Remember how excited people got about the Audi R10 TDi racers when they debuted? They were something completely new and different. They were the pinnacle of technology, they were fast, they were quiet, and they wiped the floor with their competition. Starting this weekend, the FIA is trying to capitalize on that alternative energy racing craze that Audi pioneered all the way back in 2006. Instead of a now-accepted diesel racing car, however, they are introducing electric racing to the world stage in an open-wheel series dubbed “Formula E”. Some people have called it crazy, some are condemning it to failure before it’s even begun. In comparison with traditional racing, Formula E does have some downsides, primarily a spec chassis, a spec powertrain, and spec tires, combined with a relatively low top-speed (only about 140 miles per hour), and an inability to produce aurally pleasing exhaust notes.
Is Formula E going to be the Formula 1 replacement for the Prius driver? I don’t think so. This should be an excellent racing series that provides some pretty exciting racing action, and while it won’t provide the sounds and smells you’re used to in open-wheel racing, it should be pretty indicative of the future of motorsport. We need to find a way forward if we want motorsport to continue into a non-fossil-fueled future. Maybe Formula E is the stepping stone we need to develop the technology for sustainable motor racing. Maybe it’ll fall on its face right out of the starting gate, but personally I really hope it doesn’t.
After the jump, we continue our series of articles covering the various road racing series and important races all over the world. In previous installments, we have covered The United Sports Car Championship, the 12 hours of Sebring, the Bathurst 12 hour,Indycar, the Pirelli World Challenge, the FIA World Endurance Championship, Formula 1, Global Rallycross, The 24 Hours of Le Mans, and The 24 Hours of the Nurburgring.
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