Inside Formula E, the green future of car racing

Inside Formula E, the green future of car racing 1

Grand Prix automobile racing dates back more than a century, to races prepared in France in the early 1900s. Now known as Formula 1, car racing is a global sporting phenomenon.

But some other racing league is taking uptown streets around the sector. And while it has all the comparable thrills of Formula 1, it lacks one essential element: fuel. Instead, the Formula E league uses “e-racers,” excessive-performance cars that run on electric power. This weekend, New York City is hosting Formula E’s season finale.


The unmistakable whir of a Formula E vehicle is one of the maximum one-of-a-kind sounds in the game. It’s some distance from the usual roar on a race track — but what the league lacks in extent, it makes up for in-depth. “Everything must be built in a very coordinated manner. It’s like a massive ballet,” said Alejandro Agag, the man in the rate of Formula E. CBS News first spoke with Agag five years ago when the league was kicking off.

“I did not even understand the automobiles had been gonna work,” Agag stated. “I consider while you had been there with us at the first-ever test… to peer if the aspect turned into gonna even move. And here we are, 5 years later, in New York, and it is possibly the quickest-developing motor recreation inside the world.”

“Everyone thought we were gonna fail,” Agag introduced with a laugh. “I suppose best I thought perhaps we had a chance.”

Formula E races are short — handiest about 45 minutes — and take region on tight tracks in town centers. Speeds can hit up to a hundred seventy-five mph. It’s a far cry from the most popular racing league globally, Formula 1, where the traditional combustion engines are more powerful and race on wider courses and a long way longer. But Jean-Eric Vergne, who drove Formula 1 before becoming Formula E’s pinnacle-rated driver, stated it’s now not so simple.

“Frankly, I’m extra scared within the qualifying lap in Formula E than I turned into in Formula 1,” Vergne said. “Because, you realize, the tracks are so narrow, it is a hefty vehicle. Very tough to interrupt. The handling is not as desirable as an F1. So, therefore, it makes the driving lots greater tough. Mistakes manifest — plenty quicker as properly.”

In the Formula E vehicles, the battery takes the engine area. Each fee about one million greenbacks and weighs 1,500 kilos, extra than half of-of that’s battery weight.

“You need to examine Formula E like we’re the beginning of a new bankruptcy in the vehicle industry, in racing,” stated Andre Lotterer, Vergne’s teammate.

In previous seasons, drivers had to transfer vehicles because batteries could not reach final the complete race. This 12 months, this is no longer the case: Battery power has progressed dramatically.

The logistics of moving the one’s batteries — and the entirety else — from city to metropolis is mind-boggling. In Brooklyn, nearly seven-hundred humans were working non-stop this week to construct music from scratch. The complete occasion will cost Formula E between $10-15 million.

Agag says making an investment within the future and dropping money, for now, is really worth it, as his league aims to become now not simply the pinnacle electric race series, however the pinnacle race series ordinary.

It’s intricate, though: Formula 1 and Formula E are regulated through the equal agency, the equivalent of an older brother and more youthful sibling battling for attention.

“I have no problem with Formula 1,” Agag said. “I love Formula 1. I assume it is outstanding. But manifestly… As the enterprise shifts in the direction of electric, Formula 1 unearths [itself] more and more without an industry to narrate to.”