#FormulaE On The Move

For such a young series, the amount of positivity surrounding Formula E at the moment is astonishing. A quick glance at social media throughout, and even away from a race weekend shows just how quickly fans have fallen in love with the new electric racing series. With Monday’s news that eight manufacturers have already signed up for the 2015/2016 race, it’s clear to see that Formula E’s first season has been a huge success.

‘The manufacturers have already brought a chassis to start developing’, says Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E. ‘They should have them by April and they should be ready to crash test in May and June’. He later went on to suggest that off-season testing could take place in July, which will likely take place in Donington, home of the Formula E teams.

Whilst the near future looks very exciting for fans of Formula E, the long-term future of the series is starting to take shape. ‘The manufacturers will be working on the battery in season three and four to make them more efficient and hopefully last longer, but the big leap will happen in season five when they have to build only one to last the whole race’, said Agag.

Those who haven’t yet bought into the series often cite the need for switching cars mid-way through a race as a turn off. Whilst the long-term plan of the series will give the teams a way of demonstrating just how much progress is being made in the world of electric batteries, many will still argue that the need to switch cars after no more than a dozen laps detracts from the show and simply draws too much attention to the limitations of electric cars. Thankfully the racing up to this point has been making many of the headlines and fans are willing to give the cars time to develop because the on-track action has been first class. However the move to using only one car per race could prove to be a marketing opportunity that is too good to pass up for many manufacturers.

Manufacturers will be hoping that the success of Formula E will cause global markets to see higher adoption rates of electric vehicles, emulating countries like Japan where there are over 40,000 individual charging units across the country, compared to around 34,000 petrol stations. It should therefore come as no surprise that Japanese fans have become Formula E’s single largest audience, with a combined viewership of over 15 million from the opening four races.

Whilst the future of electric cars is not dependent on Formula E, the series will undoubtedly impact the general publics opinion on electric cars and their viability as replacements for petroleum based vehicles.

What do you make of this news? Leave your thoughts below!

#FormulaE To Race In Moscow

From Formula E’s inception, we have been told the inaugural season will feature 10 races, however the location of the tenth race has been somewhat of a mystery since the season started. Today, the FIA have announced that on June 6th, Formula E will arrive in Moscow for what will be round nine of the FIA Formula E Championship.

There was always some uncertainty around the mystery location for the ‘Round Nine’ on the calendar but Russia makes sense from a geographical perspective. Moscow, which sits at the Western point of Russia, adds another European round to the Formula E championship. Given that there were rumours about London potentially holding two rounds of championship in back-to-back fashion, it’s clear that the FIA and the Formula E governing body were looking to add another European venue to the calendar, and Russia was a strong candidate due to its recent revival in the motorsport world.

Russia’s presence in FIA-accredited motorsport series has been on the rise in recent years, with the successful debuts of the WTCC at the fantastic Moscow Raceway in 2012 and Formula One race in Sochi showing that there is clearly a strong appetite in the country for Motorsport. There is also Daniil Kvyat, a Russian driver signed to the Red Bull Formula One team, who will surely become a hero to many young Russians looking to start a career in Motorsport.

Speaking to the Formula E website, Jean Todt said: ‘It (Formula E) fits perfectly in the FIA’s traditional role as a leading promoter of innovation, technology and performance in the automotive sector. I am sure Moscow will enjoy the event’’.

moscow-track

The circuit, which runs alongside the Moskva River, looks surprisingly high speed for a street circuit, with no slow corners until T11.  Turns 2-6 immediately grab our attention and will likely prove to be a great challenge for the drivers, whilst a series of slow, technical corners at the end of the circuit will provide drivers with opportunities to overtake. The circuit layout alone suggests that this event could be a massive success.

Russia’s introduction now means that the Berlin ePrix has been moved forward by one week and will now take place on May 23rd. The adjusted calendar now looks like this:

Round 5 – Miami ePrix, USA, March 14 2015

Round 6 – Long Beach ePrix, USA, April 4 2015

Round 7 – Monaco ePrix, Monaco, May 9 2015

Round 8 – Berlin ePrix, Germany, May 23 2015

Round 9 – Moscow ePrix, Russia, June 6 2015

Round 10 – London ePrix, UK June 27 2015

A Flashback to Malaysia: Why Is #FormulaE Relevant?

