Fans must be patient with #FormulaE

As far as debuts go, round 1 of the FIA Formula E World Championship couldn’t have gone much better. There was action up and down the field throughout, the grandstands were full and the heart stopping last corner, last lap incident between Prost and Heidfeld certainly got everybody talking. Fans at home seemed to be engaged as well, with over 40million people watching the event live around the world and 1billion twitter interactions taking place. For the most part it was a huge success, laying down a great foundations for the sport to now build on. I do however feel that there are some issues that need to be addressed if the fans are going to come back race after race.

Across social media and a number of online forums, it seems many felt that the cars were far too slow in race trim and I can see why this could put people off. Whilst the cars looked fantastic in qualifying with the full 200kw / 270bhp battery power available to them, come the race at times they appeared a sluggish. Why? Well the race was not an all out sprint; it was about managing the battery and getting to the end as quickly as possible. Unfortunately it did seem that the race distance was just that bit too much of a stretch for the battery unit;, however I’m not sure that this will continue to be so problematic.

As much as I hate to compare Formula E to Formula 1, it’s worth remembering that the first few races of the 2014 F1 season were pretty poor, both in terms of racing and as a spectacle. The sound was gone, the cars were heavy and slow and there were very few battles over the course of the race. Shortly before the Bahrain GP, the former Ferrari President joined a number of leading F1 figures in openly criticised the new Formula. Since then we have had a number of absolutely fantastic races, with some all times classics at venues like Canada, Bahrain and Hungary, with some incredible duels between drivers at tracks like Germany and Silverstone.

So what’s changed?

The early F1 races lacked excitement because teams were simply trying to understand the new power units and get the cars to end of the race. It was all about gathering data and maximising points in the early flyaway races; now that the teams are further along the learning curve we’re seeing much more excitement. I really do believe that Formula E is similar. The technology and cars are so different to anything we’ve seen, the street circuit so different from Donington Park race track, that it’s no surprise the opening race consisted of drivers simply trying to reach the end of the race. Once the drivers and teams get more confortable with the cars and, more importantly, gain further understanding of how to maximise the potential of the battery, I’m sure we’ll see much faster and exciting racing.

So give Formula E the chance it deserves. Yes there are some rough edges, but that was to be expected for such a unique series and the first race at that. For now, let’s just sit back and appreciate something new, different and – unlike other categories of motorsport – a series that can really make a difference to the motor industry.

Anil Parmar

A Step Into The Unknown: What to expect from the #BeijingEPrix.

This weekend will go down in the chapters of motorsport history. For the first time ever an electric ePrix will take place, hoping to change the future of the motor industry forever. So what can the teams expect from Beijing?

The Circuit

The 3.44km track will be based around Beijing’s famous Olympic ‘Birds Nest’ Stadium and will feature 20 turns, most of which are either quick chicanes or 90 degree corners. The 25 lap race will see each driver use 2 Spark-Renault electric cars, built by Spark Racing Technology and in collaboration with a variety of manufactures, including McLaren, Williams, Dallara and Michelin.

As with all street tracks, the circuit will be lined with walls and the track itself will be very bumpy, particularly under braking. Expect drivers to be punished for missing their apexes and to get flirtatious with the walls, particularly during qualifying.

The circuit is virtually the opposite of Donington Park where pre-season testing took place, so the teams will be going into the first round of season with little relevant data. Whereas Donington was fast and flowing, Beijing is much more technical with many braking points, allowing for the battery in each car to cool before the driver puts the throttle down again. As a result, we’ll see less overheating problems compared to Donington, where drivers often followed 2 or 3 quick laps with a slow one to cool the battery.

Weather

Air temperature is expected to be in the mid 20’s throughout the day and the chance of rain is minimal. Cloud cover could cause some issues with track temperature and therefore tyre warming; as the entire event takes place over one day, we may well see variances in track temperature throughout the event, giving engineers and drivers something to think about. The chance of rain is very low.

