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Formula E Review – Beijing

Formula E BeijingThe inaugural race of Formula E got under way on Saturday 13th September. The first fully electric racing series is officially homologated by the FIA and is the most definitive step towards greener motorsport since Formula-1 was hybridised.

Locations

The ten-race series runs across the UK winter season, starting in Beijing. It ends in London on 27th June 2015. The objective is to bring more awareness of electric vehicles to the heart of cities across the globe, including Buenos Aires, Miami and Berlin. Earlier this year, Rio De Janiero was dropped from the racing calendar. Alejandro Agag, Formula E CEO, confirmed in Beijing that a nine-city season would be acceptable, though rumours continue to circulate, suggesting Mexico City will take the Valentine’s Day race slot. Agag has suggested one city would double for two races over the weekend, to reach the ten-race total.

Cars

The SRT-01e stock chassis serves all twenty drivers for the first season. Sporting a 200kg battery and 200kW electric motor, which powers the rear wheels, drivers are limited to 185kW unless using push-to-pass. The battery power is limited to around 20 minutes and cannot be charged during the race, meaning drivers have two cars to complete the race.

Sustainability

There have been criticisms about the cars being charged from non-sustainable sources. In response, Formula E Holdings has invested in two Aquafuel generators, which run on an almost-carbon-free glycerine substance; a waste product of biodiesel production. Organisers intend to ship the generators to alternating dates to ensure the cars on the grid are always as ‘green’ as possible, regardless of locally available electricity sources; and to ensure that the races can get underway, mitigating against black-out situations.

Teams, Drivers and Results

Driver no. Driver Team Points Comments
1 11 Lucasdi Grassi (Portuguese) Audi Sport ABT(German) 25 Favourite to win after strong results in testing. Came up from third to take win after Prost and Heidfeld collided. Commented that Heidfeld’s lack of injury was testament to the safety of the cars. Received Fanboost Push-to-Pass advantage but chose not to use it.
2 27 Franck Montagny(French) Andretti(American) 18 Given grid penalty after a pit lane infringement and started eighth. Capitalised on Prost/Heidfeld accident, showing some incredible overtaking during race to finish second
3 2 Sam Bird(British) Virgin Racing(British) 15 Finished fourth, promoted to third after Abt penalised for ignoring drivethrough penalty.
4 28 Charles Pic(French) Andretti(American) 12 Late addition to Andretti team after Mike Conway was dropped. Almost collided with team mate at first corner and eventually finished fifth, moving up after Abt demotion.
5 5 Karun Chandhok(Indian) Mahindra Racing(Indian) 10 Fought hard with plenty of overtaking to finish fifth.
6 7 Jerome d’Ambrosio(Belgian) Dragon Racing(American) 8 Finished sixth after qualifying thirteenth.
7 6 Oriol Servia(Spanish) Dragon Racing(American) 6 Gained six points after finishing seventh.
8 99 Nelson Piquet(Brazilian) China Racing(Chinese) 4 Qualified tenth and finished eighth after some entertaining tussles.
9 8 Nicolas Prost(French) e.dams-Renault (French) 3 Strong in testing, practice and qualified on pole for three points. Failed to finish after colliding with Venturi’s Nick Heidfeld. Handed 10 place grid penalty for next race for causing an “avoidable accident.”
10 30 Stéphane Sarrazin(French) Venturi(Monagasque) 2 Received initial grid penalty after qualifying for changing gearbox. First to pit, along with Alguesuari. Eventually finished ninth.
11 55 Takuma Sato(Japanese) Amlin Aguri(Aus/Japanese) 2 One-off appearance for Amlin Aguri, covering Antonio Felix da Costa. Fastest lap with 1:45:101 earned him two points despite having not completed the race.
12 66 Daniel Abt(German) Audi Sport ABT(German) 1 Finished third after consistent drive. Performed well in testing and looks strong for season, but penalised for failing to accept dricethrough penalty during the race.
13 3 Jaime Alguesuari(Spanish) Virgin Racing(British) 0 One of the first to pit, Alguesuari finished eleventh after receiving 57s penalty for exceeding 28kWh battery consumption
14 23 Nick Heidfeld(German) Venturi(Monagasque) 0 Climbed the grid to battle Prost for top podium position. On the final lap, Prost moved to defend, hitting Heidfeld in a dramatic crash that sent the Venturi racer flying into the air off a sausage kerb. Heidfeld escaped unscathed and shows promise for energy management in forthcoming races.
15 18 Michaela Cerruti(Italian) Trulli(Swiss) 0 After receiving a grid penalty for changing her gearbox, Cerruti eventually finished fourteenth.
16 77 Katherine Legge(British) Amlin Aguri(Aus/Japanese) 0 Finished fifteenth but was handed a 57s penalty for exceeding 28kWh battery consumption. Legge was one of the three to receive the highly controversial Fanboost Push-to-Pass.
17 88 Ho-Ping Tung China Racing(Chinese) 0 Started from pits after qualifying fifteenth. Headed out late to join the race. China Racing was late to announce its drivers, doing so post-testing.
18 9 Sébastien Buemi (Swiss) e.dams-Renault (French) 0 Showed plenty of promise in testing, but was hampered by technical issues. During the race, he lost rear body work which led to an eventual retirement. Engineers did repair the car to allow Buemi to try and secure two points for fastest lap but he was pipped by Sato.
19 10 Jarno Trulli (Italian) Trulli(Swiss) 0 Trulli failed to make it off the start line after enduring electronics issues which forced retirement on this first race. He joined Buemi, Cerruti, Tung and Sarrazin in requiring gearbox changes, for which all were penalised. These tight street circuits are unforgiving
20 21 Bruno Senna (Argentinian) Mahindra Racing(Indian) 0 Senna had looked strong in practice but broke his suspension after being squeezed by the two Amlin Aguri drivers on the opening lap. The Brazilian’s Mahindra brought out the BMW i8 safety car in what was judged a relatively slow clean-up operation by the Chinese.

The next Formula E race takes place in Putrajaya, Malaysia on 22nd November 2014. ITV4 will be showing live coverage and highlights.

Cat Dow

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