Those of you who watched the ITV 4 feed for the Malaysian Formula E race in November would have had the opportunity to catch an interview with Najib Razak, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, shortly before the race started. It was a fascinating interview and it’s one I think is worth revisiting, particularly for those who missed out on it the first time round.

Over the last decade, there has been huge push for all governments to commit to being ‘green’. The term itself is multi-faceted and it clearly means different things to different countries, but the goal is to simply to become less dependent on fossil fuels and seek solutions to the energy crisis. If you follow American politics you’ll be well aware that the Obama administration has used its authority in the past 18 months to introduce significant greenhouse restrictions for power plants, as well as severely restricting methane emissions for the gas and oil industry. ‘Climate change’ and ‘carbon footprint’ are two phrases which no country can ignore at this point.

Najib Razak, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, is under no illusions that global warming and climate change are a significant threat to our planet, and he clearly views Malaysia’s Formula E race as a statement of intent. Speaking to Nicki Shields, he said ‘We believe in being green, we believe we must our part in cutting down on carbon emissions’. It’s clear that he was not just representing Malaysia’s view on motorsport but on investing in green initiatives, as well as the motor industry, as a whole. ‘It’s the right signal, the show we are serious about electric cars’, he continued.

If Formula E is to succeed in the early years, it needs the backing of governments who are willing to spend money and produce race tracks in busy city centres. Formula E makes perfect business sense; if Formula E can help develop battery technology and promote electric cars, then the amount of electric cars used in countries such as Malaysia will likely go up, thus reducing the nations carbon footprint. The final benefit of course is to the cities themselves. ‘Formula E allows us to showcase it (Putrajaya) to the World’ he finished.

There have already been multiple reports from across the globe that other major cities want to hold Formula E events, and this really shouldn’t surprise anyone. Formula E has a sustainable business model, and the benefits to holding a race are simply too good to pass up. There may only be 10 races in its first season, but if the success of the first four races is anything to go by, more countries could be queuing up over the next months.

#FormulaE: When It Rains It Pours!

We are four races into the Formula E season but the season has barely started for Venturi’s Nick Heidfeld, who had another disastrous race in Buenos Aires. A win in the 2013 American Le Man series remains his sole win in over 15 years of competitive motorsport, a fact that serves as a reminder of how cruel motorsport can be.

Heidfeld looked certain to take the first ever Formula E chequered flag in Beijing after attempting a last-corner overtake on Prost. Prost’s infamous defensive move caused Heidfeld to lose control and go airborne in the dramatic final moments of the race. Unfortunately for Nick, it hasn’t gone much better since then.

A double penalty in Punta del Este sent him from 1st to the back of the grid, eventually claiming just a single point with the help of fanboost. In Argentina, Heidfeld battled Sebastian Buemi early and look destined to win, following the retirements of Lucas Di Grassi and Buemi, who both retired from the lead. With just laps remaining, race control announced that Heidfeld had been found guilty of speeding in the pitlane, a penalty he took on the penultimate lap. Heidfeld eventually finished 8th, taking his points total to just 5 after four rounds.

Motorsport can be an incredibly cruel environment and ‘fairytales’ in the sport are few and far between. In an alternate reality, Heidfeld would be leading the championship going into the two month break, but as things stand he sits 53 points behind championship leader Lucas di Grassi. Venturii are also rock bottom in the team standings, with Stéphane Sarrazin also struggling to impress.

There is a notion in sport that misfortune tends to even itself out over a season however in this case, that looks likely. In a series with as much close racing as Formula E, incidents and retirements are never too far away and it would be nothing short of miraculous for Heidfeld to get himself back in the championship fight, especially when there are only six races left in the season.

Formula E is currently on a two month hiatus before we go racing again in Miami. Let’s hope things go a bit better quick Nick once we’re in the States.

