Rapid charge pits stops? Boost for Formula E as tech giant comes in as title sponsor
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Jan 2018   |  1:56 pm GMT  |  50 comments

There was no disguising the glee of Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag this afternoon as he announced a seven year multi-million pound title sponsorship deal with robots to rapid charging tech giant ABB.

The first title sponsorship for an FIA single seater series will certainly raise some eyebrows, not least coming on the back of the announcements in 2017 that Mercedes and Porsche will join the series in it’s fifth championship season.

Agag noted that the series will now be called ABB Formula E championship and that special permission was needed from FIA president Jean Todt for an FIA series to have a title sponsor. This has never happened in Formula 1, unlike the Premier League, which had a title partner for many years, for example.

The deal will run until 2025 and ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer noted that this was the initial term, that they would decide what happened after that.

ABB is a world leader in electrical infrastructure and transportation as well as rapid charging and this is where the appeal lies for this partnership.

Formula E, which exists to promote electric vehicles and sustainable transport, is due to move to a single battery which can last a whole race in Season V. Agag suggested that with this deal the way was clear for Formula E to move quickly beyond that to the concept of much faster Formula E cars, which would run for flat-out stints, then ‘refuel’ by pitting for a ten second rapid charge before rejoining.

ABB plan to use the Formula E series to develop technologies that can be rolled out in urban mobility in future, much as F1 has done much to pioneer ‘track to road’ technologies in what he and Agag called ‘The race to the future’.

Spiesshofer predicted that with many governments around the world calling time on petrol and diesel powered cars in the next 20 years, “the damburst of a switch to electric cars’ is only a few years away.

Formula E is now it its fourth season and by Agag’s own admission almost failed at the end of the first season for financial reasons. A tactical investment by Liberty Global saved it and that investment is now looking quite smart as Formula E begins to take on some real momentum.

As Liberty Global is the sister company of F1 owners Liberty Media, both owned by John Malone, the group has a hedge on the future of single seater motorsport; surely at some point in the near future the series will be co-presented and beyond that may even converge.

What do you think of this development? How do you feel about Formula E? Leave your comments in the section below

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With cars that can go a whole race, Formula E is over the hump and will only get faster from here. I must confess that I still don’t entirely ‘get’ it, but I suspect I’m not exactly the target audience. It’s got decent drivers and some good racing, but it’s still pretty slow and the season calendar is weird, making it difficult to follow.

I’ve been keeping a weather eye on it up to now, but I might make a bit more of an effort this year with the new car and manufacturers on board.


@ Kenny Carwash,

The new cars don’t come online until next season. And the car itself is going to be pretty interesting from an aero point of view. No rear wing for a start.

I’ve seen every race since the first one and have been to five, here in the UK and in Long Beach also.

Really enjoying it and it’s getting better all the time. The form guide has counted for nothing so far this season too so that’s been another interesting factor.

Yes the sound takes a LOT of getting used to but I just love racing and it’s provided plenty of that so far. I’d say give it a go.


FE is all about technology.
F1 is all about trolley engines. Road relevance – ya right LOLz.


Frankly I’m agog at Agag. I can see that he’s there to promote Formula E, but trashing the F1 present for a far from certain FE future seems short sighted and rather demeaning to the whole concept of motorsport.

There’s a lot of talk of electric motors being the future, but not much sensible said about energy densities which would allow comparable racing, or any honesty about how the electrical energy will be produced. I’m reminded of Midgley and his ‘perfectly safe’ tetra-ethyl lead.


Why can’t power just be transmission be through the air and ground? I thought someone may have been close to that free power thing but nothing is free.


A big scam in its present form that everyone is buying into so as not to look evil.
The future seems to be all the oil sent to power stations to burn,then send electricity to our homes and charging stations at a vastly inflated price to keep the tax revenue flowing.
Any minute now honda will deploy the earth car livery again lol.
F1 should remember its the early adopter that pays the highest price.


*sigh* There are so many stories about Formula E that make me think about how great a series it could be. Then I remember about fan boost and soundtracks and go and do something else…


How do you feel about engine modes and wastegates and ceramic microphones? Oh…those are OK?


Not good but FE can’t even go around a proper sized race track.


I’m pretty nonchalant towards engine modes, and no nothing about wastegates and ceramic microphones. I fail to see how they fit into this discussion though; have I missed talk of drivers having their engine modes selected by hashtag trends on social media or something similar?


Well, you see, engine modes…the thing that is written by software guys for the drivers and, and which drivers have illustrated they are not capable of managing of their own are things that supplement driver skill, take control out of driver’s hands and they are told to do this by engineers. Some have better ones, some don’t. Fan boost, without fan input.

