History was made this weekend as the world’s first ever fully-electric single-seater race took place in Beijing, marking the successful season opener of the FIA Formula E
Championship. The race – Beijing Evergrande Spring ePrix – was held on a spectacular temporary race track built around the city’s iconic Olympic ‘Bird’s Nest’ Stadium and was won by Audi Sport Abt’s Lucas di Grassi.
Some 40 million are believed to have watched the race worldwide on television with 75,000 attending on site and one billion social interactions recorded around the race.
Brazilian di Grassi stole victory after race-leader Nicolas Prost (e.dams-Renault) and Venturi’s Nick Heidfeld touched on the final corner of the final lap in the battle for the lead, sending Heidfeld into a spectacular crash which he walked away from unharmed.
Andretti driver Franck Montagny finished runner-up nearly three seconds adrift of di Grassi with team-mate Daniel Abt crossing the line third, only to later have it taken away from him after failing short of the required 28kw power consumption usage. Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird was eventually promoted to claim the final place on the podium. Lucas di Grassi said: “Firstly, I’m happy Nick [Heidfeld] is ok and it shows how safe these cars are. I didn’t see what happened myself. The win is like a dream come true. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. The team did a great job all through practice and qualifying, yes we made a few mistakes but overall I’m extremely happy to be the first ever winner of a Formula E race.”
Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E said: “Two years ago the FIA had a vision of creating a championship which has close racing, entertainment and sustainability at its heart. This weekend, that vision became a reality. To see 20 fully-electric cars racing towards the first corner was a very special moment for me and for everyone involved. We truly believe this weekend marks a new era of motorsport that embraces sustainable mobility and we are incredibly grateful to all our investors, teams, drivers, partners, event operators, personnel, and of course the FIA, for helping us make this such a success. Of course, I’d also like to congratulate Lucas di Grassi on being the first Formula E winner.” He added: “What is more important to us is that Formula E is the biggest digital race in the world with real racing. We’re proud to announce that during this ePrix we’ve had a live worldwide television audience of 40 million, 75,000 people on site and more than one billion social interactions.”
Formula E is the FIA’s new fully-electric single-seater championship designed to appeal to a new generation of motorsport fans. Competing entirely on city-centre circuits all over the world, it uses cars capable of speeds in excess of 150mph (225kph). Its 10 teams feature some of the leading international names in motorsport including Alain Prost and Michael Andretti, along with high-profile environmental supporters including Sir Richard Branson. Meanwhile, it’s driver-line up boasts an array of former Formula One stars such as Jarno Trulli, Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastien Buemi, Lucas di Grassi and Bruno Senna – nephew of the great Aryton. Organisers hope the new series will also help increase the interest in electric vehicles and promote sustainability, as well as accelerate the technology available which, over time, will filter into the road-going electric vehicle market.
Round two of the new Formula E series takes place in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on November 22 2014.
Source: FIA Formula E
Photo: FIA Formula E / LAT
Williams Advanced Engineering is the official battery supplier for the inaugural season of Formula E, the world’s first fully electric racing series. Managing Director Craig Wilson introduces the technology, its development history from Formula One, and the company’s pedigree in energy efficient performance technologies.
Q: What sort of experience made Williams Advanced Engineering the chosen company to design and manufacture the Formula E batteries?
CW: Williams has a history of developing various forms of energy storage technology that dates back to the introduction of KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) into Formula One in 2009. Williams was one of the only teams to design and manufacture a complete KERS unit entirely in-house, and we developed both battery and flywheel based variants. Not only did we race our KERS system in Formula One for three seasons, but through the establishment of Williams Advanced Engineering we started developing new variants for commercial use. To date our technology has been used in Le Mans winning racing cars, a hybrid supercar with Jaguar, and buses to name a few. The Formula E battery has taken the learning from our previous projects and scaled up the batteries to create one of the most sophisticated ever made.
Q: What are the technical highlights of the battery?