Anil Parmar

An Electric Start to 2015: #FormulaE arrives in Argentina!

The first Formula E race of 2015 takes place this weekend as the teams and drivers tackle a tricky street circuit in Buenos Aires. Should we expect another nail biter?

Argentina has a significant history within motorsport, having hosted a variety of races across different series over the years, from Formula 1 to Moto GP. Juan Manuel Fangio – five times World Drivers’ Champion – was also an Argentinian and won his home race 4 times. It’s fitting that Formula E arrives at a country full of motorsport history in its first season.

The Circuit

 

The circuit has a wide array of corners, from hairpins, chicanes and long straights, clearly taking inspiration from the tracks we’ve already raced at. Overtaking will certainly be possible, particularly as the drivers battle into T1 and into T5, whilst overtaking may also be possible into T7 and the final chicane. It’s worth noting that the start line for this track is a few corners away from the finish line; the race will start on the main straight but the chequered flag will wave shortly after the small straight in the final sector. Let’s hope the drivers remember this as they start their final lap! We wouldn’t want a repeat of this now, would we?

Weather

The current forecast suggests that race day will be dry however rain is expected throughout the entire week so Saturday’s forecast could change at any moment.

The Drivers Championship

  1. Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT) 58 Pts
  2. Sébastien Buemi (e.dams Renault) 40 Pts
  3. Sam Bird (Virgin Racing) 40 Pts
  4. Nicolas Prost (e.dams Renault) 24 Pts
  5. Nelson Piquet (China Racing) 22 Pts
  6. JeromeD’Ambrosio (Dragon Racing) 22 Pts
  7. Frank Montagny (Andretti) 18 Pts
  8. Karun Chandok (Mahindra Racing) 18 Pts
  9. Jaime Alguersuari (Virgin Racing) 14 Pts
  10. Oriol Servià (Dragon Racing) 14 Pts
  11. Jarno Trulli (Trulli) 12 Pts
  12. Charles Pic (Andretti) 12 Pts
  13. Bruno Senna (Mahindra Racing) 8 Pts
  14. Antonio Felix da Costa (Amlin Aguri) 4 Pts
  15. Daniel Abt (Audi Sport ABT) 4 Pts
  16. Jean-Eric Vergne (Andretti) 3 Pts
  17. Stéphane Sarrazin (Venturi) 2 Pts
  18. Takuma Sato (Amlin Aguri) 2 Pts
  19. Nick Heidfeld (Venturi) 1 Pts

Lucas di Grassi comfortably leads the championship, having finished on the podium in each of the first 3 races, whereas Buemi and Sam Bird both have a DNF to their names already. Several drivers will be looking for a strong result to kick start their season, with both Daniel Abt and Nick Heidfeld having under performed in the opening races. In the Team Standings, e.dams-Renault lead the way with 64 points, just 2 ahead of Audi Sport ABT. Unfortunately both Amlin Aguri and Venturi have yet to get into the double digits.

Fanboost

You can give a fanboost vote to your favourite driver by heading here:

http://fanboost.fiaformulae.com/

Can anyone stop Senna from receiving fanboost for the 4th race in a row?

Is Formula 1 A Sport?

Lewis Hamilton won his maiden BBC Personality of the Year award last night following a season in which he took 11 wins for Mercedes. He won his second championship in style, coming from behind to usurp Nico Rosberg from the lead of the championship with just 5 races to go. It should be no surprise that Lewis won Sports Personality of the Year as he is a huge box office draw, something F1 lacked when Sebastian Vettel was winning titles. Lewis is exciting to watch, often controversial and is nearly always involved in some sort of drama. Unfortunately, not everyone was happy that he won the award.

Social media revealed just how misguided some people are with regards to their view on Formula 1 as a sport. Those that don’t understand and follow the sport commonly hold comments such as ‘They are just driving cars or He only won because he had the fastest car’; those comments are incredibly misguided and almost laughable.