Soundtracks was your other objection, and much commenting has been done on that here, and the fake/artificial goals F1 has for the soundtrack. DYK that car makers now pump fake engine sounds into their cars to make their cars more racy and powerful sounding? Ain’t that something. Actual car soundtracks for actual cars you pay for.


Fan boost, without fan input

Sebee, do you genuinely not know which part of the fan boost I object to? Or are you just trying to find any tenuous link to enable to have another rant about engine modes? Just to be totally clear, it is the “fan input” with which I take issue – A boost being applied to a car based on nothing other than a public vote. Now that’s clear, we can quite happily disregard the rest of your comments about alternative boost methods.

As for your comments about soundtracks, yes I object to any artificial goals for artificial of manipulation of sounds in F1. I can assure you that no car I’ve ever paid for has an ever had an artificial sound track as I don’t drive and have no interest in road cars in general so I also don’t have any real interest in discussing anything deriving from this particular tangent further either.


Rapid charge ? Excellent now can you get the same battery into an old iPhone 😁


Complainging abumout throttling the iPhone to ensure battery life to and prolong product life and keep batteries and phones out of landfills? Spoiled consumers!


Yep and when does Lithium run out?

Maybe we will all have to go back to horses and trains.


Someone, proof read!


Sebee it seems your predictive texts has highlighted another one of your fetish search words 👿 😄 ” your rear out and abit of throttling” next thing you’ll have a poster of David Carridine in your wardrobe next to a leather tie and an orange.


note to self: clear predictive text cache.


🤣 Maybe a good idea on cache🤣
I do agree regarding your note on the chuck away society. Some phones are viable and should be used until the phone does the “Terminator red dot fade out” & the music and credits start. Instead of going to a land fill.

Tornillo Amarillo

How do you feel about Formula E?

I think is the future because petrol is gonna run out… But the present of racing for most of us is Formula 1.

I guess it was a bit of shock to change from steam engines to petrol engines at some point in the economy history, wasn’t it?


You are right oil will run out sort of. When the price point for the switch to fully electric happens it will take more than 20 years.

In fact that’s not exactly the answer as you can’t yet and probably never will be able to run everything off of solar power.

The only thing that makes sense is nuclear power but you can’t trust every country to have breeder reactors that have less waste plus everyone is so scared of that when chemical plants can cause plenty of damage too if things go wrong.


Maybe someday they will discover the replaceable battery concept. TWo race casrs = idiotic. 15 munite recharge period = bathroom break. 2 minute battery change = racing.


Have you any idea how much one of those batteries weighs? Changing it in two minutes when it is positioned well inside (and in all probability low down) the chassis is further from reality than fast charging a little in a few seconds…


Hydraulics? And a standard way of doing it. It seems doable.


Weight? Jacks can handle wieght. Audi can change the whole rear end of a LMP car in 4-8minutes.
As for charging in a few seconds? show me a battery that large that charges in a few seconds. That is pure fantasy at this moment. Let’s talk reality here not fiction.


Its a recipe for a real bad fire. 15 seconds no way.


Already been done! Several years ago. JA may remember a certain electric car blog of which he was one of the writers. It was tried out in Israel I think. Car drives up small ramp to platform, old batt released slid out, new bat slid in, locked, car drives off. Ok if all bats same size and connection location.


Gaining momentum? Momentum as in Formula E Montreal event recent news?

What really happened there? Was it just good old PQ government due diligence and fiscal responsibility? Or was it something much more? Perhaps we’ll find out in a few years in one of the future but regular episodes of Montreal Anti-Corruption Squad raids?

Fast charging is definitely going to be one of the factors that addresses some of the objections in electric cars. It has been a feature of electronics with non-removable batteries to overcome those objections, and will come to cars too.

Imagine that…while Formula 1 killed refuelling, here is Formula E, likely to feature it in the near future as a performance gaining advantage. Keep weighing those cars down at the start Formula 1 and adding more weight to the them too. One day soon perhaps you’ll wake up and learn how a Formula E car has beat a Formula 1 car lap time. Oops. How did that happen?


Maybe just maybe a standard quick change battery might be a better solution as charging that quick doesn’t sound safe to me.

Does anyone know where ABB are from? China? If so not a good idea.


By the way jdr, China is so far ahead on electric. Three of the top 5 selling electric cars are chines. There are 200-300k electric buses in China. There are if I remember right 200m electric scooters in China on the roads. It’s nuts!

They are so far ahead on this, and clearly, with the overall simplicity of the electric car, they see the potential to become the world’s leading manufacturer of the electric car.

For example, when (yes, I am convinced it’s just a matter of time, not if) Apple makes the electric car – which will deployed for their autonomous/electric car service in cities around the world, where do you think the 10s of millions of Apple cars will be made?


