By Peter M. De Lorenzo
Detroit. Last week, in my column entitled "Formula Ennui," I outlined my thoughts on the FIA's new all-electric racing series, or Formula E as it's officially called. One of our readers watched the first race of the new series and sent along his comments:
I enjoy reading your take on all things automotive, and was particularly interested in your opinion on the FIA Formula E series. Well, the first race went down in China, as scheduled, and I watched with great interest, or maybe a bit of morbid curiousity. Some thoughts:
1. A street course seemed ideal for what these things need to put on a decent show. Reasonable straights followed by mostly 90 degree corners. Good for the passing opportunities that did occur, also the braking needed helps with energy "harvesting" to get the most out of the battery.
2. They were a bit slower than I expected, but given that it's pretty much the same for everyone it made for some interesting moments. They need at least another 100 horsepower. But given the state of the art in electric vehicle power systems, that's not bad when you consider the output they get out of a fairly small motor unit.
3. The cars were pretty well turned out, and the organization already seems to be a notch above the current IndyCar Series.
But the big thing I took away from it? It wasn't horrible, and given the development pace possible we could see some reasonably quick performance within a few years. And given that the regulatory and "green weenie" pressure begininng to be put on all forms of racing, it's promising that there may be a viable alternative to the ICE for some kind of racing that might be "politically acceptable".
Thank you for your comments, T.G. One thing I didn't make clear in my column last week is that the formation of the Formula E series was a direct response by the FIA to the burgeoning "green" political pressure that's overrunning Europe. There's a growing anti-car, anti-racing movement in Europe that seems to be gaining strength by the month, and it is a very serious issue with lasting implications, one that's worrisome to both auto manufacturers and racing organizations alike.
The FIA created Formula E so that they could say that they were being responsive to the green power movement. But it's also clear that they did it as a diversionary tactic so that the green power movement would keep its hands off of Formula 1. Will it appease the "greenies" enough? That's anyone's guess. But that's the real story behind Formula E's existence.
I still view Formula E as Slot Car Nostalgia as brought to you by the FIA, but it exists, at least for now.
We'll see where it all goes.
Publisher's Note: As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, we're proud to present another noteworthy image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD
(Courtesy of the Ford Racing Archives)
Anderstorp, Sweden, June 17, 1973. Race winner Denny Hulme (No. 7 Team McLaren Yardley McLaren M23/Ford Cosworth DFV) leads Mike Hailwood (No. 23 Team Surtees Brooke Bond Oxo Surtees TS14A/Ford Cosworth DFV) in the Swedish Grand Prix at Scandinavia Speedway. Ronnie Peterson (No. 2 Team Lotus John Player Lotus 72E Ford Cosworth/DFV) finished second and Francois Cevert (No. 6 Team Tyrrell Elf Tyrrell 006/Ford Cosworth DFV) finished third. Hailwood suffered a DNF half-way through the race.