Race Day

There will be two practice sessions at the beginning of the day, giving fans a great opportunity to watch the drivers explore the limit on this new track. Qualifying will follow, with the format involving four groups of five cars. Each group will be given 10 minutes to set a time. The drivers will only be able to use one car during this session but they will have access to full power (200kw / 270bhp) throughout the session. During the ePrix, drivers will be restricted to 150kw of power, however a driver with FanBoost will temporarily be given an increased power output of 180kw for 5 seconds. Fans at the event will also be treated to a range of entertainment, attractions and live music.

In the UK, Formula E coverage will be live on ITV4 from 8am (Highlights 6pm).

Are you excited for the first ever Formula E ePrix? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.

Anil Parmar

Competition: Signed Bruno #Senna T-Shirt!

Update: This competition is now closed. We’ll be bringing you more competitions throughout the Formula E season, so stayed tuned!

For your chance to win a t-shirt signed by Bruno Senna – Mahindra Racing driver – simply head on over to our twitter.

Senna comp

One lucky winner will be chosen at random on Saturday 6th September 2014. Best of luck!

The first ever Formula E race takes place on the 13th September 2014 in Beijing!

Formula E presents its Safety Car

Formula E took the opportunity to unveil its proposed Safety Car during the 5th and final day of pre-season testing at Donington Park.

The thousands of fans who had turned up to attend were treated to their first look at the chosen BMW i8 – officially entitled the Qualcomm Safety Car.

Safety Car

Formula E’s technical team used the test to help evaluate two BMW i8’s and two BMW i3’s – aimed at being the official Safety, Medical and Extraction cars for the series.

These course cars will be fitted with Qualcomm Halo™ wireless charging technology – an inductive charging system allowing the car battery to be charged without the use of cables. The technology uses resonant magnetic induction to transfer energy between a ground-based pad and a charging pad fitted to the underside of the vehicle. The cars simply park over the base pad and charging automatically starts.

The Safety Car will be driven by experienced Portuguese driver Bruno Correia – official FIA-WTCC safety car driver since 2009. The medical and extraction cars will be overseen by FIA Medical Delegate Dr Phil Rayner and his team. Cars will be positioned at the end of the pitlane, charging wirelessly, ready to be rapidly deployed during practice, qualifying and the race.

Photography tips for Donington #FETest

Taking your camera with you to Formula E Testing at Donington to snap some pics of the cars in action? We’ve put together this guide for you.

The circuit can be notoriously tricky to photograph at – unless you are lucky enough to have a media pass to get you in the prime spots – with wire fences obscuring your view in many locations.

Here’s our Top 5 places to head to for the shots you want:

Donington Map1

1. Panning

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Take the tunnel to the inside of the circuit and head left to turn one and two. It’s the perfect pair of corners to track the cars through, as you can watch them arrive from down the main straight and follow them from left to right as they gradually accelerate through. The Pit Straight grandstand is another good, nearby alternative.

2. Running wide

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Sandwiched between two main straights, the tricky little left-right of the Fogarty Esses has caused many drivers to take a trip over the gravel during testing so far. You might even see a car end up in the tyres on the outside of the track.

3. Lock-Ups

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The entry to the Melbourne hairpin is a great choice is you want to catch a car locking a wheel. The cars break as late as they can for this hairpin having reached top speed down the back straight.

4. Close-Ups

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You’ll need to put your camera up against the fencing but looking back towards the exit of the Melbourne hairpin is possibly the best location to get some real close ups of the cars at slow speed.

5. Rear view

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If you want to get some shots of the Formula E cars from behind, head around the outside of the circuit to McLeans where you can watch the cars exiting the corner & making the short climb up to Coppice. If you are going to this corner, be aware that you can usually only access it by walking clockwise around the track & then back the way you came.

Formula E Diary #Fanshare

We would love to put a gallery of Fans pictures together from testing.

