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 …

  1. Pisartis
    Thumb Down

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

    1. Michael Habel Silver badge

      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?

      1. James 51 Silver badge

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

        1. Rob

          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 ;-)

          1. James 51 Silver badge

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

        2. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
          Joke

          Dodging the issue...

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

        3. Natalie Gritpants

          Screw wireless lets build big Scalextric

        4. big_D Silver badge

          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

        5. Caaaptaaaain kick arse

          scalectrix

          Thems were the days!!

          1. James Hughes 1

            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.

        6. nobby

          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

        7. itzman

          super scalextric?

      2. hammarbtyp Silver badge

        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.

        1. WraithCadmus

          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.

          1. lotus49

            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.

        2. Michael Habel Silver badge

          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?

          1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

            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.

          2. catprog

            Re: Battery Times

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

        3. RichardF

          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.

          1. monkeyfish

            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.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              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.

            2. itzman

              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...

      3. Psyx

        "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?

        1. itzman
          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?

      4. itzman

        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

        1. druck Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: How many laps?

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

      5. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        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.

    2. boltar

      "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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. boltar

          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.

      2. lotus49

        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.

        1. boltar

          "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.

          1. James Hughes 1

            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.

            1. Vic

              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...

            2. boltar

              "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.

      3. AndrueC Silver badge
        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.

  2. James 51 Silver badge

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

    1. Def Silver badge

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

  3. LaeMing Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    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.

    1. Ole Juul

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

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Steve Todd

          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.

          1. Dazed and Confused

            Bikes and corners

            I remember back in the 70's reading a review in something like Autocar or Motor where they pitched the new Honda CBX inline 6 cylinder bike against the an Aston Martin Vantage, the bike was miles ahead at the first corner, just ahead at the end of lap 1 and then disappeared after that and no one ever accused the Vantage of being particularly good at corners. A Bugatti Veyron might beat one of these to the first corner, but after that it wouldn't see which way this thing went.

        2. DanDanDan

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

          Give 'em a bloody chance!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "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.

            1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

              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.

            2. itzman

              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.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Benefits from racing..

                And just where is all the energy going to come from to charge millions of electric vehicles at 3KW each for hours on end? (Hint: it certainly won't be solar or wind!)

                Moron

              2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: Benefits from racing..

                "Range will always be a problem with BEVs"

                Range isn't an issue if the things can charge quickly. Smaller motorbikes frequently have sub-100mile range on a tankful and noone complains (much) about that, because it's only a few mins to fill-er-up.

                The real winners for BEVs will be range extension (think generator on a trailer) for the occasional trip and faster charging technology - As long as the costs are brought down.

            3. Psyx

              "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."

              Yes, and they've had over a 100 years of highly competitive development, just like petrol engines, making your comparison completely legitimate and fair. Or.... not.

              "I'm not sure how road car technology will be enhanced by having a dull race* between identical ultra-light non-road electric cars"

              The article did state that this year the cars were single-marque, but that was likely to change. As it moves towards a multi-marque series the development will come, just as it does in every other top-flight Formula.

              "with 130 years of battery development still not offering much benefit"

              Oh, so Li-ion doesn't have an energy density 5 times higher than lead-acid or nickel-cadmium, then; more than doubling in capacity in the last 20 years. It's come quite a long way.

              "I can't see that a token bit of pretend racing will do anything."

              If you think it's 'pretend' because you don't need ear defenders and every driver is competing in an equal vehicle, then you're clearly not much of a motorsport fan. The only 'pretend' racing I've seen is celebrities 'racing' their Ferraris. Your opinion of the Series is about as useful as mine on the England kickball squad.

              How does not making noise have a bearing on the quality of racing?

              "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."

              They don't look anything like F1 cars any more than spitfires look like DH Mosquitos. They look like single-seater Formula cars and that's about where the similarities end.

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

              So... you really are commenting on a relative to a sport that you are already utterly uninterested in.

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. itzman

          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.

    2. 's water music Silver badge

      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

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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.

      1. 's water music Silver badge

        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

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: the noise

        I'm picturing a meeting where it was proposed that all the drivers have an xbox and race each other online and the crowd get an occulas-VR helmet to watch the cars zoom past .

        1. James Hughes 1

          Re: the noise @ledswinger

          What a crock of shite Mr Ledswinger.

          Please don't bother commenting on something you don't know or care about..

          Hold on, this is the Reg isn't it? Not HYS or the Daily Fail? Or, worst of all, YT comments

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: cringeworthy shite

        One word: A1 Grand Prix

        Remember that?

