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back to article F1? No, it's Formula E as electric racing cars hit the track

Electric motorsport is finally getting some of the attention given its internal combustion engine brother with the first day of testing of the new Formula E taking place at Donington Park Racing Circuit in Derby. It will be a while before we see an actual race in the UK, though. That’s not going to be until 27 June 2015, and …

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I enjoyed the British Grand Prix yesterday, but I couldn't care less about milk float racing.

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So how many laps can these Milk Floats make before they KO themselves out with a +16h recharge? Or does "Formula E" have the means to replace not only flat Tires, but the Batteries too?

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they could build wireless charging into the tracks and then they'd never need to stop to refuel.

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Battery Times

Each car can go around 25 minutes on a full charge at race speed. Since races are expected to be an hour long, each driver will have 2 cars and swap during pitting(The batteries take 45 min to recharge)

I do realise that i have broken the unwritten reg rule of answering sarcasm with facts, but the truth is motor sport is a great test bed and i am sure energy management and reclamation will become an important part of the racing which hopefully will filter down to normal cars.

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Rob
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So you are basically proposing a real life size version of Scalextric, can the drivers stand by the side of the track with a trigger controller ;-)

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Joke

Dodging the issue...

A metal pole on the back and some chicken wire over the track and they're sorted.

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The whole point of the life sized option is that you can get into the cars!

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"So how many laps can these Milk Floats make before they KO themselves out with a +16h recharge?"

Probably many more miles than a top fuel drag racer can do before a complete engine rebuild.

And those sprinters... can't do ten miles at that speed, can they? Totally useless sport then, isn't it?

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Re: Battery Times

I'm told they change over whole vehicles in MotoGP (changing the back tire on a bike is a clart?) so there's precedent for full-vehicle pit-stops.

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Screw wireless lets build big Scalextric

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they could build wireless charging into the tracks and then they'd never need to stop to refuel.

I had that when I was a kid, it was called Scalextric

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Re: How many laps?

IIRC they have 2 cars per driver and swap them over half way through..

So maybe around 60-80 miles per car

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Re: Battery Times

Each car can go around 25 minutes on a full charge at race speed. Since races are expected to be an hour long, each driver will have 2 cars and swap during pitting(The batteries take 45 min to recharge)

Assuming this is the case... Then when can we expect Tesla to implement this tech into their Cars?

Since your so hot up on facts... Fact is Hydrogen is the cheapest & cleanest plus fastest Tech we have today.... So why not push this instead?

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The pit stops will be quite fast as long as they don't lose the little bit of red ribbon - otherwise they will need to have a man with a special F1 biro-cap.

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"I enjoyed the British Grand Prix yesterday"

You're one of the few then. I gave up on F1 years ago, just a tedious procession round and round in a circle with hardly any passing due to most of the tracks not being designed for open wheel racing where even the slightest touch means you're off. Compare that to touring cars where bump and grind is the order of the day. F1 is an utter snoozefest. And now you don't even get a decent sound from the cars with the new hybrid engines - they sound like bad tempered lawn mowers.

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Re: Battery Times

"Fact is Hydrogen is the cheapest & cleanest plus fastest Tech we have today"

Pity it's efficiency is on a par with an electric powered steam engine.

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scalectrix

Thems were the days!!

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Re: scalectrix

In order to do a 20 minute race in my race car, I had to install a larger fuel tank. (at about 10mpg)

So 25 minutes in one of these is plenty. The vast majority of races are less than that.

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Anonymous Coward

+1 for Touring Cars

Much, much, much more enjoyable to watch. It's just a shame the races are hidden away on ITV76 or whatever channel they're on. If the BBC ditched F1 completely and put their resources into covering the Touring Cars in the same way everyone would be a winner.

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Re: Battery Times

You have solved the problem of generating the hydrogen from non fossil fuels?

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Re: Battery Times

That is indeed true but they only do to change onto a "wet" bike i.e. when it starts pissing it down and they need bikes with wets and a wet setup.

It also used to be the case that F1 teams had a spare car that they could use if a car were badly damaged.

I don't know why this story brought El Reg's churls out in force but I see no reason why this couldn't be a genuinely interesting formula. I'll make my judgement when I see the first race and I shall look forward to it.

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You have shown that you nothing about F1 then.

I have been watching F1 avidly since I was 6 (I'm now in my 50s) and the Bahrain GP this year was one of the most exciting races I have ever seen. It is also idiotic to talk about "bump and grind" at 200 mph. F1 cars have never routinely bumped each other because it's extremely dangerous in an open wheel car.

