Sixth different Formula E winner in as many races

Weekend Racing Wrap

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In this week’s racing wrap we have a sixth different winner from six races in Formula E at Long Beach, and the first round of the British Touring Car Championship from the Brands Hatch Indy circuit.

Formula E

Long Beach

Nelson Piquet Jnr moved up to second in the Formula E championship by taking his first win in the series at Long Beach – where his father triumphed in F1 35 years ago. He moves within a point of Lucas di Grassi, who he shared the podium with alongside Jean-Eric Vergne.

Sebastien Buemi had taken pole position for the race but was demoted to tenth for breaking Formula E’s restrictions on power use during qualifying. He recovered to take fourth place.

British Touring Car Championship

Brands Hatch (Indy Circuit)

Rob Collard and the Honda duo of Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal shared the three wins in the opening weekend of the competitive British Touring Car Championship.

Revisions to the format for this year include substantially more success ballast for the highest finishers and a race two grid based on the fastest laps set during that race instead of the finishing positions.

Three time World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx took pole position on his return to the series but struggled with degradation on the soft tyre and dropped to ninth in race one. Collard won from Aron Smith and Jason Plato, who took race two pole ahead of Priaulx.

Plato streaked ahead in race two, impressively setting fastest laps despite 54kg of ballast. It all went wrong four laps from the end though, as a four second lead was thrown away when a puncture sent him off the road at Paddock Hill bend, leaving Shedden and Priaulx in a photo-finish.

The random reverse grid race three saw tenth-placed finisher Rob Austin promoted to pole, but despite a strong defence for 20 laps, he was overcome by Matt Neal and Jack Goff, who went on to finish first and second and take the top two championship positions.

Race highlights not available yet, footage above is from qualifying.

Over to you

Up next is a bumper weekend of motorsport. As well as the Chinese Grand Prix it’s the second round of the IndyCar championship which is making its first visit to the NOLA Motorsport Park road circuit.

The World Endurance Championship, European Formula Three and Euroformula Open all begin and NASCAR starts a run of ten races on consecutive weekends.

Will you be watching any of these races? And what did you watch last weekend? Have your say in the comments.

Thanks to @Mathers for contributing to this article.

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51 comments on “Sixth different Formula E winner in as many races”

  1. FormulaE works well on street courses, but I just can’t take it seriously as long as they keep having to swap cars half way through.

    1. 2 cars per driver and the mid race swap really is laughable. The cars should be designed so that a relatively quick (45 minutes?) battery pack swap is possible, and then run 2 races.

      1. It is still a new sport and technologies are relatively new and under development. Yes for this year they use same cars and swap cars. Next season teams will be able to create their own cars, and they are working on batteries that last a whole race.

      2. I wouldn’t say laughable. A smart mobile phone barely lasts a day They have made no secret that this series will drive the technology of batteries and there is no surprise that running at that speed for so many laps will drain a battery quickly. The racing is really good also.

      3. The weight of the battery pack is around 320kg, so they had to place it low and in the centre of the car. If you put that kind of weight in a place that’s easily accessible (on top or in the sidepods) you get horrible problems with your center of gravity and/or moment of inertia, as far as I can see.

        The official plan is to have the batteries last a whole race from the fifth season on, teams and manufacturers will be free to develop their own batteries from the 3rd season onwards.

      4. This isn’t laughable. The car change and the power limit usage make the races more challenging and more enjoyable to watch.

        Laughable is the state of F1.

      5. The battery packs can already be charged in 45 minutes, so doing a replacement wouldn’t be necessary. As it is the backs aren’t easily removable for safety reasons.

        Designing the battery packs not just some simple task. The packs need to be as light as possible, not overheat, be safe in a crash and have an extremely large amount of power stored in them. The batteries also needed to meet regulations for flying. More advanced technology is needed to make real improvements for any of those and not compromise something else.

        1. You and others are simply describing the technological and logistical case for the liquid-fuel ICE over electric power. These issues have been present for more than 100 years. More advanced technology is always coming but at the end of the day, batteries to outfit even a weak hybrid road car weigh several hundred pounds and the power density is woefully inadequate for any kind of “performance” driving with substantial range. And the failures of Formula E in this area are what people see in the racing. Why should this be excused? As it is now, there should be two heats. The car switching during the race thing is ludicrous. I always hear the Benny Hill music in my mind when they are doing this. And the car switching calls into question the entire theory of the formula as moving toward the development of electric-only drive trains. At least hide this issue.

          1. @dmw
            I tend to agree with you about the questionable decision to swap cars. I think it could have easily been two Sprint races a la GP2. Would have made for more excitement and alleviated the focus on current battery limitations.

