Formula E

Formula E Round 1: Beijing ePrix

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    I was a little cynical, but it’s won me round. I’d like to think that if I had been in the grandstands at Beijing I’d have gone home thinking it was money well spent.

    I do agree with what others have said – if the point of this series is to promote electric motoring, then having cars which can barely go half as fast as a hybrid F1/LMP1 car and then run out of juice after 20 minutes is not going to convince the doubters. But I can’t think of a better way to improve the quality of motoring technology than to set up a race series to trial it. I still think the whole idea of electric motoring is a con (can’t see how driving petrol car is any more eco-friendly than a car powered by the fossil fuels that put electricity in the plug) but if this series can help push electric motoring to a point where it can be seen as a realistic alternative to the car of today, then that can only be a good thing.

    If nothing else, I found the race enjoyable simply due to the people and organisations involved. I found it so enjoyable seeing such an array of driving talent come from so many different areas. I’ve followed nearly every driver at some stage of their career, be it in F1, IndyCars, sportscars or GP2 (Michela Cerruti was the only one I wasn’t really familiar with), and seeing all these names racing each other was pretty cool and a little nostalgic, too. I really think Formula E could make a case for having one of the most talented grids outside of F1, and that fact alone means I’ll be tuning in a couple of months time.


    I really enjoyed the race, I thought the track was quite novel, especially the 7-8-9 chicane, and while it wasn’t the most inspired layout, it didn’t deter the drivers all that much from overtaking. The cars sound pretty good to me, not totally quiet, and they look nice. They aren’t fast, but karting is exciting to watch, and they’re far slower than these. The graphics were good for a first race, with the only downside to them being the percentages sometimes going wrong, though I’m sure that’s just a teething problem. The Formula E-J was an unusual idea, but I enjoyed Ridge Racer games, so I liked it! Fan boost was hardly mentioned – but it didn’t make a difference so I can only infer that the constant complaints from media about it were overstated. The car change was interesting too, I’d be interested to see how that will work in future races in terms of the TV being able to keep up with everything happening – the shape of the pit lane couldn’t have helped. So, in terms of the ‘show’, for me a Formula E provided something a little bit different, and I certainly enjoyed it! The calendar is good too, we’ve got road course racing aplenty, and in America they love ovals, so it’s novel to have a series solely on temporary layouts.

    Regarding the race, I thought there was good action, Montagny was amazing, and I was rooting for Heidfeld to catch up, and when he dived down the inside it was something amazing, haven’t seen that in F1 for a long time! The crash was crazy, really impressed by the cars integrity, and Prost was totally out of order – though a 10 place penalty is good in my opinion – the incident should be based on the action of taking Heidfeld out, not the consequence that Heidfeld was launched by a kerb. Di Grassi did well and was obviously lucky to win, but it was a real moment of drama lacking from other racing. The power differences at various points were good to see, helping the racing. In the end, I loved it, and can’t wait for Putrajaya!

    bull mello

    Very good start to a truly groundbreaking series. Decent action and overtaking through most of the race. The pit stops/car changes went better than what I had anticipated. This race proved again that great racers are great racers no matter what they are driving. Prost did well to maintain his lead through the race, until his last lap debacle that deserve a race ban. Heidfeld and Montagny moved up nicely. It held my attention throughout and there were very few glitches for a brand new series and racing technology.

    Bad points, as others have mentioned:
    Fan boost, although it seemed mostly forgotten once the race began.
    FIA Formula E needs to beef up their website servers to handle the traffic. Makes them look rather unprofessional to be essentially offline for about 24 hours during qualifying and the race.
    The soundtrack music is utterly stupid. It’s like adding a really annoying laugh track to a funny TV show. Not needed! Lose it, now!
    The track itself was absolutely horrible. Can’t wait to see better facilities.

    Fascinating beginning, looking forward to more!

    Craig Woollard

    At least the next track looks pretty decent. Loving that final corner!


    Just watched it online. Really enjoyed that, a lot. Relatively uninspiring track, but lots of moves made despite that, Montagny was very exciting. Good battle between Piquet, Sato and Servia.