What is sport? Nowadays we refer to sport simply as competitive games, often involving some degree of physical exertion. Football, Rugby, Tennis and Cricket are all regarded as sports, but F1 is often overlooked. Of course, if you asked Ernest Hemmingway on his views on sport, it was quite simple:

“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.”

Sport is more than just playing a game; in its purest sense it’s the pursuit of victory at all costs. Those that say F1 is just not a sport should talk to the Father of Jules Bianchi; his son still remains in a coma after suffering from a head-on collision during the Japanese GP of 2014. If Jules could get up and race again, right on the limit, I’m sure he’d do it in a heartbeat, such is a racer’s sporting attitude. I would argue that motorsport is maybe the purest of sports, with the drivers required to put everything on the line, including their lives, in order to win. There is no game is motorsport, you either commit or you walk away. It’s as simple as that.

One must also consider everything that top-end Formula 1 drivers must give up in order to compete for the victory. The physical fitness required to dance on the limit of the most fearsome cars in the world is no easy feat, and whether you’re Lewis Hamilton or Max Chilton, the training required to be fit enough to ‘push’ a F1 car to the limit for 2 hours is extraordinary. Jenson Button, one of the fittest athletes on the grid, notoriously competes in triathlons and unlike others triathletes, does so on the strictest of diets to ensure that he doesn’t put on any mass. At the beginning of the 2014 season he commented that he hadn’t eaten carbohydrates throughout the winter of 2013… would other athletes be able to manage that?

As far as Sports Personality of the Year is concerned, I’m delighted Hamilton won because as a sports personality, he is by far the biggest draw the U.K has. I can only hope that the ‘It’s not a sport’ belief held by some (unsurprisingly those that don’t understand motorsport, let alone F1) dies down and our favourite sport stars are recognised for the sacrifices and commitments they make to their craft. The highest levels of motorsport are much more than just ‘lapping circle’s’ or ‘driving a car’; they are a showcase for incredible talent and disciple, able to take control of the most dangerous and fast cars in the world for the pursuit of victory. If Formula 1 isn’t a sport, I don’t know what is.

Anil Parmar

Heartbreak for Vergne as Buemi wins #FormulaE classic in Uruguay

Sebastian Buemi took victory for e.Dams-Renault in a dramatic race in Uruguay which featured multiple safety cars and retirements. For much of the race it appeared that former F1 driver Jean-Eric Vergne, making his Formula E debut, could have taken the win but a retirement on the penultimate lap as he challenged the lead gave victory to Buemi. Lucas Di Grassi scored yet another podium, maintaining his lead at the top of the championship.

The start was fascinating, with those starting on the even side of the grid getting much better starts than others Nelson Piquet Jr made an incredible start, taking the lead from Vergne going into T1. This set us up for a ten lap battle between the pair, with Piquet holding on until lap 13 until he was caught by Vergne at the hairpin.

As in Malaysia, there were a couple of early retirements and safety cars. Daniel Abt retired early with a mechanical gremlin whilst Sam Bird retired on lap 4, hitting the wall on the exit of the fast turn 1 chicane. It was a disappointing weekend for Bird, who dominated in Malaysia but never had the speed this time out.

The first round of pit stops came on lap 16, triggered by Sarrazin’s Venturi car hitting the wall after being touched from the back by Brabham. There was to be more bad news for the other Venturi of Nick Heidfeld; he led the race after the pit stops but it emerged that he had broken the minimum pit stop time of 64 seconds, as well as using more power than is permitted through the regulations. A double penalty saw him tumble down the timesheets.

The final segment of the race involved several battles, including a fight up front between Jean-Eric Vergne and Sebastian Buemi. A late safety car, caused by a spin from Brabham, closed the pack up for a 2-lap sprint to the end. We were set for a grandstand finish, with Buemi struggling to keep the faster Vergne behind him. This battle led to Buemi controversially missing two chicanes in order to keep his lead from Vergne. The ex-Toro Rosso driver would not get another chance to fight for the lead however, as an electrical problem saw him retire as he prepared another attack. In many ways it was a huge anti-climax, but it was certainly dramatic and a reminder of how cruel motorsport can be. Motorsport rarely does fairy tales and Vergne’s miserable winter came to a depressing conclusion.