CW: We have designed the battery to meet specific technical specifications mandated by the FIA and Spark Racing Technologies. Fundamental requirements were a 200kg cell weight limit, a 1000V maximum allowed bus voltage, a 200kW peak power limit and maximum usable energy of 28kWh.
We have had to produce a component that is 100 per cent consistent from one team to the next, with each battery lasting for an entire season with no loss of power or performance. We therefore designed a battery with some excess stored energy levels that stayed within the FIA regulations. The series aims to showcase the evolution of battery technology over the next few years and these technical specifications provide a starting point from which to build on.
Q: What have been the key technical challenges?
CW: The chassis had already been designed when Williams Advanced Engineering joined the programme, so we had a strictly defined dimension or “box” that we had to fit the battery into. This created a challenge for packaging and installation that needed to be overcome from the start. The next challenge was in ensuring that the battery received sufficient cooling. Thermal management is at the core of the design because temperature defines the performance parameters in almost all racing cars and our battery is no different.
Q: How long did Williams Advanced Engineering have to design and manufacture these batteries?
CW: The timescales have been very aggressive. We joined the project in June 2013, so have had a little over 12 months to design and build batteries for the 40 cars that will race, along with a number of spares. This has been challenging, but as a Formula One bred organisation we are more than used to dealing with truncated development timescales. We had a working prototype in six months, and started full manufacture of the batteries in March this year. We were approached because Williams Advanced Engineering was considered agile and experienced enough to design such a sophisticated battery in time for the start of the race series.
Q: What kind of safety features have been considered?
CW: Safety has been a core consideration from the very beginning. The battery is a structural element of the car and has to withstand the rigours of close street racing. The battery has become the first to complete FIA crash testing and has also met UN regulation 38.3 for the safe air transportation of lithium ion batteries – crucial given the global nature of the series.
Q: What support will Williams personnel supply at the race track?
CW: We will have a number of personnel at the races this season whose job is to work with the teams to ensure the proper operation of the batteries and provide support should any technical issues arise.
Q: What role can motorsport play as a proving ground for the next generation of electric vehicle technology?
CW: Motorsport has always been a fantastic way of validating the next generation of technology. It is about pushing the boundaries of what we currently have in a bid to gain a competitive advantage. Take Formula One – this year’s power units are highly innovative and that technology will be filtered down into road cars in the future.
Formula E is no different. These batteries are very unique and they will be tested to the absolute limits by teams in a harsh environment. The same goes for the other elements that make up the electric powertrain. We can use Formula E as a means of improving storage density – having more energy within the same weight – charging times and life span and this learning will trickle down into regular electric vehicles.
Source: Williams Advanced Engineering
Photo: Media FIA Formula E
Formula E has completed two full event simulations as the world’s first all-electric single-seater championship gears up for its first race in Beijing on September 13.
Both events took place at Leicestershire’s Donington Park, where a temporary pitlane and pitboxes were assembled to mimic those that will be in place at the street circuits the series will visit.
Accreditation procedures, operational and IT infrastructures and even television broadcasts were also meticulously tested.
During the second simulation, for the first time the 10 teams ran all four of their cars as the two non-qualifying sessions, qualifying and an endurance test were completed to the schedule that will take place at the races.
This meant that all of the teams and drivers had the opportunity to simulate the unique car change pitstops – and at the second simulation – a full standing start.
While a number of issues were encountered, which was the reason for running the simulation, overall the events were considered to be a success.
Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E, said: “Putting on a major sporting event in the heart of cities around the world is a massive undertaking and requires careful preparation. We want the Formula E Beijing ePrix to a fantastic spectacle, which is why we’re leaving nothing to chance by rigorously testing all the systems beforehand. Overall we’re very pleased with how things went.”
Organisers have also revealed the raceday timetable for each Formula E event, which takes place all in one day. The 10 teams and 20 drivers will have two non-qualifying sessions in the morning – lasting 45 minutes and 30 minutes – followed by a qualifying session split into four groups of five cars with the order selected at random beforehand. The race itself will last approximately 60 minutes with the race distance (exact number of laps) determined on the day.
