Formula E Season Set to Launch October 9
Formula E, the electric car segment of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), will launch its 2016-2017 October 9 in Hong Kong. The 10-turn, 2 kilometer course at the Hong Kong Central Harbourfront Circuit will host competitors from 10 teams vying for the FIA Formula E Championship.The upcoming schedule is the third since the series originated in 2014.
FIA’s venture into battery-powered electric racing machines dates back to 2012, and represents a nod to what arguably is the future of automotive technology. After two years of planning, the series held its inaugural event at the Beijing Olympic Green Circuit on September 13, 2014. The course was a 20-turn, 2.14 mile street course laid out on the grounds of the stadium built for the 2008 Olympic Games, with Brazilian Lucas Di Grassi emerging as the winner after Nick Heidfeld and Nicolas Prost wrecked on the final turn of the race.
There were 11 races in the inaugural Formula E season, with visits to ten different host cities. Two of the 11 events took place in the United States (Long Beach and Miami), while the balance of the schedule took place in these cities: Beijing, Putrajaya (Malaysia), Punta del Este (Uruguay), Buenos Aires, Monte Carlo, Berlin, Moscow and London. Generally, Formula E races take place on temporary city street courses ranging in length from 1.2 to 2.1 miles in length.
The Formula E Car
For the kick-off season, Formula E cars featured electric motors built by McLaren, powered by a battery system engineered by Williams Advanced Engineering on a Dallara chasis. The cars run on Michelin tires, using a five-speed gear box capable of reaching speeds of roughly 140 miles per hour, with an acceleration rate of 0 to 100 mph in three seconds. They’re quieter than Formula 1 cars (and certainly NASCAR machines), but still slightly noisier than the typical street car.
As experience was obtained during the first two seasons, the specifications evolved t0 the point that additional powertrain manufacturers have emerged. Teams now have a variety to choose from, and many of the teams elect to build their own powertrains. a factor that is expected to produce continued evolution of the “E-class” cars in the years ahead.
For a ground-up look at how a Formula E car works, check out this YouTube video:
The Fan Boost Concept
One of the more unique aspects of Formula E racing is FIA’s introduction of a concept called “Fan Boost” in which followers of the series have the opportunity to vote for their favorite driver to receive an additional performance boost during the event. For each event (called “E Prix” races in Formula E parlance), the three drivers getting the most fan votes are awarded a five-second temporary power boost to use at their discretion (one time only) during the race.
The intent of the “Fan Boost” innovation is to bring fans closer to the sport by enabling them to play a role in deciding the outcome of an event. It’s controversial, having been called unfair and having been said to cause drivers to resort to pandering for votes to obtain the advantage. But it’s also popular, which seems to underscore the success of what FIA is trying to accomplish in the promotion of its new racing series.
The 2016-17 Formula Season
After the October 9 Hong Kong kick-off, the 2016-17 season moves to these cities for its 10-race series:
- November 12 – Morocco
- February 18 – Argentina
- April 1 – Mexico
- May 13 – Monaco
- May 20 – France
- June 10 – Germany
- July 1 – Belgium
- July 15/16 – USA (Brooklyn)
- July 29/10 – Montreal
For a complete look at the series and some of its main backstories, visit the FIA Official Formula E Series website.