    As a Nick Heidfeld fan I was very happy for lots of the race, god knows what was going through Prost’s mind when he swerved. Thought it was 50/50 live, but replay made it clear he was to blame. Love that Heidfeld went for it though!


    So while most feel that the cars are “too slow” I actually appreciate good racing regardless of the speed. Having done and watched plenty of low-level car racing in iRacing I can tell you, some of the best and tightest racing can be in slower cars. That said, I’m pretty much in line with most of the complaints: ditch the background music, ditch fanboost and for god’s sake design a track that is more interesting next year.

    What struck me was that even though I’ve been a proponent of sound does not equal the most important thing in racing, I found the sound of the cars almost comical when heard from the TV camera. It wasn’t until they did some onboard views that I began to appreciate the sounds they made. Otherwise, it really did come across as a remote control car race from an audible sense. That made it hard to take seriously at first. Thankfully as the racing progressed, I began to forget about the sound and simply enjoy the great battles that were going on. One really great positive to take away from those was that cars being able to turn their power up and down to attack or save made for some good opportunities and less “save the tires” moments. Same with the aero, though I suspect that was due to the low speeds meaning close racing is not as hindered by aero wash.

    One final nitpick… I watched the ITV broadcast and the opening segment quickly left me very “meh.” But when the host said something to the effect of “we haven’t seen a Prost on pole since what, ’63?” I lost pretty much every bit of interest in any point in which she spoke. If that is actually what she said (hoping I simply misheard) then dear god… get an actual racing buff in there. I could understand being 5-10 years off if a presenter isn’t an F1 fan who’s got the knowledge tucked away. But 30 years off? That’s when you get the impression they’ve hired a pretty face who doesn’t give a crap about motorsport. Only thing that prevented me from switching to someone else was when I heard Dario was in the booth. I could listen to him talk for 20 races.

    Overall, I’m going to keep watching because it was good stuff out on track, but probably Fox’s broadcast next time to see how they compare.


    @joey-poey I am ready to be corrected if I’m wrong but I think for Formula E the commentary team is part of the world feed meaning Fox should have Dario and Jack Nicholls’ great commentating as well – and I’m afraid you were right she did say 63 – I rewound it out of disbelief!

    Iestyn Davies

    ’63 sounds like a Freudian slip from ’93 to me. Or, a jesting joke that Prost senior is now getting on a bit…

    Fair enough, it was a good first attempt at a race… could they not have broadcasted Qualifying though? If the cars are actually faster then, it would help dispel the ‘cars are too slow’ argument. Improving the pit stops and cutting down the length of the limiter section (which looked ridiculous and anti-climactic) would help too. Not to mention, someone needs to improve all these sausage kerb/launchpads….

    PS. The gap in October is crying out for a race in Japan, after the F1. What about the 18th, two weeks after the Japanese GP?


    I wasn’t really bothered by the lack of on-track action (excluding the obvious) considering how novel the series is, I’m just concerned that the majority of the fans won’t be so patient and won’t give the series another try.
    There’s definitely areas the series can improve – dropping Fanboost, getting rid of that silly music, and hopefully having a better track layout than whatever the hell we saw yesterday. But at the same time I’m still really impressed by the fact that an all-electric racing series didn’t immidiately get mocked into oblivion and was actually given a chance by most fans.
    The cars are definitely too slow, but I might still head to the London race next year. Apparently the live sound is better than what we hear on tv?

    bull mello

    Prost to receive a 10 place grid penalty for the next race. Heidfeld says he believes Prost did not crash on purpose as they are friends. Prost accepts blame for causing the crash after watching video. He says he did not see Heidfeld.

    Anyways, seems a bit light on the penalty, but better than nothing. Still disappointed for Heidfeld though.

    Looking forward to the next race. The next track looks much more promising. Hope the powers that be listen to the race fans and make the most important improvements soon. Final note, it was good to hear Dario Franchitti on the race broadcast. Thought he did a good job and it’s good to have that real race car driver’s perspective.

    Andrew Miller

    Not only did she say “63”, she’s the BBC’s f1 pit lane reporter for their radio coverage!


