Sustainable Energy

Formula 1's electrified cousin and the changing face of high-speed racing

Formula 1's electrified cousin and the changing face of high-speed racing

One of the most glamorous sports around, Formula 1 is associated with high drama, loud engines and fast, fast cars. Now another championship, Formula E, is looking to add some glamor to electric vehicles.

A fully-electric street racing series, the ABB FIA Formula E Championship is made up of 10 teams and 20 drivers, with races taking place in cities like New York, Paris and Hong Kong. It's now in its fourth season.

Putting on a high-octane show of racing is not the only goal of its organizers.

"Our objective and our vision is… more people around the world driving electric cars," Formula E Holding's Ali Russell told Sustainable Energy. "To do that we need to break down the barriers on people thinking electric cars are slow, they have no autonomy, to be able to create better electric cars in the future," he added.

While some of the vehicles' design is standardized, teams have the ability to make technical modifications in order to gain an advantage over rivals.

"The aim is to reach to maximum performance but also… maximum efficiency," Sylvain Filippi, CTO of Formula E team DS Virgin Racing, said. "So, using the least amount of energy for a given distance travelled."

Another difference between Formula E and its gasoline-fueled cousin is where the races take place. The majority of Formula 1 races are driven on specially designed, self-contained circuits.

"We drive in city centers," Formula E's Russell said. "So we have an inner city message in terms of… how do we lessen pollution and CO2 in… city environments, and how do we use electric vehicles and e-mobility to be able to do that?"