updated 06:47 pm EST, Tue January 7, 2014
Formula E race car makes first public demo in Las Vegas
The CES in Las Vegas hosted the first public showing of the FIA Formula E race car. The series, which kicks off in this September in Beijing, will feature 10 teams competing for the championship on city courses throughout the world, with the cars powered entirely by electric motors.
The Spark-Renault SRT_01E was piloted by Lucas di Grassi, Formula E's official Test Driver, and sounded like a big electric R/C car, which it effectively was. Qualcomm, the Founding and Technology Partner, hosted the Vegas event. For the first year of the series, teams will get identical (or spec) cars, though the championship will revert to an open concept in pursuant years with the idea being that competition will breed innovation in battery design and manufacture.
The two US stops on the calendar will include Miami and Los Angeles, and the first season is due to conclude in June of 2015. Each team will have two drivers and two cars for a field of 20 cars. As an interesting tidbit, one of the teams, Venturi Grand Prix, is backed by Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio.
The one-hour practice and the four-lap qualifying sessions will let the cars use the full 200kW (270hp) power outputs, while the race will be restricted to a power-saving mode where just 133kW (180hp) will be available. Drivers will get a push-to-pass button as seen in the past in F1 that unlocks the full might of the motor for brief periods of time.
Each team will have two drivers and two cars, and two pit stops will be mandatory over the course of the roughly one-hour races. Practice, qualifying, and the race will take one day so as to minimize the disruption to the host city and its residents. Speeds are said to reach as much as 140mph on the city circuits. The individual teams will develop their own batteries, which have a capacity of 30kW/h -- though thanks to the car's regenerative properties, that can go up to 33kW/h, according to series founder and CEO Alejandro Agag.