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The FIA Formula E Championship prepares for primetime

Mahindra Racing’s new Formula E drivers Bruno Senna (left) and Karun Chandhok.
Mahindra Racing’s new Formula E drivers Bruno Senna (left) and Karun Chandhok.
FIA Formula E, used with permission

It has been a busy few weeks for the FIA Formula E Championship. With less than four months until the inaugural event near Beijing's Olympic Park on September 13, teams, sponsors and venues continue to be added to what might just be the future of auto racing.

Recently, FIA officials and representatives from the city of Long Beach announced that round seven of the championship will be held on the iconic street course. The Long Beach ePrix will take place on April 4, 2015 and will form one of 10 races taking place in city-centers across the globe.

"Long Beach is proud to be among the elite group of international cities hosting the FIA Formula E Championship," said Mayor Bob Foster, who is a long-time electric vehicle owner and recognised expert on energy issues. He added: "The Long Beach ePrix will bring a new generation of race fans to the iconic streets of Long Beach."

Organizers also confirmed that the Long Beach race will be one of two that forms part of the championship’s Legacy Program , which provides free access to fans, with a focus on attracting school and university students from the nearby area. The idea behind this is to appeal to a new generation of motorsport fans and promote the electric vehicle industry.

“We are very thankful to Mayor Bob Foster and all the city authorities for their warm reception here today and for welcoming the new all-electric FIA Formula E Championship to Long Beach as hosts of round seven," Alejandro Agag, Formula E CEO, said. "They all share our passion for not only motorsport but for promoting sustainable mobility, and I have every confidence that the people of Long Beach and Southern California are going to experience a revolutionary, and of course very exciting, new racing event come April 2015. The goal of Formula E is to showcase the true potential of electric vehicles and to inspire people to believe in these cars for their own personal use.”

Formula E's 10 teams have already been confirmed and feature some of the leading names in motorsport including two from the US - Michael Andretti’s Andretti Autosport and Jay Penske’s Dragon Racing.

Mahindra Racing recently announced that Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna will join the team for the inaugural season of the FIA Formula E Championship. Neither Chandhok nor Senna are strangers to the international racing scene, having both competed in Formula One.

“Both Karun and Bruno come with very strong racing pedigrees and have successfully competed in a variety of racing series over the past few years," S P Shukla, Chairman of Mahindra Racing, said. "The entire team looks forward to working with both of them to optimise the performance of our racing car over the next few months of testing before the start of racing in September this year.”

Representing the only Indian team in Formula E, Chennai-born Chandhok and Brazilian Senna bring with them a strong working relationship, having already raced as team-mates previously in their careers.

“Karun and Bruno both represent the perfect balance between experience and youthful enthusiasm for this truly ground breaking championship," Mahindra Racing Team Principal Dilbagh Gill said. "I am confident they will do their best to represent Mahindra on the world stage and the entire team is aiming for top results from the start of the championship.”

US Formula E team Andretti Autosport also announced that they signed Frenchman Franck Montagny to compete in the inaugural all-electric FIA Formula E Championship. With a diverse and extensive racing resume, Montagny becomes the first driver announced for Michael Andretti's two-car Formula E assault.

Although both are new to Formula E for its debut season, the relationship between Andretti and Montagny dates back to 2008 when Montagny competed in the ALMS series with Andretti Autosport, he then returned to the team in 2009 for the IndyCar Series and again for the 2014 Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

"It is a great honour to be racing again with Andretti Autosport and Michael Andretti." said Montagny. "I worked a great deal with the team in 2008 and 2009, and again this year, and working together on this new electric challenge will be exciting. I am convinced that this new fully-electric technology in the automotive industry will become a very important characteristic of our day-to-day lives in the future, and this high-level racing competition will very quickly bring new technical developments just as Formula One did in the past for everyday automobiles."

In addition to his resume with Andretti Autosport, Montagny boasts 12 starts at the historic Le Mans 24 with four-podium finishes, in addition to five years of Formula One experience with seven grands prix starts.

“We’re delighted to welcome Franck Montagny to the FIA Formula E Championship," Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E, added. "Franck becomes our seventh driver to join the series alongside Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi at Audi Sport Abt, Jaime Alguersuari and Sam Bird at Virgin Racing and Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna at Mahindra Racing – with plenty more top-level drivers still to be announced.”

The Long Beach street circuit is the longest running in the US beginning in 1975 and hosted Formula One from 1976 to 1983 before staging annual CART, Champ Car and IndyCar races. During the press conference, the exact track layout was also revealed which will see the Formula E cars use a modified configuration to the regular IndyCar circuit. At 1.6 miles (2.1km) in length and featuring seven turns, the Formula E cars will use the same iconic start/finish line adjacent to the Marina before heading off in a clockwise direction past the Rainbow Lagoon. They will then turn right onto South Pine Avenue before re-joining with the more familiar track configuration. The cars will then pass around the grounds of the Convention Centre before a final right-hand hairpin brings them back across the start/finish line.

“Long Beach is one of the most iconic city tracks in the world," added driver Lucas di Grasi. "This is the perfect place for Formula E to showcase innovation and sustainability."

Formula E is the FIA’s new fully-electric single-seater championship designed to appeal to a new generation of motorsport fans, whilst accelerating the interest in electric vehicles and promoting sustainability. Racing entirely on temporary city-centre race tracks, it uses cars capable of speeds in excess of 150mph (225kph). The first of 10 races takes place in Beijing around the iconic Olympic ‘Bird’s Nest’ Stadium with the season finale taking place in London on June 27 2015.

"The city races are going to be a great spectacle and the quality of teams and drivers should ensure some fantastic racing,” added Mahindra Racing's Karun Chandhok.

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