Saturday, December 15, 2018

ICYMI: Formula E Just Started a New Season!

gen2 formula e car drifts around berlin

Just today in Saudi Arabia the Formula E season for 18-19 started, and In Case You Missed It, you can watch the race on the Fox Sports app. I keep trying to kind of follow Formula E, so I watched the race this morning, and here's some random thoughts. FORMULA E

This is about the 5th year of these all electric cars racing, and they've now updated the cars and electric power systems so that the cars can run the entire 45 minute race on one charge. This might not sound like much, but you have to realize that up to now they've had a unique pit stop halfway through the race where the drivers parked in their garage, hopped out of the car and jumped into a 2nd car, because the batteries didn't have enough power for the full race. OK, so I guess they continue to improve on battery technology.

The carbon fiber cars look pretty cool, with unique "wings" over the rear wheels instead of a big spoiler in the back. Along with this they now have the world's largest diffusers in the rear too, so if nothing else you won't confuse these cars with Formula 1, Indy Car, or anything else.

The series continues to attract big names in the industry, with Audi, Nissan, BMW, Jaguar, Indian car maker Mahindra, and French auto brand DS. With 11 teams and 22 drivers, it looks like other racing you might have seen, but I'll admit it sounds different! There is a kind of high screeching electrical sound from the cars, but you will not mistake it for any gasoline powered car you've ever heard. With the backing of international governing body the FIA, and the continued interest in electric vehicles, I'd guess that Formula E will be around for a while whether we watch it or not.

Racing wise, there are some unique things to look out for too. First off, they have a "Fanboost" feature, where fans like us can vote online for our favorite drivers, and the drivers with the most votes get an increase of power for 5 seconds at the time of their choosing during the race. Hey, at least that's a way to get involved with the sport in an effort to make it interactive. FANBOOST

Similar to the Fanboost is another way that drivers can get an increase in electrical power during the race. With a specified activation zone on the track, the driver can go off the racing line and activate his boost  during the race, and boost his power a few minutes. From what I saw in the first race, boosting for that long seems to be worth a few places on track, and of course the tactics of when to use it is up to the driver. ATTACK MODE

Other than the teams and the cool technology, you might get interested in the drivers. With former F1 competitors like Felipe Massa, Stoffel Vandoorne, and others, it's nice to know a few familiar names anyway!

Another way that Formula E is trying to attract fans is to power pack the entire race, practice, and qualifying into just one day. Compared to NASCAR, INDY, or other races where you could spend a 3 day weekend to watch the average race, this schedule might appeal to fans that can't get away for more than a day. While that's good for the fans, I imagine the drivers and mechanics would like a bit more time to practice and set up their cars, but I guess you can't have everything. When the series wraps up this season in July 2019 in New York (Brooklyn), they'll go out in style with two races in two days. If  I'm still interested in Formula E by then maybe I'll ride the train and journey the 23 miles or so and see it live.

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