggage in terms of corruption and privileges for the “traditional” teams.


When I think of electric race cars, I imagine scaled-up Scalextric racers, minus the slot.


It seems some of ex-F1 drivers currently in the WEC are supposed to participate in Formula E, so I hope both championships work together to make it possible. Attracting good names would also be a great asset to the successs of this new formula. Maybe I’m dreaming but it would be outstanding to see names like Senna, Prost, Piquet and Schumacher racing in the same series!

George Debenham

Knocked together street circuits, spec. series cars

doesn’t realy excite me.

Novelty value will be initially high and the backdrops interesting but exciting racing???

Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised.


Who will provide the tyres? Lol!


Michelin I believe


I wonder how far a car could go on 2000 AA Batteries?

2000 AA batteries is only a 30KG battery pack, right? 🙂


A good lithium-ion AA battery holds about 3 Wh (Watt-hours) of energy. Assuming the car consumes 500 kW, one AA battery will last about 0.0216 seconds. With 2000 batteries holding 6 kWh, you could therefore run for about 43.2 seconds and they’ll way around 50 kgs.

Real Formula E cars will require significantly less energy on average, but it’s safe to say that you won’t do much more than two-three laps on 2000 AA batteries. Of course, you also could not discharge standard lithium ion-batteries that quickly.

To put this in perspective, the base model Tesla S has a capacity of about 60 kWh, or 20,000 of these AA batteries, while its engine delivers a maximum of 225 kW. On full throttle, that battery would only last for 960 seconds (16 minutes), but that’s a very unrealistic scenario – the actual range is about 300 km, or three hours driving at 100 km/h with an average consumption of 20 kW.


Thanks for that. You know! And now we do too.



Do you think Michael Schumacher would be interested in taking up something like this? it would have huge appeal if he did!


Does anyone know what kind of speeds / laptimes are being aimed for with these cars, e.g. comparable to a F3 or GP2, etc?

Concept is good if they can get across the technology and the spectacle.


I remain to be convinced that this will be a worthy championship, silent cars are a real question and as IndyCar and A1GP has proved over the years a lot of street tracks are rubbish. However, it’s certainly pulling in some seriously big names to work on this.

One correction, the Audi R18 uses it’s own system system with a Williams flywheel.

About the venues mentioned James, how many of them are guaranteed, as I understand it London would need an act of parliament to hold a race on it’s streets, as would any other UK city except Birmingham.


Has any body heard any news on the jaguar super car? I’d heard the project had been axed…


I saw Usain Bolt driving one of the cars round an athletics track in Oslo last night and I have to say they are really beautiful looking racing cars.


It was a 2006 F1 car with its internal combustion engine replaced by an electric motor, not a Formula E car. As you can see in the illustration above this article, Formula E cars will look quite different, taking advantage of aerodynamic design features not currently allowed in F1.


Who will be driving in Formula E? Do we have some names that might be interested?


seems a little late ( 12 months really) to start of new season ?

last i heard one 1 team had signed up ? but i guess they are going to want the cars at some point next year for some testing ?

i really do want to see this forumla to take off .. but it still seems a little smoke and mirrors at the moment.



Fire extinguishers in teams’ garages, please!


It seems a little ironic to me that the team who made the best mechanical power storage flywheel system should be the one to provide the electrical storage medium. Still it is supposedly a separate company.

The involvement of both McLaren and Mercedes must make for some intricately shaped bamboo walls within WAE.

Also interesting to know (eventually) which side was driving the other, since the higher capacity ERS in F1 will run concurrently, though in theory the two sides must be kept separate and again bamboo walls must stop information flow between the two sides.

Having worked with several engineering development companies I know that despite 15 foot high walls separating various projects it is very difficult when all the engineers know each other. As a supplier I had to sign umpteen confidentiality agreements (although our own was probably more rigorous) But odd things like shared canteens and coffee machines, water coolers used to be overlooked. The real answer is separate sites for each project.

I am very keen to hear how loud the supposedly silent FE cars are, because in my early career I designed machines that used 200HP plus electric motors (driving water pumps) and one needed ear defenders to go anywhere near them. OK things have moved on and I would assume there is no brush noise now, but there are still rotors and air movement, plus of course the transmission noise.


Hi James,

can you show us some video or a clip of one of these things running around a track? I’m baffled as to what it must be like. Are they going to be silent? What’s the top speed? Will there be pit stops for tyres etc? And which teams are running the cars? Anyone well known jumping in to drive?


There’s some video footage on YouTube of Drayson testing an electric racer prototype at Rockingham. The thing sounds like a jet plane. It’s a very different noise to F1, certainly, but that’s not automatically a bad thing. We don’t moan about the noise of the Tour de France or the Americas Cup – like them, this is a totally different sport. Spectators will actually be able to hold conversations at the track and access to drivers might actually be far more likely than in F1. Bring it on! (I’ve been following developments and aggregating news and features of my own at the Current E wordpress site.)


They’ll be a long way from silent as they produce a hell of a lot of tyre noise which isn’t drowned by the sound of an internal combustion engine. I think we’re going to be pleasantly surprised at how interesting it is to hear the sound of tortured tyres scrabbling for grip on a bumpy street circuit.

Try this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3v-mb7Uhdk


That is the sound of the future. It’s not internal combustion, but it certainly causes a lot of internal reaction. My first was that it seemed unrelenting as the speed increased; almost oppressive. It sounded like it just couldn’t, or wouldn’t, be stopped. There was even a hint of Stuka dive siren during some moments.

Being able to hear the tires and the suspension bumps seems give a sense of what a driver must feel; how harsh racing setups are and how the tires are really used. It is really very informative. Formation laps will be much more interesting. As drivers “switch on” their tires we will be able to hear exactly what they are doing. Very interesting.


Agreed. The video was, for some reason, one of the scarier Nurburgring POVs I’ve seen. The wind and tire noise seemed to highlight how unnatural the whole thing is. Very cool.

Tornillo Amarillo

Great, I’m not sure if the electric car sounds more like:

– a plane landing

– a roller-coaster

I hope for artificial sounds like intended by Audi with its engineers :



Thanks for sharing the video. What a shock. If that is the sound we are going to be hearing I don’t think I could watch. Maybe they can do some R&D into making it sound not hideous.

I have been really excited about the future and electric power. I ride sports bikes so love new tech. How can you not like stuff that makes you go faster.

I just didn’t realise how important the sound is to me.


There is another vid in that set with a right hand drive version car setting a record 25 secs quicker.(7:22) You can hear the powertrain in this one too quite loud, but strangely hardly any tyre noise.


That video was just horrible. It was like the sound of a totured mouse.

Give me bottled beast anyday, the sound of caged fury threatening to blow itself apart. The high pitched assertive snarl of an F1 engine alone can stir the right hormones.


+1 Mark V!!


To each his own. Personally the sound of an 1800’s steam engine is what really gets my pulse going. Choo choo! 😛


Saw this a while ago. Im glad some one else appreciates hearing the tires work. I find it far more informative of what the driver and car are doing than the roar of an engine.


To hear … what?

swish … swish … swish …

Us blokes down here is New Zealand are used to hearing the V8’s rumble and smell the fuel, so hard to imagine electric cars racing.

My wife already says that watching cars go around and around is like watching paint dry … what’s she going to think of this???


No matter how much you like the engine sound, racing isn’t the background music. Racing is the speed and competition.

Personally i hope relics like you(and Bernie) won’t hold back the progress F1 has to make so not to look like some out of date thing.

I especially like how everyone was so afraid the new F1 engines could be slightly quieter and therefore ruin their fun but at the same time they wear ear-shields when they get there.

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