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Beginner’s Guide To Formula E

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Formula E has arrived

Formula E kicks off its debut season on the streets of Beijing next weekend. Here at Creditplus we are extremely excited, and cannot wait to see how this whole thing pans out. Formula E has the potential to be the start of something wonderful! So the fact that there is very little media coverage, especially when compared to its bigger noisier brother Formula 1, is disappointing. This is not helped by skeptics and critics who judge before they have done their research. Formula E is such a revolutionary movement in motor sport and it should be celebrated as such. It will be the first ever fully electric racing series, so there is a vast amount to be excited about. So we thought we would bring you a beginner’s guide to this new class of motorsport.

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Specifications

The first port of call for a lot of racing enthusiasts are the specifications of the vehicles  and these Formula E cars certainly have some interesting specs. The most interesting and revolutionary aspect of the cars is the power unit and the kind of performance that will be achieved from it. McLaren will be providing the 700w electric motor or “motor generator unit” (MGU) which will provide 200kw which is equivalent to 270bhp.

That high power option will only be available in the warm up and qualifying sessions. When it is time to race they enter Race Mode, which saves power oddly enough. This is so that the drivers can stay out on track longer as all their energy is stored in batteries. No fuel means no way of recharging mid-race. Race Mode will allow 150kw which is equivalent to 202.5bhp; although they will be able to use ‘FanBoost’ to temporarily boost their power output to 180kw/242bhp for up to 5 seconds per car, which works much like the Formula 1 Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS).

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While you may be somewhat underwhelmed by the horsepower of these vehicles, you should wait until you see how these cars apply that power until you pass judgement. These cars will get from 0-62mph in less than 3.0 seconds which is absolutely incredible from an engine that size and will go up to 140mph which is the top speed they are limited to. To put that into perspective, a Formula 1 car that has around 750bhp will do 0-62 in 2.5 seconds. 480bhp used to achieve a 0.5 second reduction in 0-62 speed. The Formula E cars benefit from an electric motors ability to apply almost instant acceleration and torque through those huge grippy tyres.

One added benefit of all this electric motor technology being used is that the discoveries and progress made in Formula E are without a doubt going to be passed on to us, the general public, in the form of fantastic new battery and electric motor technologies!

Series Details

The Formula E series will start out as a ‘spec’ series, where all the teams have the exact same cars, with just some adjustments to chassis (alignment, spring rates, ride height, and damping) and some small aerodynamic changes allowed. All the drivers be on a level playing field, which should promote driver skill over everything else. This is one of the other things we really like about this series; these cars are new for pretty much everyone involved meaning drivers will be learning whilst racing. Hopefully this will lead to some very exciting races and displays of driving skill that we may not have seen before in Formula One, where the different manufacturers have different engines.

The race will not be spread out over three days like Formula 1, it will be a single days racing made up of a one-hour practice sessions, then a four lap qualifying session followed by an hour long main race. Each driver will pilot two cars per race. Yes that’s right, they will have to physically jump out of one car and into another! This could result in some fairly entertaining television.

Infographic

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Location

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One of our favourite things about this series is that it will be raced on the streets! Not just any streets either, they will be raced on the roads of some of the most iconic cities in the world, including London and Monte Carlo.

  • Beijing (China)
  • Putrajaya (Malaysia)
  • Punta Del Este (Uruguay)
  • Buenos Aires (Argentina)
  • TBA
  • Miami (USA)
  • Los Angeles (USA)
  • Monte Carlo (Monaco)
  • Berlin (Germany)
  • London (UK)

This is one of the reasons for the short race duration, to avoid closing down roads in busy cities for too long. Also because the top speed is limited to 140mph you can expect a selection of some very tight and twisty streets with short straights.

Drivers and Teams

Twenty drivers from 10 teams will compete in the 2014/2015 FIA Formula E Championship. Two reserve drivers may also be entered per team. When it comes to the second season, it will become an open championship allowing teams to design and develop their own cars and showcase their electrical energy innovations in a competitive, racing environment.

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For Formula 1 fans there will be some familiar faces in the Formula E line up. Nick Heidfield, Jaime Alguesari, Sebastien Buemi and Jarno Trulli all used to be Formula 1 racers so you can expect to see some skill out there on the track from day one. Bruno Senna and Nelson Piquet add a bit of history to the whole affair. Not only are they both ex Formula 1 drivers, they are both sons of iconic racing drivers – Aytron Senna and Nelson Piquet Snr. One very significant difference to Formula 1 is the inclusion of two female drivers in Formula E. Italian Michela Cerruti and Brit Katherine Legge both have experience racing across other classes. This will be the first time any woman has raced under the Formula series, so to see two involved is surely a progressive and positive step forward. All eyes will be on them, especially as every driver will be in the exact same spec of car. There is also quite a significant celebrity involved in this racing scene. Oscar nominated actor and vocal green energy advocate Leonardo DiCaprio co-founded team Venturi, and will be making an appearance at several of the races.

The Noise

This is one of the biggest issues that Formula 1 purists have with Formula E.  Due to the electric engine not having to explode any fuel, it is extremely quiet compared to the F1 cars. In fact it is no louder than a London bus (which is about 80db). Compare that to 120db of a Formula 1 car and it is very quiet. Well here at Creditplus we say “pish, posh nay sayers”, noise is simply wasted energy that is not being converted into forward motion and actually we quite like the way they just ‘whir’ around the track.

Check out this video below which compares the noise of a Formula 1 car, first in the video, to a Formula E car, the second part of the video.

Verdict

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We think Formula E is the natural progression for racing. Now, we aren’t saying that we should just stop racing petrol cars because we love that too, but Formula E and electric racing should be given a real chance.

For more information on Formula E, visit the official website.

More motorsport at the Creditplus blog:

Have you seen our latest racing roundup? News and headlines from the weekend’s motorsport. Click here to read.

Formula One have hired their youngest ever F1 driver. Find out more about 16 year old Max Verstappen here.

He may be the grumpiest driver in Kimi Raikkonen, but his dry wit means fans love him. Here are some of his best quotes.

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