F1 has always been and remains the pinnacle of motorsport. Touring cars, not so much.

You are right about the noise though.

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Re: +1 for Touring Cars

Yup. Touring car is proper track car racing. Unfortunately it doesn't have the bling bling and primadonas of F1 so the TV companies arn't interested. Still, F1 is slowly disappearing up its own arse with its dull racing, constant absurd rule changes and personality free drivers and people are voting with their remote controls. Silverstone was on at the same time as the wimbledon mens final and the Tour de France yesterday and I'll lay good money on its viewing figures being a distant 3rd out of the 3 of them.

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"was one of the most exciting races I have ever seen"

Well I didn't see it , but whenever I've seen "exciting" clips from F1 its usually the sort of thing that happens all the time elsewhere, not once in 2 hours.

"It is also idiotic to talk about "bump and grind" at 200 mph."

Nascar manage it. But then they're closed wheel.

"F1 cars have never routinely bumped each other because it's extremely dangerous in an open wheel car."

Err, thats kind of what I said. And thats what makes open wheel racing so tedious IMO.

"F1 has always been and remains the pinnacle of motorsport. "

*snort* Yeah , right. Maybe 30 years ago. Now its just profligate self obsessed bling circus that just happens to involve cars. The racing is dull, the cars are dull and the drivers are dull and some of the races - eg monaco - are just a pointless farce. They're not a race, they're an event for the glitterati to be seen at.

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Motor racing is a NON CONTACT SPORT.

It much too fecking dangerous for it to be anything else. Already we have drivers who grew up with that heap of crap that is BTCC crashing in to each other because they think its OK. It really isn't. The bad example set by BTCC will eventually result in someone getting killed, because of "it was OK in BTCC so I thought it was OK in FFord" syndrome.

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Vic
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Motor racing is a NON CONTACT SPORT.

You've not seen Anthony Reid drive[1], then?

Already we have drivers who grew up with that heap of crap that is BTCC crashing in to each other because they think its OK

I caught the tail end of a Touring Car race on telly the other day - it appears that the BTCC are clamping down on contact. Which is as it should be - it's supposed to be a demonstration of skill, not a test of armour...

"it was OK in BTCC so I thought it was OK in FFord"

Thankfully, open-wheel contact is usually expensive[2] enough that drivers tend to avoid it long before they get to the super-high speeds where they might consider it profitable

Vic

[1] Particularly when there are flint walls around.

[2] I caught up with an old friend the other day - he rented out his Jedi this year. The bloke that rented it crashed on his first race, taking the car out for the rest of the season while it had a £14K rebuild...

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Re: Battery Times

Nice to see a couple of facts. I wonder why they don't make a battery change part of the pit stop rather than changing car. This would make the race a better model for the real world and add a bit of impetus to the drive for quick battery swap technology.

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"Motor racing is a NON CONTACT SPORT."

Says who? You?

"It much too fecking dangerous for it to be anything else"

Oh well, I guess banger racing should be banned immediately then!

"that heap of crap that is BTCC"

You mean that heap of crap that actually has proper racing rather than cars following each other round in a tedious procession with passing only done in the first 10 seconds from the start and during pit stops? If I want to watch a train I'll go to a station.

"OK in FFord"

Formula Ford? What a fucking joke. Go karts with a flash paint job.

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Re: Battery Times

It also may lead to more efficient motors which will help with the range of normal electrics just as much as higher density batteries.

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Re: It also may lead to more efficient motors

No, it may not. Electric motors are pretty much lossless already. And no, that's not because huge efforts have been poured into their development, it's because electricity is something called "free energy" (well pretty close anyway). Google it.

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good idea

yes!

you could do this by putting two metal strips down the middle of the track.

you could even put a groove between them to help the cars keep onto the line.

maybe you'd need a pair of the strips, one on each side of the track.

hmm.. reminds me of something i've got at home in fact

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FAIL

Re: How many laps?

Can't even do a full race distance - pathetic.

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Meh

just a tedious procession round and round in a circle with hardly any passing

That hasn't been true for at least a couple of years now. DRS and a reduction in aero grip means that there's quite a bit of overtaking and close racing. Not as much as in closed wheel racing, true, but probably as much as there ever has been in F1. If you've ever liked F1 you'll probably like it now.

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super scalextric?

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Paris Hilton

Drag racing?

Of course drag racing is a totally useless sport.

So is synchronised swimming and running a marathon when you could take the bus...

As for football - well surely the goalkeepers and the whole opposing team could help the ball into their own net to get the game over quickly so they could get on with doing something a bit more useful?