Source: FIA Formula E
E.dams-Renault’s Sebastien Buemi set the fastest time of pre-season testing at Donington Park with a lap of 1:31.083 to finish two-tenths clear at the top of the leaderboard.
The 25-year-old beat the previous best time set by Audi Sport ABT driver Lucas di Grassi to finish quickest for the second day in a row.
Buemi, who has now topped three of the four pre-season test sessions, said: “Today has been a very good day. This morning we concentrated on race pace working on putting in lots of laps and finding the best balance with the temperatures of the tyres and battery. We continued to focus on race pace in the afternoon, as well as qualifying runs. Credit again has to go to the team for giving me such a good car and the confidence to push and we’ll now see how we can improve for the next one.”
With few reliability problems, all 10 teams racked up the mileage with a combined total of 840 laps for the day.
Di Grassi initially lowered the benchmark clocking a 1:31:282 in the morning session. The Brazilian, who topped the timesheets on day two, has looked strong throughout testing and commented: “We are making good progress every test and every time I get in the car. We understand the car a little better but it’s difficult to do a lot of representative work in Donington compared to some of the circuits we will race on throughout the season. The most important thing is to learn about the battery, the motor and tyre pressures but not necessarily fine tuning set-up at this track.”
Ex-Formula 1 and GP2 driver Jerome d’Ambrosio ended the day third for China Racing while Scott Speed, testing for Andretti Autosport, was a place further back in fourth.
FIA Formula E Championship
Day 4, Donington Park – Test Results (Combined Times):
1. Sebastien Buemi, e.dams-Renault, 1:31.083s
2. Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT, 1:31.282s
3. Jerome d’Ambrosio, China Racing, 1:31.651s
4. Scott Speed, Andretti Autosport, 1:31.810s
5. Sam Bird, Virgin Racing, 1:31.895s
6. Daniel Abt, Audi Sport ABT, 1:32.080s
7. Nicolas Prost, e.dams-Renault, 1:32.124s
8. Nick Heidfeld, Venturi, 1:32.126s
9. Jarno Trulli, Trulli, 1:32.479s
10. Bruno Senna, Mahindra Racing, 1:32.506s
11. Franck Montagny, Andretti Autosport, 1:32.512s
12. Jaime Alguersuari, Virgin Racing, 1:32.583s
13. Karun Chandhok, Mahindra Racing, 1:33.019s
14. Oriol Servia, Dragon Racing, 1:33.083s
15. Juan Manuel Lopez, China Racing, 1:33.425s
16. Michela Cerruti, Trulli, 1:33.544s
17. Mike Conway, Dragon Racing, 1:33.692s
18. Katherine Legge, Amlin Aguri, 1:33.778s
19. Fabio Leimer, Amlin Aguri, 1:38.988s
Photo: FIA Formula E
Source: FIA Formula E
Audi Sport Abt’s Lucas di Grassi led the way in the second official test for the all-electric FIA Formula E Championship at Donington Park, setting his best time in the afternoon session to pip yesterday’s pace-setter Sebastien Buemi (e.dams-Renault).
Belgian racer Jerome d’Ambrosio, testing for China Racing, topped the morning timesheets with a 1:34.554s and already up on Buemi’s best time from day one. Times then began to tumble partway through the afternoon stint when the temporary chicane on the exit to the Old hairpin was removed after a number of drivers made contact with it.
That paved the way for di Grassi, testing with two cars due to an absent Daniel Abt on GP2 duties, to lay down a benchmark in the 1:31s which was never bettered. “It was my first time driving the car with full power and I’m really pleased with the performance,” said di Grassi. “With Daniel [Abt] at Silverstone for GP2, I had the use of two cars so was able to do a lot of work in race mode. We had very little problems and I was very pleased with the way the Abt team worked, and I’m looking forward to getting in the car next week.”
