Why Formula E when you already have Formula 1?

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The news floated around last year (2012) when FIA conceived the idea of a racing series based on Formula 1, albeit with Electric engines. It spread to soon and many firms got immediate interest in setting up a team for themselves.

And one thing I personally loved of this development was there was an Indian team among them.

Mahindra Racing has been putting a commendable effort into the Moto3 series since 2011 and were the top 3 team. With their Indian bike business not starting off on the right note, Mahindra started to get involved in high-tech motorcycle races to get their R&D prowess in-house.

They also have a distinction of being the only Indian motorcycle manufacturer providing their vehicles to other racing teams. Like the Renaults and Ferrari’s of F1. For me, that definitely sounds volumes of how much Mahindra is dedicated to prove itself as a global manufacturer.

Motorcycle or Car races are still seen as luxuries in India. One reason why they are so popular for viewers and not so for the Government officials. But there is another aspect that we all often neglect.

Technology advancement and Innovation.

Electric cars are pretty much the solution, unless if we decide to step back into the age and start using Bullock Carts

For the avid fans of F1, we know of many technology innovations from F1 have made its way to everyday cars. If F1 did not exist, we may have missed them. True, it is a costly affair, but every bit worth it. Be it as an entertainment, a channel to promote products and brands or the technology behind it.

Electric cars are pretty much the solution, unless if we decide to step back into the age and start using Bullock Carts. And India had this jewel of idea 10 years back in the form of a mini car named Reva. It was costly and only those purchased who wanted a fifth car to travel to nearest hotel for a Sunday brunch alone. A limited range of 80 kilometers was large deterrent factor.

Though non-polluting and cute, Reva failed to convert its cool-car-with-zero-pollution image to set cash registers ringing thanks to its pricing. With the recent announcement of Subsidies, this may change a bit. However the range (and size) would still be one of the biggest reasons why Electric Cars would not fly off the showrooms.

Formula E

Formula E then does not come as a surprise. In today’s time, we Indians are struggling with the increasing fuel prices. With the amount of pollution a billion of us are able to release everyday has already made its effects felt. We need the next big thing in the world that would help minimize and then eradicate this problem.

FIA Formula E Championship Logo
FIA Formula E Championship Logo

The only Indian company (which is also making a mark globally) manufacturing electric cars is the Mahindra Reva Car company. And they are out in the global super sports challenge with their bikes and now electric cars. Somewhere, I see this is the golden age for Indian motor sports if you compare its history. The ForceIndia F1 team has been consistently doing it in the in Formula 1 and now Mahindra with a Formula E team.

In any case, we all would stand to win. The Formula E is an attempt to bring like-minded companies together to compete and innovate the Electric Travel opportunity. Although it is a formula (refers to a set of rules with which all participants’ cars must comply) series, the development of the car is left open to the teams so they can innovate.

The Formula E cars have a range of approximately 20 minutes. Which means that to complete a race of 40 minutes will need two cars. So one team will have 4 cars and two drivers at each race weekend.

  1. There will be 10 teams, 20 drivers, and 40 cars
  2. Each team will include 2 drivers and 4 cars
  3. e-Prix will be held in 10 cities across the world
  4. Racing circuits will be held in cities, and will be approximately 2.5 km to 3 km long
  5. Cars will accelerate from 0 km/h to 100 km/h in 3 seconds, with a maximum speed of 220 km/h
  6. Noise decibel levels will be approximately 80 dB(SPL) (ordinary car: 70 dB; bus: 90 dB; Formula One track 130 dB

The first look of the Formula E Racing Car

Likely Race Schedules

  1. Early morning: free practice session, followed by qualifying
  2. Late morning: qualifying 1 lap time each driver with both cars A and B
  3. Afternoon: a 2-hour break to recharge the cars
  4. Evening: Final race with 3 stints and 2 pit stops
  5. Pit stop will involve a change of car: when the battery runs out, the driver will make a pit stop, then will run 100 metres to climb into a recharged car
  6. Races are planned to be 45 minutes in length.

One of the constant need addressed by FIA is the cost of such spectacular races. So in Formula E, in order to manage the costs of operating a Formula E team each constructor will be mandated to make their car available to two other teams for a maximum capped price. This cap is currently set at 350 000€.

I am excited to see how this pans out, especially with Team Mahindra Racing being part of this new world phenomenon. Let me know your thoughts, if Formula E will succeed in helping companies innovate further?

Some information related to Formula E is referenced from Wikipedia

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