            But I’m not as pessimistic about the overall product. I’ve enjoyed the racing and the tech advancements are on track to allow them to run a full race distance on one car by the 5th season. With a little push on the technology, they might even do it by the 4th.
            Bird made almost 24 laps on one car last weekend. With more efficient electronics that could easily give them another 15-20% (SiC or GaAs) plus better batteries that could double the useable energy in 4 years….They could get to a full race length with higher speeds.

            Look at the progress at the Isle of Man TT Zero. In 2010 (first year), the EV bikes had avg speeds of 96mph for the winner. This year, they’re expected to be well over 120mph for the winner. The fastest lap ever for ANY bike is 132mph so they’re closing in quickly to their combustion counterparts.

            It’s new tech so I’m just enjoying Formula E for the good points it does have right now. Racing drives technology faster than anything else and I’m curious to see what Formula E will look like in 5 years.

  2. FlyingLobster27
    6th April 2015, 12:00

    Blancpain Sprint Series race 2 is about to start in Nogaro, France. Front row is Stéphane Richelmi (Audi) vs Maxime Martin (BMW). There are some brilliant drivers in the field this year, but unfortunately the Frijns/Vanthoor Audi was written off prior to race 1 yesterday.

  3. Is anybody on this site watching the Blancpain Endurace/Sprint Championship?

    Free coverage on Youtube, great commentary, great racing. Frijns partnering the champion, Bernd Schenider, GT cars. What more could you need?

    1. Yeah both races were pretty good. Noticed that Eurosport was showing the main race live as well.

      1. @andae23 I only have french eurosport. I stream it via the web on my PS4.

  4. Andre Furtado
    6th April 2015, 12:10

    Hard for me to take this seriously for a few reasons. Including but not limited to restriction on power use, Car swap, low top speed, and I know most of you won’t agree with me, but those cars are so silent it’s east to get bored, specially in the USA where coverage of motor sports is horrible and the comentators are worse. The fan boost option is a horrible idea. I feel like it would be more exiciting if you took the cars out of the equation and make them run around with roller skates

    1. The cars all look identical too (from my untrained eye at least), is there any development on the cars during the season at all, or are they all identical?

      1. They start constructor development next year. They’ll be able to change pretty much everything but the battery pack next year, and they start letting them bring in new battery tech the 3rd season.
        The racing is usually quite close and lost of passing so the races have been fun to watch for me. But I really am looking forward to seeing the constructors start to put their own tech into the cars next year.

        1. @daved

          They’ll be able to change pretty much everything but the battery pack next year

          This is incorrect. Season 2 only allows for power train development (quote from Official FIA Formula E website):

          “From the 2015/2016 season, the series will become an open championship allowing manufacturers to pursue their own in-house innovations, beginning with the development of bespoke powertrains.
          In order to limit costs and promote investment and innovation in the most important areas, the manufacturers’ scope is initially limited to the powertrain – specifically the e-motor, the inverter, the gearbox and the cooling system. All other parts on the cars will remain as they are, with the aim being to prevent costly aerodynamic developments.”

          1. @tonyyeb
            You’re correct and I shouldn’t have been so broad in that statement. I was so focused on powertrain as the main “new thing” about Formula E that I was thinking along those lines. But there is aero, suspension, aero, chassis itself….oh, and did I mention aero that can be kind of important and costly too :)

            So yeah, that was kind of a big “miss” on my part.

          2. @daved
            Yeah the car will be identical to this year (Spark Renault SRT_01E) just power train upgrades for season 2.

    2. I couldn’t care less about the lack of noise …

      Car swap, fanboost, stupid music to compensate for the lack of noise, boring tracks and low speeds are the biggest problems.

      But on the other hand: good points for having the most competitive field outside of F1.

  5. I still don’t understand why drivers get penalties for using too much power. Aren’t they restricted on how much power they’re allowed to use when not using fan boost? and pit stops…if they aren’t part of racing (I guess not since there’s minimum pit time) why are positions being changed so much? is it so hard to work out when to leave pit box? I guess I don’t like it either because I don’t understand it fully or rules are silly.

    1. They have maximum instantaneous power usage and total power usage limits. Same as F1 has fuel rate and total fuel usage limits.

      1. @wench ok, but in F1 nobody goes over the limit or runs out of fuel. Why formula E drivers keep getting penalties? Are they trying something smart?

    2. I think they want to avoid at all costs the image of cars running out of power on the track. That would be disastrous for this formula, given its aims.

      1. For safety reasons. It would be extremely dangerous for a car to completely lose power.

  6. Tom (@11mcgratht)
    6th April 2015, 13:30

    From that video, it felt like every single overtake involved some kind of crashing into the other car!