FIA Formula E Championship
Day 2, Donington Park – Test Results (Combined Times):
1. Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport Abt, 1:31.973s
2. Sebastien Buemi, e.dams-Renault, 1:32.089s
3. Nick Heidfeld, Venturi, 1:32.373s
4. Scott Speed, Andretti Autosport, 1:32.632s
5. Bruno Senna, Mahindra Racing, 1:32.960s
6. Antonio Garcia, China Racing, 1:32.966s
7. Nicolas Prost, e.dams-Renault, 1:33.040s
8. Sam Bird, Virgin Racing, 1:33.072s
9. Jerome d’Ambrosio, China Racing, 1:33.178s
10. Jarno Trulli, Trulli, 1:33.299s
11. Franck Montagny, Andretti Autosport, 1:33.754s
12. Fabio Leimer, Amlin Aguri, 1:33.792s
13. Stephane Sarrazin, Venturi, 1:34.006s
14. Katherine Legge, Amlin Aguri, 1:34.071s
15. Michela Cerruti, Trulli, 1:36.064s
16. Jaime Alguersuari, Virgin Racing, 1:36.962s
17. Karun Chandhok, Mahindra Racing, 1:37.415s
18. Oriol Servia, Dragon Racing, 1:43.239s
19. Mike Conway, Dragon Racing, 1:44.698s
Photo: LAT Photographic / FIA Formula E
E.dams-Renault’s Sebastien Buemi set the fastest time at the end of the first day of official Formula E testing at Donington Park.
In dry, bright conditions, the Swiss racer posted a 1:35.475s with under an hour to go in the afternoon session, holding on to the top spot until the end of the day.
Speaking afterwards Buemi said: “I’m more than happy to be honest. I didn’t have any problems with the car at all and that meant we were able to learn quite a lot about it. It’s always nice to be P1 so let’s hope it continues tomorrow.”
The first of five public tests saw all 10 teams and drivers use the full Donington Park GP circuit, modified to include an additional chicane at the exit to the Old Hairpin.
Lucas di Grassi driving for Audi Sport ABT finished over half a second shy of Buemi despite only running during the afternoon session, replacing team-mate Daniel Abt who left for GP2 duties mid-way through the day. Briton’s Sam Bird (Virgin Racing) was a further three-tenths back in third with Mahindra’s Bruno Senna in fourth.
FIA Formula E Championship-
Day 1, Donington Park- Test Results
1. Sebastien Buemi, e.dams-Renault, 1:35.475
2. Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT, +0.537
3. Sam Bird, Virgin Racing, +0.895
4. Bruno Senna, Mahindra Racing, +0.910
5. Stephane Sarrazin, Venturi, +1.223
6. Nicolas Prost, e.dams-Renault, +1.232
7. Jarno Trulli, Trulli, +1.494
8. Daniel Abt, Audi Sport ABT, +1.737
9. Jaime Alguersuari, Virgin Racing, +1.970
10. Karun Chandhok, Mahindra Racing, +2.057
11. Franck Montagny, Andretti Autosport, +2.587
12. Antonio Felix da Costa, Amlin Aguri, +2.604
13. Jerome d’Ambrosio, China Racing, +2.611
14. Antonio Garcia, China Racing, +2.729
15. Nick Heidfeld, Venturi, +5.269
16. Mike Conway, Dragon Racing, +5.693
17. Gil de Ferran, Andretti Autosport, +9.497
18. Scott Speed, Andretti Autosport, +10.434
19. Katherine Legge, Amlin Aguri, +12.821
20. Michela Cerruti, Trulli, No time set
Source: Formula E
Photo: Media Formula E
Italian driver Michela Cerruti was confirmed that she will partner Grand Prix race-winner Jarno Trulli for his own TrulliGP team, becoming the championship’s second female driver after Katherine Legge and the 14th of 20 confirmed drivers.
The Auto GP race-winner said: “I’m very pleased to join TrulliGP and I am very honoured to be part of the FIA Formula E Championship. I really do believe that this series can help attract people to use electric vehicles and help care for the future of the environment. I’m now looking forward to testing the car to start this new challenge.”