I always liked the mid race refueling as it added an additional element of strategy (even more so with the current generation of tyres). However…good old Sebee..never let fact get in the way of fiction…the incremental weight requirements in the two scenarios are hardly comparable if (really) fast charging is available.


Sebee, maybe one day an FE car will be capable of turning F1 lap times, but as they currently aren’t even capable of driving around a full sized race track, we might just be waiting a little bit longer than you think. Just to put things in perspective, you like to deride F1 cars as being too heavy, but an FE car weighs 800kg, and produces 270bhp in quali mode, and only 180 bhp in race mode. The power will increase next year to a massive 335 bhp in qualifying, but the weight is going up by another 50kg as well….


I think you are right. 20 years is overly optimistic IMO. The entire power grid will need to change to handle nothing but electric cars.

As I see it there is also a car culture in most countries. My guess not in the US but certainly in cities. There is a pretty good distance between many here.

In the EU people probably don’t see that as much I dunno. Probably if you are going from Paris to Rome you wouldn’t drive or if you did there would be enough city centers in between to charge or switch batteries or something.

A standard battery for this might help. I’m not so sure about quick charging and none of this will work for trucking containers all over the place.


I hope you’ve already registered jamesallenonfe.com


The day they can swap the PU and fuel tank out of an F1 car and replace it with electric motor(s) and a power pack, and that car can do the same distance as F1 do now in the same time, will be when F1 go electric IMHO.


The maths of rapid charging and the likely impact on the grid of mass deployment still baffle me. Consider (in round numbers):
Typical max household supply: 100 Amps (for everything, not just charging)
Large Tesla battery: 100kW
Current needed to fully charge in 1 hour (@250v): 400 Amps
Time taken to fully charge your Tesla (using half the available household supply): 8 hours
Current needed to fully charge in 6 mins: 4,000 Amps
Current needed for today’s typical carpark with 10 charging stations: 40,000 Amps
Current needed for tomorrow’s typical carpark with 100 charging stations: 400,000 Amps
Are we really going to increase the capacity of household supplies by a factor of 10 to allow rapid charging at home?


Blackouts here we come!


One of those ecological sidebars which should be a card on the table face up, wouldn’t ya think? There is no free lunch.


You don’t need to charge cars in a car park in 6 minutes though. At motorway services, yes, but even then you can halve the numbers and make it 12 minutes and it would be perfectly acceptable (Do you really think you should drive 600 miles without less than a 12 minute break in between?). At home/work you just need to be able to charge up overnight, which is 8 hours.


Do we need to charge that fast at home? While we’re sleeping, off peak..let it charge in 8 hours. No?

Fast charge is needed on the road. Like gas stations.


@seebee Isn’t ABB that Chinese company that makes wind turbines?

If so they also look extremely similar to the GE ones even down to the software that controls them. I thought only Siemens and GE made these.

I wonder because I just went to the ABB site and clicked about and it did not say where they were located.

So any info from anyone would be helpful. TIA


Oops. Not German. Swedish-Swiss conglomerate


Reasonably sure that ABB is German


Honestly jdr, I know nothing about it. Perhaps I’ll look into it.

I find the whole dynamic of what happens in China and the west interesting.

I mean, we go there to exploit their cheap labour and manufacturing, expect them to make our hardware a certain way, teach them how to do it, how to quality control it, and then we think they will forget all that and learn nothing? And apply none of it to their product? And then we expect to have control over their market on that product as well?

Hey, let me show you how to make the most delicious cookies that my grandma-ma used to make. It’s a super secret recipe. After I show you how to make them, and get you to make them for me from now on on the cheap, so I don’t have to do the hard part of making them, I expect you to never make them yourself, for yourself, for anyone else. Got it?

…how naive.


Those cheap Range Rover clones look good!


ABB is an old traditional swiss company (or at least was, never sure these days).


This is quite a significant development for Formula E. It is going to be hard to keep manufacturers in F1 soon, especially beyond 2020. I’m starting to think that maybe the future of F1 engines should be a standard non-hybrid NA engine and for F1 to go down the purely entertainment route rather than fighting for road relevance – since it’s now clear which series is the most road relevant going forward.


Title sponsorship works for NASCAR and other racing series, so it seems a natural effort to trial. Hopefully the promotion of electric cars can – at some point – bring the cost-per-mile and aggregate ecological footprint information to the fore as well.

Kieran Donnelly

I did used to watch Formula E a bit and, while it could occasionally produce interesting races, I did get sick of the cars usually being forced down narrow tracks into narrow chicanes and u-turns where there was 0% chance of an overtake without 1 or both cars suffering damage. Made the “race” seem sort of pointless and as processional as anything Formula 1 could produce!

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