There were some great success stories further down the field though, with Jarno Trulli taking 4th place after mixed fortunes in the early rounds and Bruno Senna recovering to 6th after his first car suffered from mechanical damage. Of course, the biggest winner was Formula E as we were once again treated to a fantastic race, with lots of overtaking and drama. The circuit officials deserve a lot of credit too, with the circuit receiving rave reviews from the drivers and the fans.

Uruguay was also going to be a big test for Formula E, as it was the first race to take place at a suitable viewing time for those in Europe. If the sold out grandstands and reaction on social media is anything to go by, Formula E is no longer a series associated with the word ‘potential’, but a series associated with real racing. 2015 could be a pivotal year for the motor racing industry, and it has Formula E to thank for it.

Anil Parmar

Formula E at the Uruguayan Coast

The final Formula E race of the year is set to take place this weekend as Formula E visits another street circuit, this time at Punta Del Este in Uruguay. What should we expect?

First of all, there are a couple of driver changes. First off, Antonio Garcia comes in for Ho-Pin Tung for the China Racing team, who have had a slow start to the season. Salvador Duran will be driving for Amlin Aguri in place of Katherine Legge whilst Jean-Eric Vergne, who competed in Formula 1 for the last three seasons, will drive for Andretti. It will be the first time Vergne has driven a Formula E car so it will be fascinating to see how quickly he can adapt to these cars. Vergne’s move is yet another example of how attractive Formula E is to Formula 1 drivers, as he is set to race alongside former F1 drivers Nick Heidfeld, Karun Chandok and Jarno Trulli to name a few.

As for the circuit, it’s a tight yet fast street circuit set on the Uruguayan coast. There is a high number of hard braking zones however as the track is so narrow, overtaking could be very difficult. Qualifying will almost certainly be more important here than it was at Malaysia, where we saw moves at almost every corner of the circuit.

Lenght: 2.8 KM

Turns: 20

Number of laps: 31 laps

Race Start: 16:04 local / 18:04 UK

UK channel: 17:00 on ITV4

The Championship Battle

1) Lucas Di Grassi (ABT) 43 Pts

2) Sam Bird (Virgin) 40 Pts

3) Frank Montagny (Virgin) 18 Pts

4) Nicolas Prost (eDams) 18 Pts

5) Jerome d’Ambrosio (Dragon) 18 Pts

6) Karun Chandhok (Mahindra) 18 Pts

7) Sebastien Buemi (eDams) 15 Pts

8) Charles Pic (Andretti) 12 Pts

9) Oriol Servia (Dragon) 12 Pts

10) Nelson Piquet Jr (China Racing) 4 Pts

11) Antonio Felix Da Costa (Almin) 4 Pts

12) Jaime Alguersuari (Virgin) 4 Pts

13) Stephane Sarrazin (Venturi) 2 Pts

14) Daniel Abt (Abt) 2 Pts

15) Takuma Sato (Almin) 2 Pts

Lucas Di Grassi and Sam Bird lead the way in the inaugural championship and it’s hard to look elsewhere for a potential winner. With that in mind, keep an eye out for Nick Heidfeld; he’s been very quick in the first two races but in both races he was involved in collisions, neither of which were his fault.

Fanboost

You can give a fanboost vote to your favourite driver by going here:

http://fanboost.fiaformulae.com/

Can anyone stop Senna from receiving fanboost for the 3rd race in a row?

Complete EVENT SCHEDULE (UK TIMES) 

10.15 – Free Practice 1 (45 min)

12.30 – Free Practice 2 (45 min)

14.00 – Qualy Group 1

14.15 – Qualy Group 2

14.30 – Qualy Group 3

14.45 – Qualy Group 4

18.00 – E-Prix di Punta del Este

OFFICIAL LIVE STREAMING

http://www.fiaformulae.com/live

 

#FormulaE Returns With A Bang At Putrajaya!

