Analysis: The car that will change motorsport.. even F1 forever?
Innovation
Posted By: James Allen  |  31 Jan 2018   |  11:36 am GMT  |  156 comments

“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


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1

The growth of F1 was always organic. From the start motor racing enthusiasts ‘discovered’ it via racing at their local track way before TV got a whiff if it. Fast forward 50 or more years and we have commercial enterprises literally forcing F1 and almost every other motor racing series down our throats and now, we are faced with an FE vs F1 battle. The thing is James, this is not of our choosing. Most of us probably appreciate and can accommodate both but these kind of articles ramp up the ante like it’s the one series vs the other and the loser dies. I call BS on that and I believe both series can coexist quite successfully and organically. I don’t think we should be drawn into this artificial battlefield just to satisfy a) sport ‘journalism’ or b) commercial interests. I know I will be shot down here (if anyone bothers to read most comments, which I actually do), but if you could call me anything, it would be your typical ageing F1 enthusiast that has been there since the beginning whatever value that has. (Probably not a lot).

2

Looks very sexy…wait, no more place for sexy in F1…it looks nice. Like tea, which is nice, too…

still goes “wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee……”, therefore, still not interested…oversized R/C car with the controller siting in it…

3

At some point soon, these will be faster than an F1 car. There isn’t much that can keep up with a well driven Tesla in the right circumstances now. The times, they are a changing.

4

The fenders (wings?) remind me of the failed single-seater Formula 5000 cars here in the states. Not the same shape, but the same idea.

5

They just don’t get it do they?

Motorsport racing made your hair stand up, it made your partner squirm, it put a smile on your face like no other….. when electric sewing machines do the same thing for you – you let me know.

Until then get lost with all this hyped up garbage.

6

In australia it’s probably now significantly more accessible than F1 which is effectively dead beyond Melbourne.

I’m willing to give it a go. Good racing is good racing, i dont care who’s running the show.

7

I won’t be watching. The previous seasons have been like watching paint dry – quietly.

At least the cars are supposedly able to complete a full race distance now !

At the moment, Formula E seems to be no more than the triumph of political correctness and marketing hype over everything that Motorsport is supposed to do ; Exciting the soul being one of them.

When I see Formula E looking seriously exciting around the streets of Monaco, I might start to get interested.

8

FE just doesn’t float my boat yet. Cars might look nice but their overall performance is light years behind F1. Hate the way they bounce around like home made go karts. It’s about more than the PU. F1 cars are optimised in every area to a mind blowing degree. I don’t see why FE is even held up beside F1, many lower category cars easily outperform FE. There is space for both but there is no real comparison.

9

I had a look at the Santiago practice today and yes they are very bouncy! It looked to me like they have no suspension and the tyres are at to high a pressure.
However it looks like someone listened at last and included some higer wider camera views so that some of the surroundings are visible.
But I am afraid all, in all it reminded me of my old Scalextric.

10

Hate it. Hate everything about it. Looks like Batman’s car circa 1989. Hate the sound (or lack thereof). Won’t watch. Refuse to acknowledge it even exists.
Sorry…rant over.

11

If this really is the future let’s put one on a track next to an F1 car and see how that goes.
I would think it would need to have a head start around half a lap, and my money would still be on the F1 car.
On another matter could someone tell Batman they have found his car.