Jarno Trulli added: “Michela is a very talented driver with a natural skill. I was impressed by her recent results considering the very limited time she has spent in single-seaters. I’m extremely happy to share my long Formula 1 experience with Michela to make our team successful. I’m convinced that Michela is an up and coming star, the one to watch for this season and the future.”
Photo: Edoardo Mascalchi – EM Photography – Flickr – CC
It was an important evening for the e.dams team, founded by Jean-Paul Driot and four-time Formula One World Champion Alain Prost. The French team announced that Renault, also a Founding Technical Partner to the series, would become its title sponsor, renaming the team e.dams Renault.
The outfit also revealed its driver line-up with former F1 driver Sébastien Buemi and Alain’s son Nicolas Prost. This sees the return of a ‘Prost vs Senna’ battle following Mahindra Racing’s signing of Bruno Senna, nephew of the great Ayrton.
Alain Prost, co-owner of e.dams-Renault and ambassador for the Renault brand, said: “Jean-Paul Driot and I are delighted to be associated with Renault in this new adventure. The choice of Renault as a major partner was a natural step because of the exceptional record it has carved out in motorsport, as well as its unique expertise in the field of electric vehicles. Personally, I am thrilled by the idea of working with Renault on such an ambitious project again and by the prospect of writing a new chapter of our association. We are actively preparing for the first races of the season. This week’s test at Donington Park is the next step in that process and it will be followed by a busy summer in order to be ready and competitive for the first ePrix in Beijing, on September 13. It’s an enormous challenge because this championship is completely new, both in terms of the technology it features and also the race formats. These are very exciting times.”
Patrice Ratti, President of Renault Sport, said: “This partnership with e.dams-Renault will allow Renault Sport to have an even closer involvement with the FIA Formula E Championship. The series will be unique and takes motorsport into a new age. Renault is proud to be playing a part in the adventure which stands out as a new challenge. We know Alain and Jean-Paul very well and their experience and record make them high-quality partners. Our involvement with e.dams-Renault will play a core role in our participation and in our Formula E development work.”
Teams competing in the all-electric FIA Formula E Championship got their first chance to familiarise themselves with their Spark-Renault SRT_01E cars today during a shakedown session at Donington Park.
The teams completed a full-day of systems checks at the Leicestershire track in wet conditions using a modified configuration of the National Circuit, which included an additional chicane on the main straight.
The seven confirmed drivers – Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi (Abt), Sam Bird and Jaime Alguersuari (Virgin Racing), Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok (Mahindra Racing) and Franck Montagny (Andretti Autosport) – were all in attendance together with several new drivers under evaluation.
Rob Arnott, Team Manager at Andretti Autosport, said: “The car has run exceptionally well for us, almost like clockwork. We’ve had virtually no issues which say a lot for a car straight out of the box and Franck [Montagny] has been really surprised with the car and its balance, especially in the wet. I was concerned the tyres wouldn’t be able to cope being a ‘one-stop-shop’ so to speak but they are very impressive and a good compound. Tomorrow we’ll debrief and analysis the data but it’s apparent battery management is going to be key.”
Dilbagh Gill, Team Principal at Mahindra, said: “We’ve had a few teething issues today but overall it’s been very positive. The drivers have enjoyed it and Bruno [Senna] had a big smile on his face the first time he got out of the car. We have a great team using the experience of the successful Carlin outfit so now we need to convert them from petrol heads to ‘spark heads’!”
Nicolas Mauduit, Team Manager at Venturi Automobiles, said: “Overall it’s been a very good day learning the car and running a mixture of low and medium power setups. We’ll go away now and look over the data and get to grips with the car better as well as look in more detail about the regeneration system and improving battery life.”
Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E, added: “Today has been a proud moment for everyone involved in the FIA Formula E Championship. To have the teams running their cars for the first time is very special to see – and hear – and it’s fantastic to watch the championship becoming a reality. This is the beginning of a new era of motorsport.”
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