After several years of discussion followed by significant technical development, the FIA Formula E Championship is finally ready to launch its inaugural season. Beijing is slated to host the initial event on the 2014/2015 calendar, by offering a city circuit configuration integrated within the boundaries of Beijing’s Olympic Village.
Each event’s format will largely mirror FIA’s Formula One World Championship, since all occasions will offer one or more practice sessions, followed by a qualifying round. In the case of Formula E, however, the more typical F1 ‘knock out’ qualifying series, based on three sessions (Q1, 2 and 3), will be altered to create a fastest-four-lap result instead.
All races will launch from a standing start similar to the F1 World Championship, but once an event has begun, the format will be operated on the basis of a timed event of one hour, rather than Formula One’s conventional number-of-laps-run approach. Each driver will also be required to pit twice during an event for the purpose of changing cars.
In the case of the traditional Formula One format, one or more pit stops are required in order to engage in race maintenance, usually driven by the changing of tires, or in the case of minor race shunts, the removal and replacement of ready aerodynamic components, i.e. nose/wing packages or rear spoiler elements. However, in the case of Formula E, pit stops will require the change-out of entire cars, since current high-charge batteries tend to degrade quickly at speed, thereby triggering significant loss of power.
Consequently, in order to overcome this intrinsic technological limitation, each team driver will compete in two cars, per race, in order to insure that maximum racing power will always be available. Each car will initially set to an ‘energy saving’ position creating a maximum of 133kw, based on an electric to combustion engine conversion value of 180 BHP. However, during a race, a driver will also be able to leverage short surges of additional power up to a maximum of 200kw or 270 BHP by means of a ‘Push-to-Pass’ boost setting.
For the 2014/2015 season, all Formula E cars will be developed and produced by Spark-Renault from a central manufacturing center, located at DoningtonPark, south of the River Trent, in Derbyshire, UK. Subsequently, however, once the inaugural Championship has concluded, new cars for 2016 and forward, will evolve to become an ‘open’ formula, developed and manufactured by each team organization.