    1. Tom (@11mcgratht)
      6th April 2015, 13:31

      Formula E that is

    2. @11mcgratht
      I can see how you’d get that impression from the video clip, but I think they just did that because crashing looks spectacular. The races are usually very close and have lots of passing with no contact. Of the 6 races, 4 of them have had multiple cars fighting for the win on the last lap and there have been 6 different winners.
      Actually quite good racing.

  7. A lot people on this website air their gripes about Formula E, but can I be the one to say that I absolutely love it. The racing is open and close (both in terms of the on-track racing and the championship battle), every race has been full of action and unpredictability, the grid is jam-packed with quality drivers and teams, and the crowds the series has attracted so far have been quite impressive for a new series (probably due to very reasonable and sometimes free ticket pricing).

    Of course there are things that don’t work quite so well or could perhaps be improved. The circuits work well with these cars but could definitely be a bit more interesting. The sound of the cars could also be improved (although I barely even notice this now that I am used to it). And, although it hasn’t had much of an effect on the racing so far, I’m not a fan of the principle of FanBoost either.

    But what some people have to remember is that this is a brand new series and, like with anything else in life, you’ll never get it spot on first time. What they have created from nothing is innovative, interesting and fantastic to watch and improvements are already in the pipeline. By 2018 they should have the technology for these cars to complete the whole race without switching halfway through. Even from the first season to the second we should see an increase in power (and therefore performance), of course driven even further forward by the fact it is becoming an open championship from season 2, allowing manufacturers to develop their own powertrains.

    Not only are these improvements penned for the future, but we have already seen how quick the Formula E powers-that-be can react to immediate problems too. The incredibly slow formation lap of round 1 was rightly criticized and a pretty pointless drag on proceedings. For round 2, it was dropped and cars now just pull forward to their grid slots from a dummy grid positioned further back. In round 4 we saw a lot of suspension failures over the bumpy chicanes of Buenos Aires. By round 5, the suspension had been modified and strengthened to prevent a repeat. And has anybody heard much from the Formula “eJay”s techno backing music since the early rounds, because I certainly haven’t noticed it? I’m sure they’ve listened to feedback and toned that down.

    So all-in-all, I’m very impressed with this series and really looking forward to future races, especially the London finale which I can’t wait to attend!

    1. Agreed. When was a new series thrust in the spotlight so hard? Not so much this week, but the races have been close and generally a late fight for 1st position too.
      When people complain about the technology not being good enough, what do they expect? Magic? Voodoo? The technology is all new and developing at a rate of knots. Some people have said they shouldn’t try this until the technology is there to support it, but the technology will develop a darn sight faster now than it would as an idea for the future. Yes its not perfect yet, but I’m already enjoying it now and its only gonna get better.

    2. I agree. I hadn’t followed it’s development much prior, though I was aware of a lot of the components of it because my favorite former F1 driver is in the series, but a friend of mine — who doesn’t care about cars or racing at all — and I went to the Long Beach race, and we both had an absolutely fantastic time. He even got into rooting for a couple of the drivers! The crowd was large, and I didn’t hear any negative chatter afterward, just a lot of talk about everyone having a good time.

      I’d call that a pretty successful break-in for any new series, particularly in America.

      1. Agree with all these comments. The racing has been excellent & very entertaining. I don’t have a problem with the sound. I like being able to hear tyre squeal, aero & crowd noise. Impressive series given that it’s very early days. May it go from strength to strength.

  8. I like formula e. Its nothing t perfect but its good fun. Hoping to see it in London when tickets finally go on sale. However the best thing about formula e as a uk resident is that it has legalized street racing in the UK. I hear that Coventry want a btcc race next year and as I was too young to see the Birmingham super prix I hope it happens.

  9. I can’t wait for this weekend. Going to Silverstone for the weekend to see the WEC and European F3 openers as well as the underrated European Le Mans Series. The weather looks promising too, so it should be a blast!

    1. That sounds like a blast! Have a Great Time.I would even sit in some rain for that.

  10. BTCC race format is a complete mess. I loved what I saw yesterday, but thw way they decide the grids is a bit ridiculous. Also, 3 races seems a bit too much and at the same time, you end up wanting more. 2 slightly longer races would be better IMO: Race 3 only took half an hour, including a 5 lap SC period… that’s the mother of sprints !

    1. The BTCC is all ‘show’ rather than pure racing. Heavy success ballast and reversed grids ensure anyone out ahead will be dragged back down so the championship goes to the wire. It’s great fun to watch, but hard to take seriously.

