FormulaE – Future of Performance Motorsports
The sweet revving sound of the F1 car is music to hardcore fans of the sport – It is like an acquired taste, you either like sushi or you don’t, there is no in-between. But with the advent of the Elon Musks of the world, there has been a lot of chatter around electric vehicles and it is slowly starting to become a reality across the globe. But even before a path-breaking car comes into the foray for general consumption most major car makers bring the best of their technologies onto a racing circuit.
From Ford to Ferrari every carmaker has burnt the rubber on the racing track to test out their latest automobile technology. Let’s take the case of ‘Formula 1’ (which is the topic of discussion for this post) the racing technology has been of very high importance and the engines have evolved over a period-of-time since its inception in the 1940s. Let’s take the example of the famous ‘V6 Engines’ that has been used in F1 today. It started off as an engine that was built (1908 to 1913) as a generator by the German engine manufacturer Deutz AG to support the gasoline-electric railway engines. This famous engine has been into production ever since as an automobile engine with various carmakers making their own version of it. The famous ones being the Ford Essex, Alfa Romeo Alfa 6, and Nissan GT. However, it was in motorsport that the V6 engine garnered the ‘much-needed’ attention, suffice to say F1 has played a major role in influencing car manufacturers and the buyers. So, who better to pioneer the Electric Vehicle ‘transition’ than Formula One.
Formula E was conceptualized by Jean Todt of the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) in 2011, specifically, to field electric cars in professional racing. The idea (one that was scribbled at the back of a napkin in a small restaurant in Paris) was presented to politicians Alejandro Agag (Spanish businessman) and Antonio Tajani, (Italian minister responsible for the electrification of the automobile industry). Agag with his prior experience in negotiating contracts, sponsorships, and marketing took on the task, thus creating a Formula E (a disruptive in motorsport) in 2014, a single-seater racing series outside of F1 to be given the world championship status.
The Formula E cars are powered by a battery (double the energy storage capacity) with a maximum power output of 250KW that can reach a top speed of 280 km/h (174 mph). The beauty of Formula E racing is that – every constructor gets to have the same battery technology and a similar power output making it equally competitive and fun to watch. The battery construction comprises cylindrical battery cells that use a greater voltage for fast charging and limited degradation over the distance of the race. The current version of the battery was increased from its previous version to avoid the mid-race car swap due to battery storage capacity.
The powertrain comprises of the Inverter, Motor, and the Transmission. The inverter converts the electricity created by the battery from a direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) that in turn powers the drive wheels. The motor and the transmission are effectively used by the driver for maneuvering and speed.
What is more interesting is the sound produced by these machines, they ideally do not cross the 80DB mark as compared to the F1 cars which cross a well over 100DBs minimum.
So, what makes the Formula E very interesting – is just because it is sustainable, less polluting, or purely just the adrenalin of the sport? We would say it’s a mix of all the above that makes it very exciting for the makers and the viewers to come together and enjoy the sport.
Formula E is treading in the right direction and the patronage is slowly increasing considering the fact that they are redefining the boundaries are being the perfect blend sustainability, innovation, and entertainment. Formula E is slowly becoming a pioneer in embracing greener technology and are paving way for other sports to consider sustainable solutions, if not replicate the same.
How Sustainable is FormulaE
Formula E’s approach to fighting climate change is to think globally and act locally. This vision of theirs is funneled into every process they follow, right from the way they design the cars, the batteries, the tires, the racing venues up until the transportation – everything is done in a sustainable manner to reduce the overall carbon footprint.
- The cars are powered by Formula E glycerin fuel generators which is 100% renewable, reducing emissions considerably
- The cars use only one set of all-weather hybrid tires per race, specially designed by Michelin
- The tracks are temporary and in the heart of some of the world’s leading cities, reducing permanent infrastructure needs
- Since the race happens in some of the famous streets of the cities, fans are encouraged to come in public transport or shared electric vehicles to watch the race
- The race router is planned well with the logistics partner to optimize freight and reduce the footprint
Formula E is being true to its objective to “make electric transport the new normal by 2030” by adapting the latest technologies in the sustainable business.
The only sport that can bring about a permanent change in the mindset of people with regards to climate change is Motorsport and Racing. Formula E is doing just that.
We at Navsar got inspired by this and realized that the path towards sustainable living and climate change is difficult and it has to be sown at the grassroots level and we are starting that closer to our home. Every year we award the school topper of the nearby government school in Chennai with some artifacts that they can use to propel their journey further. This year, our E-Mobility division, Atral Electric, has award the meritorious student with an electric cycle and explained the benefits of the same to all the students that were present, hoping they understand the need of the hour and in the near future adapt to it and spread the word.
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Article References: FormulaE website, www.pocket-lint.com and multiple other sources.