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Re: Battery Times

Sadly electric motors and batteries are all up on the 90% plus efficiency range.

What is missing is a high energy density battery, and those are already approaching the limits of lithium, and lithium is, in the periodic table, the best element there is.

Even lithium air, where at least some of the weight is in the atmosphere to begin with, is only just able to match a tank of hydrocarbon fuel.

And the technology is massively difficult to deploy.

Storing electrical energy efficiently and without a weight penalty is a huge problem which if we could crack it, would transform a lot of things.

Aircraft for example, only fly because of the energy density of hydrocarbon fuel...

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Way to farm the downvotes. Hopefully advances made here will filter into other cars.

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Def
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Yeah, I wish my car had a more efficient downvote collector. ;)

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I was wondering if the relative quiet of e-vehicles might detract from the appeal, but from the video they sound a bit like distant jet engines.

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I think the noise will be missed at first, but the higher acceleration will make up for it in appeal.

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Which means these cars could be out-paced by my 1991 bike

Until you arrive at the first corner that is. These things are designed like F1 for high cornering downforce, they'll leave you for dead on a twisty race circuit.

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Your 1991 bike was around 100 years after the advent of the internal combustion engine (if not significantly more?)

Give 'em a bloody chance!

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phat soundz

I was wondering if the relative quiet of e-vehicles might detract from the appeal

I guess they didn't fit the cigarette cards in the wheels yet

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"Give 'em a bloody chance!"

I think they've had ample bloody chance, given that the earliest semi-practical electric cars date back to the same years as the earliest semi-practical ICE vehicles, between 1880 and 1890.

I'm not sure how road car technology will be enhanced by having a dull race* between identical ultra-light non-road electric cars, where the drivers leap into another car when the battery goes flat? As much as anything, to spur innovation you need variety, but with single suppliers this smells like a bit of window dressing for Renault. And then there's the fact that EV's are all about the battery - energy density, cost, durability, and speed to charge - with 130 years of battery development still not offering much benefit, I can't see that a token bit of pretend racing will do anything. They'd be better off instead of spending the money custom building some undoubtedly expensive F1 lookalikes putting the money into fundamental research by blokes in white coats.

* Formula 1 is dull enough already - imagine it with quieter, slower cars with lower endurance.

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acceleration..

Actually peak power is not an issue with electric. Many model plane fliers are happy to flatten their batteries in 2 minutes flat to get astounding power to weight ratios and top speeds.

If you compare power train weights and power outputs fuel is about the same.

Energy density is the killer. Its simply carp (anag.) for batteries. Not power density.

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Well you could argue that F1 is perceived as dull due to the disparity of the cars meaning that it is less down to driver skill and more down to team finances.

Anyway this is the 1st year. Car differences will largely be restricted to aerodynamic tweaks, althogh I can see energy management being a big factor. The next year, rules will be relaxed allowing for more differentiation in the various cars.

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the noise

James Allen's F1 blog had some more info on Formula E.

Apparently, they're going to have fake noise to make the cars go 'vroom vroom' as well as music. And there will be a social media element where you tweet for your favourite driver and the guy with most votes gets an extra power-up.

You might think I am joking, but sadly I am not.

Electric car racing is a nice idea, unfortunately they seem to have hired some silicon roundabouters to brainstorm making it appeal to 'da kidz'. And as a result, it will end up as cringeworthy shite.

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Benefits from racing..

I can only half agree that its a waste of time.

What will filter through into road uses eventually will be batteries that can be fast charged and discharged, better energy recovery systems and ultimately better batteries.

Two things stand between now and widespread adoption of electric road cars, range and cost.

Range will always be a problem with BEVs as even the theoretical best energy density of lithium ion simply isn't good enough and lithium air is so early in the development stage its uncertain as to whether a safe cheap battery will ever be made using that technology.

Cost should come down as production engineering gets under way. Lithium is not expensive nor any of the materials involved and they are more or less recyclable. So te gig issue is range and how that can be extended by energy recovery and as good as it gets battery design and also by developments into faster charging.

Right now the majority of road trips are short and a BEV should make an ideal 'second car' for those that can organise off street charging. Overnight charging at 3KW levels - or more with an adapted circuit - is enough for about 100 miles/day or a potential 35,000 miles a year car.

Personally if a BEV was economic lifetime wise over a fuel car I'd get one for the shorter trips. The performance is JUST good enough for that: What holds me back is cost.

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Re: the noise

And there will be a social media element where you tweet for your favourite driver and the guy with most votes gets an extra power-up.

Sounds like a real life Kerwhizz

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