Formula E will bring open-wheel electric car racing in 2014
By Mark Atkinson for MSN Autos
It's been a long time coming, but it appears that there will finally be a full global championship for electric-car racing starting this year. Formula E, a fully FIA sanctioned series, has slowly been making a series of important announcements about how it plans to revolutionize motorsport.
For now, Formula E will be a spec series, meaning every entrant will run the same open-wheel EF02 chassis designed and built by Spark Racing Technologies while sportscar maker and Formula 1 legend McLaren will provide the electric motor and other bits. Over 40 complete cars have been ordered so that every team that signs up gets access to four Formula E machines, meaning 10 teams competing. Eventually, the series plans to open itself up to competing designs from other manufacturers, but will certainly have to prove its viability before cash-strapped car companies invest heavily.
The plan for the initial season includes race events in 10 cities globally, and both Rio di Janeiro in Brazil and Rome have signed on already.
Earlier this week, Drayson Racing, a British-based sports car team run by Lord Paul Drayson, a former science entrepreneur and the UK Minister for Science and Innovation, announced that it was the first team to throw its hat into the Formula E ring. Drayson Racing has a strong history of 'green' racing firsts, including running bio-fuel and electric prototypes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
"We are hugely excited about the prospect of competing in the opening season of FIA Formula E," Drayson said. "We aim to be one of the front runners from the start, leveraging the know-how we’ve built up over the past two years working on electric drivetrains and developing our 200 mph electric Le Mans prototype. We believe that FIA Formula E has very significant commercial potential, it will attract new fans and new sponsors to motorsport and is on track to become the world’s leading environmentally sustainable global sporting event.”
For now, no events have been announced in North America, but to be honest, the whole series is running seriously under the radar here. Few people connected with motorsport know of it and even fewer are paying attention. The question is whether or not that really matters in the grand scheme? Racing series have been popular before without ever setting foot on this continent. Why would Formula E be any different?
What do you think? Is electric formula car racing a great step forward? Should it be encouraged? Will it fall flat on its face because of politics and public apathy? Let us know in the comments.