How Formula E is shaping up

Announcements are arriving thick and fast about the debut season of Formula E. As the concept sketches take on solid lines, detail and colour, here are the essentials so far:

The car

  • All-electric, single-seat, open-wheel. Cockpits may be open or enclosed.
  • Manufacturers may build their own cars to specified guidelines, just as in other ‘formula’ categories.
  • For the first season, the championship will develop a common ‘customer’ car to ease development burdens on prospective teams.
  • The cars will be supplied by new company Spark Racing Technology: 42 have been ordered for the first season.
  • McLaren will provide motors, transmissions and electronics control units, and will lead electronics integration.
  • Chassis will be developed and built by Dallara.
  • Renault is part of the design and development team.
  • Prototype specification: 180KV power – roughly equivalent to 240bhp; 800V; 780kg weight; lithium ion batteries with 90 minute charge time; two gears; 0-100kph in three seconds; top speed 250kph.
  • Tyres will be supplied by Michelin.
  • Development direction is intended to spotlight powertrain and charging technology, rather than aerodynamics.

The races

  • Races, called ‘e-Prix’, will take place as street circuits in 10 city centres.
  • Nine host venues have been announced so far: London, Rome, Los Angeles, Miami, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Beijing, Purtajaya and Bangkok.
  • The 2014/15 race calendar will be the reverse of Formula 1, beginning in September and reaching the championship finale in June.
  • All race activity, from practice to qualifying to the race itself, will take place on the same day to minimise disruption to cities and provide the best ‘bang for buck’ for spectators.

The teams

  • The grid will be formed of 10 teams, each with two drivers and four cars.
  • Each driver will use two cars, as current battery technology is expected to support just 20 minutes of racing.
  • Each race will require two pit stops. Pit stops will involve the driver swapping cars, with the drained car being charged for the next stint.
  • Battery swaps, instead of changing the entire car, have been ruled out initially due to safety concerns.
  • Two teams have been confirmed to date: Drayson Racing and China Racing.

The people

  • Alejandro Agag is chief executive of promoter Formula E Holdings. He’s intimately involved in motor racing, having forged significant TV and sponsorship deals for F1 and as owner of a GP2 race team. He was also co-owner of Queen’s Park Rangers football club.
  • Lucas di Grassi, test driver for F1 tyre supplier Pirelli from 2011 and former F1 racer, has been engaged as test driver.
  • MediaCom is charged with delivering sponsors to the sport, and nurturing brands through the debut series. It is part of the giant communications group WPP. Clients include VW, Shell – and Pelé.
  • MP & Silva is designing the media and broadcast strategy, focused on TV  coverage. The company works with international big hitters such as Sky, ESPN and ITV.
  • Frederic Vasseur, who leads Spark Racing Technology, also heads up ART Grand Prix with Nicholas Todt, son of FIA president Jean Todt. The team competes in GP2 and GP3 and has delivered top F1 drivers such as  Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Paul di Resta and Romain Grosjean.
  • Paul Drayson, English Lord, politician and former UK Minister for Science and Innovation, heads up the Formula E racing team that bears his name and its sister company, Drayson Racing Technologies. The latter was scientific advisor to the series, but stepped down to enter a racing team.
  • Bluebird, iconic British racing team, is interested in joining the series, although project manager Martin Rees is more keen on developing a bespoke vehicle than using one supplied.

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