        LOL

  4. lupine

    i appreciate the technical challenge but can't see them serving up as much spectacle

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Can't be any more dull than F1.

      The best racing is often in the slower cars, touring cars and even the 2CV racing :)

      1. 's water music Silver badge

        livening things up

        Can't be any more dull than F1.

        You order the hookers, I'll hire the Nazi fancy dress!

    2. itzman

      ... can't see them serving up as much spectacle

      Never watched Formula Ford or Ginetta racing? With less power overall the aero has to be reduced and that means slipstreaming becomes the way to get past... and it is a lot less processional than F1 can be.

    3. Psyx

      "i appreciate the technical challenge but can't see them serving up as much spectacle"

      Why not?

      I am clearly missing something, because I can't in any way see how not making much noise makes them less fun to watch. Would tennis be less tense and exciting if people stopped grunting?

  5. Alan Gauton

    "On the first day of testing, the fastest driver was Sebastien Buemi, who raced Formula 1 for Toro Rosso, the Red Bull test team that's leading LMP1-H."

    That's a bit mangled. He drove for Toro Rosso in F1, who are owned by Red Bull, but aren't really a test team - junior, maybe, and certainly nothing to do with LMP1-H.

    "it has been a long time since we saw Orange and Vodafone as big name sponsors"

    Oh, a whole 7 months since Vodafone were a big name sponsor - not exactly a long time.

    1. /\/\j17

      Yep, really confused by the reference to LMP1-H (Le Mans Prototype class 1, Hybrid sub-class) which is currently being contested by Audi, Porsche and Toyota in the FIA/ACO World Endurance Championship.

      Nissan, who are due to join the LMP1-H class next year were running a hybrid at this years Le Mans 24hr race that managed to do a whole lap on battery power (this is grown-up racing where a laps' 13.6km and at night-time it gets dark but the drivers just keep driving at 205mph - though was 250mph in the 80's, rather than requiring more lights than a million Christmas trees).

      None of the above have any direct links to either Buemi or Red Bull that spring to mind though. Closest I can think of is that Mark Webber is now driving the Porsche LMP1-H and used to drive for the Infinity Red Bull F1 team.

      1. Alan Gauton

        Buemi drives for one of the Toyota LMP1-H cars. Still not Toro Rosso though. :-)

    2. YetAnotherLocksmith

      I too am confused - plus Virgin Mobile can clearly be seen as a car sponsor on the video!

  6. LaeMing Silver badge

    Hmmmm

    One interesting side-effect of wireless charging pads might be more people actually learning/bothering to park the proper distance from the curb and/or between the lines! And not on the *&$*& footpath!

    1. Fink-Nottle

      Re: Hmmmm

      Wireless charging pads will, no doubt, present ample opportunities for antisocial behaviour - especially as your e-car will be left unattended for extended periods. For example, what's to stop someone interposing their own charging pad between your car and the ground pad?

      1. joeW

        Re: Hmmmm

        Not a lot - same as there's not a lot stopping someone from emptying your tank of petrol with a siphon, but thet's still a bit of a rare occurence.

        1. DanDanDan

          Re: Hmmmm

          "there's not a lot stopping someone from emptying your tank of petrol with a siphon, but that's still a bit of a rare occurence."

          Uh... what? A lot of them have locks on these days. In addition to anti-siphon systems. And alarm systems that will probably go off... Have you tried it lately?

          1. Psyx
            Pint

            Re: Hmmmm

            "Have you tried it lately?"

            No.

            I should update my skill-set.

            Where do you park?

            1. DanDanDan

              Re: Hmmmm

              "Where do you park?"

              Nice try, but my tank barely ever has more than £15 worth of petrol in it (that's a full tank by the way).

          2. d3vy

            Re: Hmmmm

            If you can get under the can you should be able to drain the fuel tank without unlocking it...

            1. Psyx

              Re: Hmmmm

              Yup: I don't lock my filler cap any more since it was such an inconvenience to someone that they just knocked a hole in my tank to get at the fuel instead.

          3. MikeOxlong
            Mushroom

            The well manner fuel thief

            Where there's a will there's a way.

            The last time I had my ear to the ground on this subject, the scumbags were jamming a screwdriver in your fueltank and catching it with a funnel to a fuelcan or four.

            They don't aim it at the bottom of the tank, maybe about halfway.

            The point was that they didn't care if you had to spend several hundred pounds to replace the tank, when they just got away with a few ££/$$'s worth of fuel for their own P.O.S or crappy van.