12

James if you are an SMMT member do you have access to the battery standards committee. (I am assuming that one exists because back in my time on the in car multi-media committee we talked about all sorts and had presentations from other working groups.) (We talked of 24 and 36 Volt car systems, the European satnav system (Galleo) CANBUS, etc almost 30 years ago!) It is the technical guys from the MMs who attend sessions with the DIN, SAE the EN the ISO, CEN, VDA etc to formulate standards that define the possible battery shapes sizes and most importantly connection points.
You used to write in the electric car blog where I often commented as a sceptic.
I see that now finally the people I expected to be the leaders in re-charging have just woken up. I had forseen the heavy involvement of the petro chem companies having already got the infrastructure in their filling station networks. Shell and BP have now shown first stirrings.
But of course until the battery and recharging connection type is standardised there cannot be a nationwide universal re-charge or replace operation.
Originally it was envisaged that batteries would be unlocked and slid out from underneath and a replacement slotted in. You will remember all that no doubt.
But battery technology has advanced and seems to be travelling towards higher capacity- fast charge instead of replacement. So while FE may be showing one direction of development it is not necessarily what will happen in road cars. Because of the lack of standards we have had MMs all developing their own, which is long term bad for the consumer.
Of course now being retired and with no inside access any more I may be entirely wrong in my musings which I do not expect you to post, but you may care to think about some sort of industry investigation for this F1 audience, the FE lot may be interested as well.

13

Fan boost is a dreadful gimmick, pandering to children to get an audience. It needs to rid itself of such nonsense.

14

Tbh, I don’t know what to make of it. Future developments are sometimes hard to predict. What I do know however is that F1 atm is the pinnacle of the sport and I am sure that they, (interested parties), will want to maintain that position for sure. So I’am looking forward how F1 is going to develop over the years to come. I hope that there will be battles for positions and WC’s which in my opinion is more important to attract ‘new’ viewers than the supposed threat of FE. Regarding the design of the 2020 FE car, pfffffffffff Disney would do a better job I guess.

15

This FE car is nice to look at

The 2018 Indy Car with standard aero-kit is very nice to look at

F1 cars with their hooked noses are uuuurrrgly!….Such a shame!!!

16

“I saw the future. I just didn’t hear it coming.” – Chase Carrey, Former CEO of the now defunct F1, Winter 2025

17

This car looks lovely and I hope it is OK but it is a racing car and for a racing car the function will always trump the styling. Doing something like this is OK for a 1 make formula, much as I detest them and the myth it is fairer for the driver, as long as it is stable and safe. F1 has always been an engineering formula – that was what drew my interest in the early 1960s. Certainly if power was limited back to the 200bhp level of back then tyres would be smaller, the wake would be much smaller (the loss of momentum in the wake is only related to the power of the engine so less power = less wake) but I can’t see the fans wanting that, given the marketing they have been sold so far.

18

I think one of the biggest challenges to F1 is not FE, per se, but the increasing predictability of the racing.

As a measure of predictability I used the length of a winning streak by an individual constructor (e.g. Mercedes is currently on a 4-year winning streak). The attached pic shows how the length of winning streaks by constructors has risen steadily, decade by decade.

This is the primary reason why I don’t not plan to watch F1 this year. When I started watching in the mid-80s, typical winning streaks were around 2 years (i.e. unpredictable). Over the past 17 years, a winning streak as low as 2 years has become the exception.

19

Main issue with Formula E is the poor track layouts with hardly any space to overtake. Make tracks wider in several places.

20

The cars lol great, and the future of road cars is battery based, so it’s a no-brainer for Merc etc. so get into Formula E.

I think the marketing issue now is the drivers. Some failed or didn’t do well in F1, but do well in FE. Unfortunately this is how they’re judged.

I would rather watch F1 drivers doing a karting weekend, than these guys in FE, as you know you’re watching the best of the best.

The problem for F1 in the future will come when FE starts to attract CURRENT F1 stars to cross over. The same as Alonso did for Indy. At that point viewing will sky rocket….. offload your Liberty shares.

It will only take a Hamilton, Vettel or Verstappen to be offered a pay day to go over, and then the barriers could open and more go. Free to air FE, bye bye rip off paywall F1.

21

For your information, another one of the Liberty companies (Liberty Global?) owns the commercial rights for FE, in the same way Liberty Media owns these rights for F1. Basically, Liberty can’t lose, unless both racing series go kaput.

22

Does it go uphill? Can it run the proper F1 course at Monte Carlo?
Will there now be real track events? Or will it continue to be like an indoor electric gokart race?
The major problems of FE are the missing noise and the missing scenery. It all looks the same at all the tracks no matter where, they even managed to make part of the Monaco FE track look like Battersea Park. Long straight lined walls, identical in every part. No proper data like in F1.
I have tried to watch it every season but given up halfway through the first race each time.

