The words high-speed and electrical energy don’t find themselves in the same sentence that often. But, not only has Formula E been able to do that, it’s also made some race analysts rethink their views on the place electricity holds in the future of motorsports.
Formula E is a single make FIA single-seater championship racing series that exclusively uses electric powered vehicles. The series began its debut run in Beijing last year and races have since been held in city-centric circuits like Miami, Berlin, and London to appeal to a new generation of motorsports fans. But, how can watching a race full of electric cars—which aren’t known for torque or velocity—be exciting on any level compared to other FIA sports?
The reputation smart cars have regarding their speed may have been earned by previous generations of the technology, but they have moved on from that point. They have become respectable in the acceleration department. The machines involved in Formula E have a top speed of a hundred and thirty five miles per hour; sustaining this maximum output consumes two hundred kilowatts, generating two hundred and seventy battery horsepower.
The races have a few quirks that can work either to its advantage or downfall, the first of which is that each team needs to use two cars in order to complete a race. The drain on the batteries is too much for any single vehicle to take, and drivers have to use a pit stop in the middle of the race to switch into a second car with a fully charged battery. Formula E organizers hope that competitive development will be enough to spur researchers and engineers to push the technology to the point wherein only one car is necessary.
There is more to Formula E than the novelty of seeing electric cars used in a competitive environment, as there’s plenty of talent and pedigree on the track. Former F1 drivers lend their talents to this new form of racing and are creating their fame to build a fan base around Formula E. These drivers include Stephane Sazzarin, Loic Duvan, Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Bruno Senna, Jean-Eric Vergne, Jarno Trulli, and Nick Heidfeld.
The series centers on the values of Energy, Environment, and Entertainment, which take all the traditional elements of racing like science and design to the next level. Formula E is one of the possible routes the future of racing can take, and only time will tell if anything will come out of it.