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The FIA Formula E series is starting to take shape

The new Formula E car, the Spark-Renault SRT_01E, outside the world-renowned Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
The new Formula E car, the Spark-Renault SRT_01E, outside the world-renowned Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
FIA Formula E

We live in an increasingly environmentally conscience driven world. The radical weather we have been experiencing this winter has helped to draw attention to our changing planet, and the fact that if we don't act soon, the results may be catastrophic. Though fossil fuels are only a part of the problem, the FIA recently announced a new racing series that will undoubtedly redefine motorsports going forward.

Formula E is a new FIA championship which will compete on 10 city-center circuits around the globe including two races in the US – Miami and Los Angeles – which are currently scheduled to take place in the spring of 2015. Ten teams, each with two drivers, will go head-to-head to create a unique and exciting racing series designed to appeal to a new generation of motorsport fan, whilst accelerating the electric vehicle market and promoting sustainability.

On Monday, Jan. 6, Formula E’s new fully-electric race car, the Spark-Renault SRT_01E, made its first ever public demonstration, entertaining crowds with a high-speed display around the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Held in conjunction with the International CES, a global consumer electronics and technology tradeshow, together with Qualcomm Incorporated, one of Formula E’s Founding Partners and the championship’s Technology Partner, the demonstration revealed to the world that racing in fully electric cars has moved from the drawing board to the production line.

“Today is a very special landmark for the FIA Formula E Championship and I’m delighted to be sharing it with Qualcomm and all our partners,” said Alejandro Agag, CEO of series promotes Formula E Holdings. “Since the FIA launched Formula E just over a year ago, the progress and interest in the series has been overwhelming. When we started we had no cities, no teams, no broadcasters and no car. Now we have all these things so to be able to showcase our new car to everyone involved, and of course the fans, is a very proud moment."

Capable of speeds in excess of 150mph, the zero emission single-seater was driven by former Formula One driver Lucas di Grassi and gave invited guests, media and onlookers their first chance to see and hear the cars that will compete in the new FIA Formula E Championship.

“2014 is a very big year for Formula E with the championship starting in September so it’s important to be starting on such a positive note," Agag continued. "Today will also be the first of many roadshows we have planned over the coming months as we want as many people as possible to see, and hear, what we believe is the future of motorsport.”

Originally unveiled to the public in Sept. 2013, the Formula E car has been designed and built by French-based Spark Racing Technology together with a consortium of the leading names in motorsport including Dallara (chassis), Williams (battery design), McLaren (powertrain & electronics), Renault (overall system integration) and Michelin (tires).

“We are excited to show off the new fully-electric FIA Formula E Championship car in action on the Las Vegas Strip,” said Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, Chairman and CEO of Qualcomm Incorporated. “Qualcomm is proud to be a Founding Technology Partner of the FIA Formula E Championship and a part of a global movement towards sustainable living."

Of course, auto racing would not exist in any form if it weren't for corporate sponsorship. As part of the event, the Formula E car was also driven along the famous Las Vegas Strip by Lucas di Grassi under police escort, finishing at the world-famous Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino.

"Caesars Palace has been passionate about auto sports since its early days when it hosted the Caesars Palace Grand Prix,” said Tariq Shaukat, Caesars Entertainment's Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “We are proud to keep at the leading edge of the auto sports industry and technology innovation by partnering as the exclusive casino sponsor with the first-of-its-kind Formula E racing car. This partnership complements our ongoing global environmental efforts and supports the company's focus of leveraging technology to enhance the overall guest experience at our many entertainment destinations worldwide."

Until we develop a fully-automated racing series, no form of auto racing can work without people who are willing to put their lives on the line and drive the cars. On Tuesday, Jan. 7, the FIA Formula E Championship revealed the first eight drivers to show their support for the new fully-electric race series by signing up to its official Formula E Drivers’ Club.

”We’re delighted to be starting the New Year, which of course is a very important one for Formula E, on such a positive note by announcing our new Drivers’ Club,” said Alejandro Agag, CEO of series promoters Formula E Holdings. “From the very beginning, we have set out to deliver great racing to fans across the globe and to do that you need high calibre drivers. Now that we’ve announced all 10 teams, everyone is keen to find out who the drivers will be. Of course, we cannot confirm any drivers just yet as it will be down to the individual teams to select who fills their seats. However, we hope by offering them a ‘pool’ of top international drivers to choose from – all of whom support the new series – we can deliver on this promise of providing close, entertaining racing in city-centres around the world. We also hope it will showcase to fans, TV broadcasters and potential sponsors the high profile names Formula E is attracting and the level of drivers they can expect to see race come September.”

Sebastien Buemi, Marco Andretti, Karun Chandhok, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Adrien Tambay, Ma Qing Hua, Lucas di Grassi and Takuma Sato have all committed to the new scheme, giving their official endorsement to the championship together with their willingness to race in the future. Of the first eight names, Switzerland’s Sebastien Buemi, Indian driver Karun Chandhok, Italy’s Vitantonio Liuzzi, Lucas di Grassi from Brazil and Japanese driver Takuma Sato have all previously raced in Formula One, while China’s Ma Qing Hua has been a test driver for both HRT and Caterham F1. Meanwhile, USA racer Marco Andretti – son of the legendary Michael Andretti – is one of IndyCar’s top drivers finishing fifth in 2013, while Frenchman Adrien Tambay has raced in Formula 3, GP3, Formula Renault 3.5 and more recently DTM.

“This revolutionary racing series, paired with some of the world’s best drivers, competing in top cities, will set a new standard for motorsport" stated IndyCar racer Marco Andretti. "The advanced technology is exciting. I’m not entirely sure what to expect but, for me, that is the most interesting part of this experience – the unknown factor. I’m looking forward to the growth and development of Formula E and am happy to be named as part of the Drivers’ Club. I’m really looking forward to getting into the cockpit of one of these cars.”

It will be interesting to see what this new series brings to the world of motorsports, and how it affects the other major racing programs worldwide.

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