23

I’ve seen a lot of this new car, including the 360 degree view that Marc Priestly talked about.

However, I’d not seen next to a “current” (albeit previous season) F1 car. Wow. It really does make it look old fashioned and clunky.

With speeds of up to 300kmh, Formula E might just get a new lease of life. The racing is already mostly entertaining!

24

Definitely a massive downgrade from the old gen fe car. I suppose the bulky aesthetic fits the overweight and sluggish nature of these cars. The nose looks good though; I wonder why F1 cars can’t have noses like that.

Aesthetics aside, I can’t fathom why some people are getting excited about cars that seldom exceed 220 kph down the straights and which can’t rival formula fords through the corners.

Plus the electric vehicle is a failed experiment and has no future in the marketplace unless the ICE gets banned.

25

honestly FE is looking great right now, and once the technology gets better alot of problems, like the pit stop and circuits used will get solved.

26

F1 racing has got more and more boring over the past few years & there’s no way I’m going to pay Sky to watch the procession, so F-E stands a chance, but I might just give up on the whole lot as it’s really just a way to waste my precious time.

On the other hand, F1 has an over-emphasis on aero, so you can’t follow close enough to pass without nonsense like DRS & is driven by shortsightedness/stupidity like trying to reduce costs by limiting the number of engines (resulting in making loads of engines & picking the best in no way lowering costs) or limiting testing (resulting in development of simulators with the richest teams spending the most on them), so anything which is different might be interesting if it has real racing.

Finally, how will recharging work? In F1, when it had refuelling, you balanced weight (of fuel) with lap time will F-E work on the idea that you use a smaller battery pack, but need pitstops? Seems to make a change of strategy 2->3 stop impossible, so all the cards are on the table at the start of the race (which is boring) – it sounds like an extension of marketing from the title sponsor.

The car looks interesting though! 🙂

27

As a 7 year old I was a huge fan of Senna and McLaren in the late 80’s, I have been an F1 fan ever since. But since F1 has gone to pay TV (Australia) my kids don’t see much of it. Worryingly for the F1 bosses, my kids and I watch all of the FE races on YouTube, my 7 year old is a huge fan of Buemi and my 4 year old is a fan of Bird….. I talk to them about F1 but they don’t see enough of it for it to be relevant. There is a massive long term cost to taking the short term cash bounce from Pay TV providers….

28

Interesting – That father-son dynamic is really important in passing on sports like football, rugby, cricket and F1

There are so many things demanding your time in modern life. One of my kids has followed my passion for motorsport, the other my passion for football. I don’t watch cricket and neither of them has developed an interest.

29

I have two boys. 11 and 7. Like me (& much of the world now), they watch more YouTube (& Netflix) than TV.
I have Foxtel Go on my PC during the F1 season so that I can watch P1-3 Q & R. Foxtel is so compelling that no-one else in the household watches it, even though it’s available on 3 devices.

Three years ago I bought a Williams F1 cap and wear it to school pick up every day. Not once has anyone commented to me about F1 or being a Williams supporter.

This sport is dying under a lack of promotion and an exclusivity that is going to make it irrelevant to future generations.

Keep in mind that my boys may never actually drive a car. I think FE will be more relevant and more accessible to them than F1 will ever be. A generation lost to F1.

30

Or father daughter? . I took my 13 year old and 10 year old daughters to see them last year at Silverstone on the Friday to see what all the fuss in our house over weekends is about . They loved it as an experience and mentioned how great the noise was! I smiled knowingly of years gone buy . This hit home , Sight , sense , smell , touch , sound . For most of us lucky enough to enjoy all the senses it creates the full experience . It is one Trump card F1 has over FE and it should be used to huge effect . These two series should be pushing to show the difference between them not an amalgamation in F1s case . F1 needs to become less sterile and more dirty .

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