What does the word Formula bring to your mind? Formula 1, Formula 2, or even Formula 3 series, right? However, there is one more series that most racing enthusiasts do not take into account, and we will remember it much more in the future than the series mentioned above. The name of this series is Formula E! It has got electric racing vehicles and hosts different rules and increases its popularity every year. It also increases our hopes for the future. Formula-E, which is a reflection of zero emissions and green world trends in motorsports, seems to replace the current racing series in the coming years. Why should we turn to fossil fuels when we can do motorsports with clean energy?
The Birth of the Championship
Unaware of what was going to happen at a restaurant in Paris at the end of winter in 2011, the usual dinner service continued. However, some of the guests at the restaurant that evening were about to witness the birth of ideas that would perhaps drive the world of motorsport in a different direction. FIA President Jean Todt shared a revolutionary idea in the world of motorsport with politicians Alejandro Agag, Antonio Tajani and Italian actor Teo Teocoli, who were next to him at a dinner table. The idea was to create a motorsport championship using electric racing vehicles. Tajani and Agag, who supported this idea, provided concrete assistance to Jean Todt in realizing this idea. After about 8 years of infrastructure and media preparation, the FIA officially awarded Formula E races the title of the world championship in the last month of 2019. Thus, the Formula E series became the first single-driver racing series to receive the world championship title after Formula 1. At the same time, the world of motorsport has made a very important step towards a greener and cleaner world.
Although Formula E does not have different rules that can be considered revolutionary, it has a few features that we are not used to. Integration of these rules in harmony with electrical energy is the FIA's greatest contribution to a clean future in motorsport.
- Considering the general structure of Formula E, it was created as a championship where 12 teams and 2 drivers in each of these teams, a total of 24 drivers, competed. The vehicles used are electric and each driver competes on the tracks created on the streets of different cities. The length of these tracks varies between 1.9 km and 3.4 km.
- Each race starts with a two-stage training round. In this stage, which is carried out in the morning hours, the drivers test the vehicles on the track and go beyond the familiarization process. Full power usage is allowed at this stage. In the next stage, the qualifying rounds begin. In this session, which lasts for an average of 1 hour, the drivers try to get the best lap time in 6 minutes by going on the track according to the championship order in groups of six. Finally, in the stage called "Super Pole", the fastest 6 names of the day compete one by one to determine the starting order on the track.
- While the race was organized for 45 minutes + 1 lap, various rules have evolved over time. FIA, which obliged drivers to pit-stop once due to the battery endurance problem of the cars used in the first years, removed this rule in line with the problem solved with the second-generation cars. Now drivers can only poke around for a flat tire or critical repair. The allowed full power usage during training and qualifying is reduced to 200 kW in the race.
- The Formula-E series has two more interesting features. The first of these is the bonus chance called "Fanboost" that makes the audience an effective element directly in the race. In the voting offered for each race via social media, the audience supports by voting for their favourite drivers. Every driver who has won Fanboost 5 times receives the bonus that can be used in the second half of the race in a 5-second interval.
- Another feature we will mention is the "Attack Mode", which is a different version of the DRS (Drag Reduction System) system, which we are used to from the Formula 1 series, applied to the electric vehicle series. This feature, which was added to the races with the fifth season of the championship, enables drivers to gain a temporary power increase of 35 kW in certain parts of the track, just like in the DRS mode.
Evolution of Vehicles
Two different vehicle types have been featured in the Formula-E series so far. Third generation new vehicles are on the road and are planned to be on the tracks in 2022. These cars had advantages and disadvantages compared to themselves and their periods. Let's see what made them perfect or imperfect.
1.) Spark-Renault SRT 01E
The starting vehicle of the series, and perhaps the vehicle that started an era, was the SRT-01E vehicle developed by Spark Racing Technology. For the first four seasons, Formula-E management had 42 in garages. Vehicles with a power of 190 kW (250 HP) could accelerate from 0 to 100 km in 3 seconds and could speed up to 225 km/h. Although the SRT-01Es used the common electric motor produced by McLaren in the first two seasons, Formula-E management allowed the manufacturer teams to build their own engines in the following two seasons. In addition, while this rule was applied to critical parts such as the cooling system and gearbox, no modifications to the chassis or batteries were allowed. This situation slowed the development of the car in terms of battery and caused drivers to make a pit-stop and change vehicles in every race due to the short battery life.
2.) Spark SRT 05e (Gen2)
Second generation vehicles, also called "Gen2", were introduced to the public just before the 2018 season. SRT 05e, which has many innovations in terms of both design and technology compared to the previous generation, attracted attention as a much more futuristic and modern vehicle. With the developing power units, the vehicle has significantly increased its performance and has brought its maximum speed to a high level of 280 km/h. The long-lasting new batteries that came with the new generation ended the compulsory pit-stop and vehicle replacement problem experienced in previous seasons. At the same time, keeping pace with the developments in the field of safety, the vehicle was equipped with a safety cage called “Halo” which aims to protect the driver in case of an accident.