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FIA Formula E Holds Open Forum
Ambitious Plans For The Future Of Motorsport

An open forum was held at Silverstone over the WEC weekend, revealing details about the new emission-free FIA Formula E single-seater series, which is due to have its inaugural season next year.

 “It’s an open championship; in the first season there will be a customer car, but then it will open up” Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag explained. “We want different cars and manufacturers in the future, with a focus on electric power”.

The main focus of this new series is to promote the image of electric powered automobiles and improve the technology responsible for reducing the emissions from cars in inner-cities. “It’s parallel with what we are achieving with ACO endurance racing,” added ACO President Pierre Fillon.

The new series will have a unique format with the entire calendar based on street circuits, due to the focus of the championship being the promotion of the use of electric cars in cities. “One day events; practice in the morning, with qualifying and a race in the afternoon,” said Agag. “The drivers will not know the tracks; it’s part of the challenge.”

The provisional calendar was also released at the conference, with eight races confirmed and two locations yet to be announced. It was also revealed that the series will provisionally be run in the winter, from September to June. This way it will give professional drivers an opportunity to compete without the risk of calendar-clashes with other major series.

While a full calendar - with dates - is hoped to be announced by the FIA World Council before September, the locations currently confirmed are:

- London - UK
- Rome - Italy
- Los Angeles - USA
- Miami - USA
- Rio de Janeiro - Brazil
- Buenos Aires – Argentina
- Beijing - China
- Putrajaya –Malaysia

In terms of cars, the customer chassis that will be used in the first season is the work in progress 220kmh SRT_01E, designed by Dallara, with the electric power train built by McLaren. In order to ensure availability for teams, 42 cars have been ordered, which will supply each team fully, with two spare.

The series will include ten teams, running two drivers each. Each driver will have two cars, because of the limitations of the batteries, and will therefore swap cars during the day. Another interesting decision is that the customer cars will also be leased for free to teams for the first year.

The target for the series is a very high standard of driving and Lucas Di Grassi, Formula E Ambassador, spoke about the advantages and appeal of driving an electric car: “It’s good to drive the electric cars for drivers, because there are no vibrations. You can hear noises you wouldn’t normally hear in a standard combustion engine.” When asked about his opinion of the format, he had this to add: “It will require very good drivers with the one day events, because you have to learn the track, become fast and manage the battery”.

The series organisers will also be at Le Mans this season to see what can be learnt from the technology being used in the Garage 56 project, in an attempt to analyse possible power solutions for use in future seasons: “We will be at Le Mans looking at the Green GT hydrogen fuel cells, to expand our range of technology.”

Looking into the future, Agag hopes to attract a variety of manufacturers to the series - each with a diverse array of technology - and eventually raise the series’ profile: “We want freedom in the series, and no balance of performance. It will (eventually) be a top line series, up there with F1, WRC and WEC, and will attract professional drivers because the nature of the format is so tough.”

It’s going to be a very interesting series to look out for in the coming years, not just because of the technology that will be developed for use in road cars, but also how it may affect the shape of the future of motorsport too.

Stephen Kilbey