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Electric Cars Come To Motorsport With Formula E

Electric cars have many benefits. They have zero tailpipe emissions and therefore attract a generous £5,000 grant and zero road tax. They are also quiet and have the potential to be a long-term sustainable alternative to cars powered by fossil fuels. What they have not been, so far, is fun, but the new Formula E series may be about to change all of that.

Electric cars have many benefits. They have zero tailpipe emissions and therefore attract a generous £5,000 grant and zero road tax. They are also quiet and have the potential to be a long-term sustainable alternative to cars powered by fossil fuels. What they have not been, so far, is fun, but the new Formula E series may be about to change all of that. 
 
Formula E is the brand new single-seater racing car championship endorsed by the FIA. It is also the first ever fully electric international racing car series. It starts on September 13 in Beijing and the series will then take in 10 cities across the globe, where ten teams of two drivers will compete for the Formula E championship. The series will take in cities like Miami, Buenos Aires and London; as well as famous Formula One destination, Monte Carlo. Each race will take place on a city centre street circuit, in a bid to maximise excitement and reflect the natural home of electric cars. Organisers say that Formula E represents the future of motorsport and will attract a whole new generation of fans. 
 
Those fans will include some for whom the F1 championship is unacceptable in environmental terms. For those fans, F1’s contribution to CO2 emissions is just too great and the huge sums required to compete are out of step with today’s desire for a more sustainable world. In contrast, Formula E cars feature zero tailpipe emissions and even the electricity used to charge the cars is generated from sustainable sources. The cars are also quieter, generating just 80 decibels instead of F1’s 130. This allows the races to feature an exciting soundtrack, with special music to accompany race events like the start, finish, overtaking and even crashes. The tight city centre street circuits are designed to bring the spectators as close as possible to the action and make up for the slower speeds and reduced noise by building excitement and tension.
 
There will also be other innovations, such as having female drivers and a unique scheme whereby drivers of cars with the most social media votes will receive power boosts to help them overtake the competition. The first year of the series will see all ten teams using the same car. This is the result of a collaboration between McLaren, Renault, Spark and Williams. In future years the teams will be allowed to make improvements to their car but these will be limited to areas relevant to road cars, such as drive train and battery. This is intended to help drive improvements in these areas, rather than in less relevant areas such as aerodynamics. F1 teams spend many millions on such developments and ignoring these will help slash the cost of running a competitive Formula E team. This cost is now likely to be in the region of £3 million, a fraction of the £200 million it takes to run an F1 team. Again, this is sure to appeal to those looking for a more sustainable motorsport. 
 
According to Virign Racing team driver, Sam Bird, winning a Formula E race will be a very strategic matter, involving managing the car’s battery most effectively. This could lead to development of a whole new raft of racing strategies. The cars will not be recharged as the battery depletes but the driver will instead swap cars midway through the race, leading to an exciting jump from one car to another.
 
The Formula E championship is attracting some serious competitors, with teams from Audi and Renault as well as Virgin Racing and major teams from India and China. F1 legends including Alain Prost, Emerson Fittipaldi and Sir Frank Williams are backing the championship, which is being funded by celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio. It is focused on three core values, including entertainment, environment and energy and will be a fusion of design, engineering, music, technology and sport. The championship also has a serious side and is designed to advance the development of electric car technologies and boost sales of street cars, which have so far been disappointing.

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