After a quiet debut in China, the Malaysian ePrix showed everyone that Formula E is a series capable of providing some fantastic racing. The race was dominated by Sam Bird, who was in a league of his own throughout the race. 

The on track action saw 2 safety cars deployed with the first half of the ePrix, the first of which lead to Sam Bird taking the lead at the restart with a fantastic move on pole sitter Oriol Servia. Unfortunately there was more bad news for Nick Heidfeld, who was taken out after an ambitious move from Frank Montagny left him in the wall. Despite clearly having the pace in the last 2 races, Heidfeld leaves Malaysia without having scored a point. 

Many of the front runners began to switch cars around lap 18, but whilst pitting early helped some drivers, it backfired hugely from Karun Chandok, who fell down to 10th place despite challenging for the podium positions early on. Daniel Abt was the big winner during the stops; his early stop meant he was able to jump several front runners. He gambled on making the battery last to end but unfortunately fell back to 10th place in the closing laps. 

Later on, Trulli and Piquet collided at turn 1 whilst fighting for a potential podium. This then left Lucas di Grassi and Sebastien Buemi to fight it out 2nd place, with Sam Bird comfortably ahead. There was also some late drama as Bruno Senna pushed too hard and went straight into the wall at turn 9. The Brazilian had an action packed race, using his fanboost to fight back after an early incident with Matthew Brabham’s Andretti.

Whilst Sam Bird dominated, the real winner here was Formula E. After a slow start in Beijing, the street circuit in Putrajaya hosted a great race with plenty of overtaking and excitement. The drivers clearly felt more comfortable managing the battery throughout the stints, although it could be argued that this this was somewhat helped by the two safety car periods early on. The potential is clearly there though, and for a new series to deliver such a great race in just its second outing is very impressive.

If Malaysia is anything to go by, we could be in for a fantastic season.

As always, please tweet us your thoughts on the race over at @FormulaEDiary.

Anil Palmer

 

What to expect when #FormulaE returns.

After nearly a 2 month hiatus, Formula E finally returns to our TV screens, as the electric circus is welcomed to Putrajaya, Malaysia. What should we expect from this street circuit?

The Circuit

The racetrack in China had to be squeezed around a former Olympic Village and as a result the track layout was rather uninspired, with multiple straights separated by tight chicanes. The street circuit in Putrajaya is rather different, as Mahindra Racing’s Karun Chandok demonstrates:

The track clearly has much more flow than traditional street circuits, mainly due to the variety of corners it has. Whilst turns 5 and the hairpin will require good mechanical grip and low speed traction, turns 8 and 9 are clearly much quicker than anything China threw at the drivers. This is a track where the confident drivers will really be able to throw the cars into the corners whilst others will simply be trying to avoid the walls. Overtaking should also be possible, particularly into T1 and hairpin.

Weather

If you’re a fan of Formula 1, you’ll be well aware that Malaysian weather is fairly predictable; it will be hot, humid and wet, quite possible all at the same time. Weather forecasts suggest that rain is likely at one point, if not throughout the whole day, so for the first time we’ll get a true indication of what these cars can do in the rain. It’s worth remembering that the tyres used by these cars can work in both wet and dry conditions, so don’t expect multiple tyre changes!

Form Guide

The e.dams Renault team were simply unstoppable throughout testing but Nicolas Prost’s last minute move on Nick Heidfeld Venturi denied the pair of them a podium in Beijing. It would be foolish to look past either team heading into Malaysia as both teams seemed on top of the battery technology and Nick Heidfeld’s power management in Beijing was very impressive, allowing him to pull a last minute move on Prost from seemingly out of nowhere The Mahindra team will also be looking to threaten the podium, with Chandok impressing in China whilst Bruno Senna will be looking to bounce back from an incredibly disappointing opening race. Fanboost could also make a difference, although we have a feeling that Nicolas Prost won’t be receiving many votes this time round…

Have you missed Formula E? What do you want to see this weekend?

You can leave a comment below, or tweet us @formulaediary.

Anil Palmer