I’m pretty excited about the prospect of the FIA’s Formula E. I’m a closet Formula One fan but more for the engineering and strategy than the glamour and carbon dioxide emissions and I honestly don’t care about the noise. Formula One cars are loud but don’t sound ‘beautiful’ in the way that some road cars do.
Although teams will probably use cars made by a single manufacturer in the first year (the Formulec EF1 as pictured above), the key thing is to make it faster and more exciting than F1 as soon as possible which should be doable given the technical specs they’ve published.Â The key section is that there’s no restriction on the power of the motors or batteries to be used – the only restriction on the batteries are safety ones, they have to be approved in advance by the FIA and meet fire and crash standards. In principle you could strap the motor from an electric train to a chassis – that wouldn’t work very well but compared to the restrictions on engines and fuel in Formula One it’s an innovator’s paradise. The FIA has basically said “show us what you can do”.Â They’ll all have four wheels and be roughly the same size but apart from that, you can do four wheel drive, four wheel steering if you like, and plenty of things that are banned in F1 are allowed like traction control.
The other great thing is that they’ve said that tracks should be ‘city based’ – this is something that F1 struggles with because of the noise. They can basically only do it in Singapore and Monaco where the Governments are rather more, erm, decisive than other places. But imagine a Formula E race in Rio de Janeiro (they’ve already signed up) or London or San Francisco.Â Bernie should definitely let Formula E race the same weekend as Monaco on the same track to show people that they can go faster than an F1 car.
There are huge barriers to overcome, not least how to make it good on TV but I think it could be a very good thing for the future of electric mobility which is the only way I can see to end our addiction to oil in the near future.