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Formula E: Welcome to the future of motorsportThis year marks the first ever season of Formula E, an all-electric racing championship. We caught up with the engineers, drivers and F1 legend Alain Prost to find out about this new motorsport.
Formula E is a, is a racing championship for new electric racing cars in city, urban environments and that's a great package because the main thing about these cars is there's no pollution. There's no tailpipe, there's no particles, there's no CO2 emissions at the car here, so they can race in city centers, and there's no noise pollution. So it's, it's pushing electric vehicle technology. It's showcasing it. It's demonstrating it. And it will be developing it and, and pushing that technology forward. I was following the, the project, in the last four, five years already. I would never think that they were immaturity but then it seems last year when I saw the last project, especially the fact that you don't want to compare Formula E with another [UNKNOWN]. You are alone, only one day, only in the center of the city, you don't compare the last time of being done [UNKNOWN] Formula 1. And then you want, you want to [INAUDIBLE] the whole thing. So that's why I like the idea. If you imagine cars that look like Formula 1 cars, that go round tracks very fast except they don't make a lot of noise and they're electrically powered that's Formula E. And the other big difference is that instead of it being on racing circuits in the middle of nowhere, they actually, all the races are taking place right in the middle of cities. So the first one is in Beijing. And that's taking place on the streets of Beijing, right in the middle of the city, it's in Los Angeles, Miami, Berlin, Monaco and then finally in London next year. I've been in motoring a long time, for over 12 years. And I love motor racing, combustion motor racing. But when I heard about the International Federation thinking of a, of a sustainable championship, of a championship that uses new types of, of, of power trains which are clean, I thought it was a unique opportunity. Because I think racing is to be relevant. And this is relevant. This is technology that then can go to the road cars and can improve things. Can improve the, the city, the pollution in the cities. I think this goes where the world is going, or, or where the world should go. To cleaner transportation, to fight pollution. Older drivers they're in love with these cars, and said it's quite, quite impressive. It's pushing very much, especially in acceleration. I drove pretty much every car there is to drive. I drove Formula 1, GP 2, Formula 3, Formula Three, prototypes, GT cars all my life. And now I'm driving also the Funica which is the first full electric single-seater car and it's amazing. The amount of torque the electric motor produces is huge and because the motor is so precise, basically the amount of energy put into the motor, the the throttle pedal feels different and it feels completely responsive to the car. So it can control, drift, or can control [UNKNOWN] much easier than you do with a combustion engine. I'm going to drive the car for sure when I can. It's just to see what it is. I would love to drive a new Formula 1 with a new engine. You know? But I wait for, only for [UNKNOWN]. These cars will be quick. They will do naught to 60 in approximately three seconds, and they'll top out at 150 miles an hour, which will be the limits of the, the straits and the function of the circuits they go to. So these will be, these will be good, powerful racing cars. They will be, they've good amount of torque, they've got, you know, drag, they've got all the things in them that will make them a good, and exciting race car. At the end of the day when you start to build batteries and something it costs money. But if you look at the investment that you, you have to do is very, very little compared to to, from another one financially. So, that, that's why it's good. Also, talking about technology at the moment, you can have that as a, as a development and looking about two things that you could, you could bring. And it takes time, but you know you could, you could bring that, not at a big scale like a normal [UNKNOWN] car industry, you know? And could be that of prototype. But if you bring some new things and every two weeks or every month, you can see the difference on the track. Then it's good. That's the best. That's why motor racing is important. You know, you can use this kind of new things and having the marketing platform also to use it and for little cost. What you've seen with Formula 1 cars, like disc brakes. You know, predates most of the people who are watching this, but, you know, we used to have cars with drum brakes. Drum brakes did this thing that was called not working, if it was raining. [LAUGH] Which made stopping cars very difficult. And disc brakes were developed in motor racing and that, that has then become standard in cars. You know, cars have disc brakes, we don't even know anything else. You know, electronics. A lot of the electronic in engines. A lot of the, you know, engine management, all of that's come out of motor racing. And different materials that you use. So, exactly the same thing is happening here. I mean, the batteries in here are absolutely the state of the art. The motors are incredibly powerful. Absolutely the cutting edge of the technology, the battery control systems, the battery management, everything. Just being developed for these cars will eventually filter down into, into road cars. And it's being tested to its absolute breaking limit in these cars so you can see what is reliable. And they'll come up with some technology and go this is brilliant. [INAUDIBLE] Oh no all right we won't do that, we'll do this. I've seen that regularly in Formula 1 where the regulations have changed, new technology has been introduced and optimized to get a performance game. And then once you have that knowledge that, that transfers to the car industry because you can't lost knowledge. So once you've got that knowledge you'll improve on it. And so in a competitive environment, when we're all allowed to start improve in the power trends, that will improve the technology, that will improve the batteries, the controllers, the converters, everyone will restart working in all the areas of the car to improve performance and efficiency in all those little areas, and it rolled it up. The first season is basically the cars you see around you here. So they're all identical. Absolutely under all the teams have two identical cars that they'll use in each race. So the, the, it's very much down to the drivers this, this first season. So the second season will be where these, these same teams will develop cars themselves, under the same sort of, very strict guidelines that Formula 1 is done, so they can suddenly make one which has got 18 wheels and drives sideways. And that's really the way the, the game will really start to change. There will be cars that are faster than other ones. That can go further on one charge that don't need to stop half-way through. All those things. That's really what will push the technology the next step. The things people who are not only motor sport enthusiasts but people that are enthusiasts for sustainability innovation, electric technology, they will follow the championship. I love to see Formula E facilitates a big big breakthrough on, on electric technology, and hopefully on battery technology. If from Formula E we are able to produce batteries that last longer, I think that will be a major contribution for transportation and for electric cars. So that's what I would like Formula E to be.