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All-electric Formula E racing series confirmed
With more of a zap than a roar, a new Formula E all-electric racing series is go – and heading for city centres worldwide.
With commercial agreements now in place, motorsport’s governing body the FIA expects the new venture to be up and running in 2014, following demonstrations in 2013.
The races are set to involve ten teams fielding a total of twenty drivers, with the FIA hoping to attract competitors from the current crop of Formula 1 squads, electric carmakers and other global brands.
To get things off to a speedy start, the 2014 series will feature an evolution of a prototype already under development by French electric car manufacturer Formulec (pictured above).
With lithium ion batteries powering an electric motor via a two-speed gearbox, the Formula E racer is expected to weigh in at 780kg and be capable of 0-62mph in just 3.0 seconds. Top speed will be around 137mph.
That’s nothing compared to F1 – where 750hp from a 2.4-litre V8 propelling just 640kg means 0-62mph in 1.7 seconds and top speeds approaching 200mph – but Formula E will have some potentially interesting twists.
For starters, although each race will last an hour, the battery packs are only said to carry enough charge for 25 minutes of flat out competition. As a result each driver will be allowed to swap into a second car once the first one has run out.
A unique feature of this series; do the maths, however, and you’ll see there’s still some strategizing to be done…
Secondly, the FIA is aiming to schedule the racing in places it has simply never been possible before – which is to say in city centres, ideally in the vicinity of famous landmarks.
With zero emissions in motion and no screaming engine noise, environmentalists and noise-sensitive residents will have little reason to protest. Rio de Janeiro in Brazil is the first city to sign up.
The big hope in all this is that by showing all-electric cars competing in motorsport people will be encouraged to accept them as a viable form of everyday transport as well.
While arguments about the importance of engine noise to racing as a spectacle are unlikely to disappear overnight, the aim is to capture the imagination of a more open minded younger generation, rather than to appease more traditional race fans.
Spanish real estate mogul Enrique Banuelos heads the Formula E Holdings consortium that will run the series out of a base in Hong Kong. Chief Executive is Alejandro Agag, a former member of the European Parliament with an investment firm currently involved in GP2 and GP3 racing teams.
Technical guidance will come from former British government minister Lord Paul Drayson. His company Drayson Racing Technologies has spent the last two years developing an electric racing car – the 850hp Lola-Drayson B12/69EV.
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