A beginner’s guide to Formula E – Palatinate


By Sophie Massam

What is Formula E?

Formula E is an all-electric single-seater racing series that recently gained FIA championship status, currently in its eighth season. There are eleven two-driver teams, with big names such as Mercedes, Jaguar and Porsche.

What is a Formula E race like?

E-Prix races last forty-five minutes, with no pit stops. The racing time is shorter than traditional car racing due to the energy capabilities of the cars. The shorter race time and lack of pit stops means the strategy differs from Formula 1, as preserving energy becomes as crucial as speed.

Instead of DRS (Drag Reduction System, a temporary overtaking aid introduced in Formula 1 in 2011), Formula E has the wonderfully named “Attack Mode”, which is used to deliver an additional 25kW for three minutes, allowing for more action and overtaking. Like DRS, attack mode can only be used in specific activation zones. In attack mode, visually striking blue LEDs light up on the pilots’ halos.

The races take place in the heart of cities (Monaco, Seoul, Rome, New York and London, to name a few), which means that drivers race wheel to wheel in tight street circuit conditions, surrounded by of the recognizable landscape of urban metropolises. 2021 saw Formula E’s first night race at the Diriyah Exhibition Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Car specifications

Formula E cars use all-season tires so races can take place in all conditions. The maximum power of Formula E cars is 250 kW, which is mainly used in qualifying mode. Race mode is usually lower, at around 200kW, as energy conservation is a major part of the team’s strategy. All cars have identical chassis, batteries and tires. The components that teams are allowed to develop are electric motors, inverters, gearboxes and cooling systems.

In 2020, Formula E became the first sport in the world to achieve a certified net zero carbon footprint

Race format

All elements of the E-Prix take place in one day, making Formula E easy to watch.

– Shakedown (15 minute session to check car and track conditions)

– Free practice one and two

– Qualifying – which got a new format in the current 2021-22 season, season 8. The new ‘Knock Out’ style divides drivers into two groups (A and B) based on championship standings (odd positions in the championship in group A, even in group B), who fight to set the four fastest times in each session.

The fastest four in each group then progress to the head-to-head stage, where the fastest eight then race to the quarter-finals, the fastest four to the semi-finals and the fastest two to compete for pole position in the final . This means that the starting order is determined by the lap times in the duels between drivers, as well as by the positions in the groups.

Why should you watch Formula E?

Unlike Formula 1 “its lights off and we’re off”, Formula E races start with the words “and we go green!” », words that are at the heart of the principles of sport. In 2020, Formula E became the first sport in the world to achieve a certified net-zero carbon footprint, with the goal of tackling climate change dating back to its inception in 2014.

The commitment to carbon neutrality goes beyond cars to include event sustainability. Diriyah’s night run was lit with fully sustainable lighting, using LED light clusters powered by renewable sources. Formula E has been hailed as the future of motor racing, as traditional motor racing drivers such as four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel are raising questions about the environmental impacts of their sports.

The appeal of Formula E electric racing is more than environmental. Over time, fans have seen car battery technology develop, evolve and improve the sport. Early Formula E races were criticized because battery capacity was limited to 28kWh, meaning drivers could only complete 12-17 laps (about half a race) and teams were forced to make a pit stop and finish the second half of the race in a second single. -square. Formula E, like the world of ordinary electric cars, is not a finished project, but a unique innovation laboratory.

Technological advancements and environmental considerations aside, wheel-to-wheel conditions of the street circuit and greater reliance on driver skill and strategy over speed and the best car enabled by the dimmer mode feature. attack make racing exciting, with less team dominance than seen in traditional formula racing.

In the seventh season (2020-21), eleven drivers from six different teams won the E-Prix. Formula E can be watched on Channel 4, All4, Eurosport and the Formula E website, or, if you enjoyed the behind-the-scenes nature of Netflix’s ‘Drive to Survive’, ‘Formula E: Unplugged’ can be found on the official Formula E YouTube channel.

Image: _chrisuk via Flickr


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