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Whether you’re an amateur photographer, a dab hand, or just a fan of the selfie, we would love you to share your photo’s from Formula E Testing with us!

Tweet your pictures to @formulaediary with the hashtag #FanShare

Or email them to us: contact@formulaediary.com

So please get in touch!

Formula E: Raceday Timetable Revealed

The FIA has revealed the timetable for Formula E events.

As we look at in our Guide to Formula E, Practice, Qualifying and the Race will all take place within the same one day event. This will offer spectators supreme value for money with plenty of on track action taking place. For Qualifying the cars will go out and set their times in 4 groups of 5 cars (randomly selected beforehand).

The Formula E Raceday Timetable:

08:15 – 09:00  Practice 1

10:30 – 11:00  Practice 2

12:00 – 12:10  Qualifying Group 1

12:15 – 12:25  Qualifying Group 2

12:30 – 12:40  Qualifying Group 3

12:45 – 12:55  Qualifying Group 4

16:00  Race (laps depended on circuit)

The Silent Revolution

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When the Formula E cars were first let loose at Donington Park back in June, we’ll be the first to admit that the cars took us by surprise. Not only did they look fantastic but they were impressively quick, flashing past us on the home straight as they reached top speeds of around 140mph. The sound was interesting too. Rather than the loud scream of a traditional racing engine, they produced a muted whoosh of disturbed air, alongside a whistling noise similar to that of a jet engine. It may not sound exciting, but it was quietly impressive.

It must be stressed that whist Formula E delivers in terms of sound, speed and aerodynamics; there is far more to the sport than this. It’s about battery technology and the push to make electric cars attractive and viable. It’s here that Formula E has a real chance of creating an impact. The limitations of battery powered cars are well documented; in particular, the time required to charge the battery is simply too long. With a lithium-ion battery, a fully charged Electric Vehicle (EV) can travel a distance comparable to an internal combustion engine with a full tank of gas; but the time it takes to recharge the battery is in the region of hours, not minutes. With long trips out of the equation, an EV may be suitable for inner-city travel, but uptake of these vehicles has remained slow. Can things really change?

Make no mistake; those behind Formula E are making all the right moves to give Formula E a chance to change public perception around electric cars. For a start, the ten E-Prix races in the first season will take place solely around street circuits in some of the most famous cities in the world. If the aim is to promote and excite the public about electric vehicles – particularly the younger generation of sports fans – then having those cars race in an energetic city environment will work wonders. On top of that you’ve got a diverse line up of teams and drivers taking part: including former Formula 1 drivers such as Bruno Senna and Karun Chandok. These world class drivers will be battling wheel to wheel in cars that produce an impressive amount of torque. We’re guaranteed to get some fantastic racing on some incredibly technically demanding circuits, so the spectacle alone should be enough to draw the fans in.

Perhaps the biggest plus that the sport has going for it however, is that it is more than just a spec series. Whilst the cars and battery technology will be identical across all teams in the sports inaugural season, Formula E hope to encourage manufacturers to come in and create better battery technology once the sport hits year two. Unlike Formula 1 – where teams chase aerodynamic improvements – teams and manufactures will aim to produce lighter, longer lasting batteries in an arms race to see who can come out on top. This will not only have an enormous impact on the future of electric cars, but could well shape the future of the motor industry as a whole.

Formula E does not aim to challenge Formula 1 as the premier racing series on the planet, neither does it aim to replace GP2 as a feeder series for future F1 champions. With sustainability at the forefront, the sport aims to drive forward technologies for real world EV application and at the same time change the public’s perception; making electric vehicles sexier. None of this however compromises the sports vision of creating an exciting race series; a series that engages with fans in ways the racing world hasn’t seen before. Whilst fans of traditional motorsport may still be sceptical, the silent revolution is coming.

We’ll be sure to be here with you every step of the way.

Anil Palmer, Tom Clancy