“This car represents the future of racing.”
As statements about new racing cars go, this one from Alejandro Agag is pretty confident.
Launching the car that Formula E teams will race in the all important Season V starting later this year, Agag claims that his electric racing series will lead a ‘revolution’ in motorsport. And it starts with this car and with its capacity to do the whole of a Formula E race with one charge.
The next step in a few years will be a step up in performance and then pit stops with rapid charging. At that point the racing at street venues like Paris and Hong Kong may have to be reviewed as the cars will probably be too fast for the nature of the track layout.
But all that is in the future…
“When we started Formula E, our goal was to break the mould and challenge the status quo – bringing a revolution to motorsport,” said Agag.
“This next generation car represents that revolution. The cars will be faster and will have almost double the amount of energy storage capacity and double the range, demonstrating the continuous evolution of battery technology. Together with the FIA, we’ve achieved a great milestone with the introduction of this car and I can’t wait to see it on track.”
What does this all mean for F1?
The stakes are high here.
Formula 1 has had it all its own way in motorsport for many years, partly thanks to the way that it was managed under Bernie Ecclestone, especially when his ally Max Mosley was FIA president.
There have not really been any threats to that and at the moment F1 still has a pre-eminent position. The FIA is not going to undermine a series that it owns and from which its long term license to Liberty Media brings in the bulk of the FIA’s annual income.
But Formula E it has a property with a lot of potential and in the long term could reduce the FIA’s reliance on F1 income.
The boldness from its chosen promoter for Formula E, Agag, is backed up by support for the series from FIA president Jean Todt, who has sanctioned a title sponsor being added to an FIA single seater championship for the first time and whose office has approved this futuristic design for the Season V car.
Both sides are going for it.
The new F1 management trio of Carey, Bratches and Brawn has inherited a resilient business with lots of unexploited revenue potential, especially on the digital media side.
But the critical move this team will make is to define what the cars will look like and how they will perform after 2020, when they have the chance to reshape the rules.
This is not straight forward as there are other stakeholders, not least the leading F1 teams, who have already shown that they have a divergent view.
Ferrari is particularly entrenched and will be hard to shift, especially if F1 also wants to level the playing field for smaller teams on the share of commercial money.
The Formula E car revealed on Tuesday is one vision of what a 21st century single seater will look like and whatever Formula 1 comes up with now will be compared to it.
I think it looks great and is surely a step in the right direction in terms of single seater car design.
Formula E is still on the nursery slopes when it comes to audience and global reach compared to F1, but not when it comes to relevance and also attractiveness to sponsors.
The tone of the rhetoric coming from Agag and Formula E reflects the confidence boost that the series has received from the arrival of Mercedes and Porsche for Season V as well as the massive financial boost from ABB sponsorship of the series.
Once Mercedes and Porsche start going to town on the marketing around their FE involvement and the cars get faster, it will be interesting to see whether the audience starts to grow.
F1 & Agag photos: LAT Images
What do you think? Does Formula E have the right product? Will you be watching the series in Season V when Mercedes and Porsche arrive? Leave your comments below