Today’s announcement that ex-F1 team Super Aguri will be fielding a Formula E team confirms ambitious plans for world domination by series promoter FEH. The Tokyo team becomes the second based in Asia, following China Racing, while the inaugural calendar has three races in that part of the world: the season-opener in Beijing, followed by Putrajaya, in Malaysia, and Hong Kong.
The trend seems to confirm our recent musings that Formula E has the US and the Far East at the top of its target list. The US also has two race dates and two teams. Europe, the traditional home of big brother F1, offers only three dates on the first-year calendar and, so far, two teams.
Super Aguri competed in Formula 1 from 2006 to 2008, led by former F1 driver Aguri Suzuki and with technical facilities in the UK. It was very closely linked to Honda, which throws up the intriguing possibility that the major manufacturer may be eyeing up a constructor’s position in the 2014-15 season (the company is returning to F1 in 2015 too, attracted by smaller internal combustion engines bolstered by advanced energy recovery systems that would play well into the development of a Formula E powertrain).
It’s not just the racing kudos. Formula E is designed to draw an explicit link from race car to road car. That is already happening, albeit in reverse: the electric motors for the first-year spec car are adapted from McLaren’s P1 supercar, and the Michelin all-weather treaded tyres on Oz 18” wheels look like they’re straight from Halfords. With a large EV range to sell worldwide, that’s why Renault is involved.
Current E was concerned that Formula E might be emulating its older siblings a little too closely in shutting out diversity of entrants by confining personnel to mostly Brits and Europeans. This move reveals a different intent altogether. In fact, by bringing together entrants from China, Japan, the US, UK and France, it’s more like a United Nations on the race track. Next stop, world peace (and quiet…).
We’re not entirely won over by the acronym being bandied about however – the Super Aguri Formula E team becomes SAFE. Twee?