How ironic is it that on a day all about the electric revolution I have few pictures to show because both my windowsphone and Dadonthebrink’s iPhone have let us down? Both our batteries died early on during the first day of Formula E.
Nonetheless we had a memorable day.
On the public testing days access is free to the Donnington Park circuit, you just need to register. We registered as soon as we heard about the Formula E test dates from friends.
As we pulled up at 9:30 to Donnington Park, the testing was already underway.
We could hear the high pitched whizz of engines, like a jet engine.
The first car we spotted was in the Melbourne hairpin of the Donnington Park racecourse. It was stood still waiting for recovery.
And this was a lot of what the morning was about; the cars went out, did a few rounds and often stopped mid-track. The morning, especially, was about testing limits, with the public privy to the cars zooming by as much as being towed back to the pitlane. This was real life cutting edge testing and development happening in front of the public eyes.
The new Formula E cars were all built by Spark-Renault, a special consortium. They have a plethora of systems all interacting; software, hardware and a great driver make these groovy machines winners. As all 10 teams have the same cars this season, ironing out the interfaces between these 3 key elements of hardward, software and driver is going to be what the next 2 months is about till the 13th of September,when the cars hit the streets of Beijing.
We watched for a while from the Grandstand. There was an excellent view and great commentary blended with music , which meant time flew past even with periods when there was no action on the circuit.
Max, who is two years old, was very excited watching the cars whizz by and spotting the occasional plane overhead (as Donnington Park is right next to the East Midlands airport). When he got bored we could wander around along the circuit.
The cars really do look and sound amazing. My favourites were the Amlin Aguri with it’s shimmering blue and the Virgin Racing chrome cars.
We also got to hear from the drivers.
Bruno Senna, driver for the Mahindra team, being interviewed in the commentator box told us how different the Formula E cars were:
“The cars are quiet. You hear the tires screech in the corners; You have to rely on your senses, concentrate on your speed, because you don’t have the engine noise as feedback.”
During the pit lane walk-through we had the pleasure of grabbing a couple of minutes of Antonio Felix da Costa ‘s time. The Amlin Aguri driver was lovely, sparing his rest time to talk to me and Dadonthebrink:
“The Formula E very different from driving in the Formula One, the cars are slower and need different technical skills. I’m happy to be driving in Formula One and Formula E too.”
We also found out that unlike in Formula One the Formula E cars have no direct system link with the pits during the runs. The driver has a lot more autonomy and decisions to make relating to power management. They have lots to learn on energy recovery. Driver had to work out when and where they redirect energy from braking, how they use boost.
Formula E is cutting edge and breaking boundaries in a number of ways.
Formula E is about realistic technical development.
This new automotive racing discipline is pushing technology limits, but also has strict constraints so that learnings can be migrated into the cars you and I can drive as rapidly as possible. It has speed limits of 225kph and races will be city roads, just to make it more real.
Formula E is about smart racing.
In a Formula E car the driver can’t just put the accelerator down and push the car to it’s limits. The driver has to have a strategy of utilising the limited resources of battery power to the highest effect.
Formula E is inclusive.
The way the test days are open to the public and not just VIPs get to do the pit walk; The races will play out in the streets of our cities and the teams have already announced 2 female drivers too of the 14 drivers so far confirmed- Katherine Legge for Amlin Aguri and Michela Cerruti for Trulli.
Furthermore audiences will have even more say, we have Fanboost! We can vote, Hunger Games style, for our favourite drive and she will earn a small power boost, something to help her in overtaking. I say: “GO Ladies! (not that I’m biased 😉 ) and GO Formula E!
*image source- Amlin Aguri
Have you heard about Formula E? What do you think about it? Does it appeal?
For more information on Formula E:
The official website: FIA Formula E
The unofficial informative site: Current-E