  11. So, I have watched a Formula E race just to see if I would like it, and I have to say, my overriding thought throughout the race was, “OK, any minute now they will speed up”. So, I am all for new tech in auto racing, particularly if it gets me a better performing car, but I am far more impressed with the WEC and the advances there than I am with Formula E. The Nissan ZEOD clocked a full-electric only speed of 184mph around LaSarthe and utilizes a 1.4L, turbocharged THREE cylinder petrol engine that produces 400bhp, weighs…wait for it…88lbs and can fit in the overhead compartment of an airliner! It was fast enough to run with the LMP1s of the big boys. Now, to me, THAT is far more impressive than a motorsport series that is not as fast as your average Camry and needs two cars to finish the race. The whole thing seems to be concocted by environmentalists that felt ashamed they liked racing. The silent cars, the minimum pit stop times, the slow speeds…it’s what your mother would want you to race if you were dead set on racing.

    1. The ZEOD was quite impressive, but these cars could also do a single lap at that speed of that was their goal. They are intentionally limiting the speed of these cars because they have to make ~20 laps without running out of juice until the battery tech gets better. I know that 150mph isn’t blazing fast by the the standards of combustion engines that have been working for decades, but it’s not bad for the first year of a new series.

      The purpose of the series is entertainment with some fun racing and a chance for companies to show off new EV tech they come up with the next few years as they open up development to constructors.

  12. Come on, 6 different winners in 6 different races? That’s so 2012.

  13. Ironically, BMW Team Brazil is win the BSS main race

  14. BTCC race 2 was great. The photo finish was a matter of just 0.04s Good clean racing too. Glad to have Andy Priaulx back in the championship. One of the all time greats and a much better character than someone like Giovanardi or Muller
    One of my other highlights from the weekend was the start of the new MSA Formula 4 championship:
    If you’ve not yet heard the name Lando Norris, you will soon. I don’t wanna get too excited too soon and suggest he’s some sort of Max Verstappen, but two wins out of 3 against a number of drivers with more experience of open wheel cars is not to be sniffed at for a 15 year old. I’ll be following him closely this year.

    1. And the race that Norris didn’t win was partially reversed. World karting champion, exciting to watch last year in the Ginetta Junior series, and is now associated with Carlin. Looking forward to seeing what he can do in single seaters.

  15. While Formula E has the car swap for technological reasons, in some ways it brings an interesting element of strategy. It’s similar to refueling, but when drivers are getting close to the swap they can afford to drive more aggressively, because even if they sustain some damage they know there’s another car waiting for them.

    It’s a shame about the maximum energy usage though. I thought I had heard it was for safety reasons, but I’d really like drivers who are good at saving energy to pour all that reserve into increased speed whenever they like.

    Anyway, people who are critical of Formula E for them not making enough sound or its lack of speed seem to be willfully ignoring the incredible racing going on in that series.

    1. “I’d really like drivers who are good at saving energy to pour all that reserve into increased speed whenever they like.”

      A big +1

    2. Amen. And I was one of the people who was very critical of some of the more silly sounding aspects leading up to the first race. But it’s very quickly hooked me with some incredible racing in spite of some awful circuit designs. It’s odd, I feel the same as you about the car swap. it’s actually really fascinating strategically and this many races in I’m very used to it. It doesn’t feel all that ridiculous anymore. Moreover, the sound of the cars actually had me laughing a bit at the first race and now it feels completely normal. One thing that it really makes interesting is you can hear what each driver is doing to the tires more easily. Who’s hard into the corner? Who tries to carry more through the apex? There’s a lot of details you didn’t notice before with blaring engines. I think there’s a lot of race fans who have written it off simply because it’s so different from what’ they’ve come to know as “normal.” When you give it a chance and look at the raw racing, it’s one of the best new series around. A lot harder/closer racing than F1 sees, that’s for sure.

      Fan boost still has to go, though :P

  16. I still can’t believe that Heidfeld is down in 19th place in the standings. He’s been one of the best drivers in the series, and should have had at least one win to his name by now.

  17. It pains me to say it but in my opinion, right now, Formula E and BTCC are better than Formula 1. Would not have said that 7-8 years ago, or even 3 years ago!

  18. Formula E is a good surprise. Easily the best open-wheel series of 2015.

  19. I like Formula E. They obviously have to improve quite a few things (like reliability and battery life), but I think it’s worth noting that there’s nothing they screwed up completely. They have one of the strongest grids outside of F1, with great exciting racing and some room for strategic experiments. The races are fast-paced and rarely predictable, and their youtube policy allows me to watch the race whenever I feel like it. All in all, a very welcome addition to my viewing habits.

    1. +1 on your comment…all around.

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