    I was thinking over the battery/range/power issue over the weekend. Obviously these cars are quite heavy because of the battery pack.

    What I would quite like to see is Tesla to become involved, their top battery/motor combo produces 310kw and gives 265miles which equates to 424km of range at average driving conditions, so obviously going flatout will reduce range considerably.

    However, considering the entire race length of the China ePrix was only 54km, 3.44km*25laps, at most economical driving conditions the Model S could complete 123 laps of the circut, which is nearly 10times as many laps as the Formula E cars could manage, honestly going not that much slower, so even at full race chat based on China we could see the FE cars complete the whole race on a Tesla battery system.

    Now to my actual point, given that the Tesla battery system is by far and away the longest range system avaliable, once they have their Gigafactory up and running, could we see them in a partnership with Renault and Formula E to provide batteries to complement the Renault motor and see either the cars completing the whole race as I said above, or continuing to use two cars but going a hell of a lot faster in each car?

    Obviously the battery pack would have to be smaller to fit into the smaller FE cars, but considering the lower weight and everything, they would still give a significant range boost.


    I’d say I kinda enjoyed the race. It was intriguing, for sure. At least the first half of it. The second half was a lot more monotonous….until the final corner of the final lap. Initially I thought it was Heidfield being over-ambitious, but seeing the replays I agree…nothing less than a one race ban will do for Nico Prost.

    The one thing good is that cars can follow each other closely. So that shouldn’t be an issue, unlike F1. But I reckon two reasons we did not get a better spectacle on the overall (in terms of overtaking) – the track layout itself, and also the lower acceleration and top speed compared to other single seaters. Do you reckon next year perhaps, we’d see greater acceleration and top speed as they loosen the regs?

    And regarding fanboost…when was it used? Did anyone use it? Why was it not talked about in the race? (I am happy though that the fan boost did not alter the outcome of the race)

    One thing I do not understand is, how did Heidfield jump 3 cars in the pits, given that they all have to adhere to a minimum time anyways? I found it to be odd, and I thought he would be eventually penalized.

    Since this year is mostly a “shakedown”, hopefully next year we see faster cars, and also slightly longer races. They should aim for 1 hr 15 mins.

    Round 2 is in Putrajaya. I am planning to go, but unless I get the expensive grandstand tickets, I am not sure there would be any point in going. Plus I thought the TV cameras etc were good, except maybe the graphics HUD was a bit too small.


    I thought that was a really promising start to a new championship and showed some amazing potential for the future. A few of the good things:
    Some great racing and overtaking (Prost’s move was awful BUT it did make for a dramatic end!)
    Some interesting strategies
    The cars look good!

    A few bad things:
    TV graphics – using light coloured fonts on light coloured backgrounds (and it not being broadcast in HD on ITV4 in the UK) meant it was infuriating trying to read and decipher some of what was appearing on screen. There was also far too little of what positions drivers where in – it needs the near-constant ticker across the bottom like in F1 coverage.
    FanBoost – I’ll ignore whether it is a good or bad thing, the point is that it IS here. However, after all the coverage of trying to get people to vote for their favourite driver we were then never shown/told if or when it was used!!

    Overall, I think there is LOADS of potential and I’m looking forward to it developing over the next few years. I also hope that the organisers of FIA Formula E realise that if you are trying to target the millennial generation (with FanBoost, constant music etc etc) then you need a LOT more info on screen! Everyone of that age will be watching the screen with one eye and have their phone tablet in their hand at the same time – give us as much info as possible about what is going on! Give us constant driver positions! Whenever its in-car footage show the car telemetry data! When someone activates FanBoost INSTANTLY cut to them OR show a graphic on screen that says “(driver X) is using FanBoost”.

    Looking forward to the next round!


    The series has it’s issues, and not all of them will be ironed out in the next two months (or even this season,) but it exceeded my low expectations, and I enjoyed the race… right up until the last corner.

    My Heidfeld fanboyism ensures I’ll watch the rest of the season, but even if he wasn’t racing I’d probably tune in from time to time.

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