            1. Psyx

              Re: The well manner fuel thief

              That's exactly what happened to me. So now the cap is unlocked so they can help themselves, and there's never more than 20 quid's worth in.

  7. Volker Hett
    Pint

    What I like most in Formula E is that they change cars midrace when the batteries are down :)

    Imagine a caravanserai every 50 miles where you can change cars instead of recharging batteries ....

    1. DanDanDan

      This could actually alleviate many of the problems with short battery life and long charge times. I had the idea of just using plug-n-play batteries, that you trade in at petrol stations; but then found out almost the whole car is made of battery. However, something like a hire-car scheme where you can pick up a car at a charge point and drop it off at one closer to your destination: that just might work.

      1. d3vy

        @DanDanDan

        If you're going to do that you might as well get a train or a bus...

        1. itzman

          ...might as well get a train or a bus...

          Well yes an that actually points to the way in which if you have to do transport without carbon based fuels, you go about it.

          BEV from house to station, plug it in and get on electric train, fare including car at the far end.

          Use the BEVs for the 'last 50 miles'

          WE already have motorways built: convert them to train tracks.

  8. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    Our friends electric

    I had a sneaky look at the cars at the recent test day. I don't think many hard core F1 fans will be won over, but I do think it has an excellent chance of winning new fans to motorsport.

    Anyway here are my thoughts after the day

    http://hammarbytp.blogspot.com/2014/07/formula-e.html

    and a few more piccies

    http://photographyformortals.blogspot.com/2014/07/our-friends-electric.html

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Our friends electric

      "I don't think many hard core F1 fans will be won over,"

      But Formula E seems more like Formula Renault at the moment, and few informed enthusiasts would compare F-Renault with F1. This is just another form of motor racing at the moment, though one that looks to become increasingly important. Chances are this is the area of motor vehicles where the most rapid technological advances will come, and for that reason it should be welcomed.

    2. Andres

      Re: Our friends electric

      The part I really liked was the fact that the cars will be identical, for the first year anyway. I would much rather watch the drivers battle it out using driving skill rather than some also having the benefit of a faster car.

    3. Psyx

      Re: Our friends electric

      "I don't think many hard core F1 fans will be won over"

      No, but then nothing will. Just as a hardcore Manchester Utd. fan doesn't watch much local footie and 3rd division matches.

      Most hardcore F1 fans don't really follow much other motorsport, in my experience. It's the poster-boy of motorsport and many people don't dive any further into the world.

  9. jake Silver badge

    Are electric cars really usefull?

    Where does the energy come from?

    Who has to deal with the pollution involved in production of both parts & energy?

    Can I do a 680 mile round-trip in one day? (Me, today, Sonoma to Solvang & back).

    What is the cost of recycling once the various bits are b0rked?

    Bottom line: This technology hasn't really been thought out thoroughly.

    1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

      Re: Are electric cars really usefull?

      Hopefully Formula E will be used to address some of these issues in the same way we have seen a trickle down of technologies from things like Formula 1.

      Maybe not in the 1st year, but when the formula rules are loosened up, we will likely see teams bring in innovations which can later be applied to real world vehicles.

      After all it is only by pushing the envelope that we progress.

    2. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: Are electric cars really usefull?

      Many of the same arguments were used against cars v horses when they first came out.

    3. Terry Barnes

      Re: Are electric cars really usefull?

      "Bottom line: This technology hasn't really been thought out thoroughly."

      Bottom line: Thorough answers to all these questions exist, you've either incapable or have chosen not to find them for yourself. Your not thinking something through properly does not mean that other people haven't.

    4. Psyx

      Re: Are electric cars really usefull?

      Sounding like a stuck records there, commenting on all-electric road cars on an article about a sport.

      "Bottom line: This technology hasn't really been thought out thoroughly."

      As opposed to "let's power this vehicle by fitting it with its own explosion-maker, put twenty gallons of highly flammable liquid in it, design it to go four times faster than a race horse but not put in any form of seatbelts, crash protection, or design it to go around corners very well"? Yet the modern car has got pretty good over the last 100 years.

      Let's not invent anything ever again, because prototypes aren't great.

    5. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Are electric cars really usefull?

      > Where does the energy come from?

      Generally the sun, although nuclear fission (i.e. previous generation stars) is a good source as well. Interestingly of course the energy comes from large static engines which can have emissions monitored and or reduced by scrubbing tech - which would instantly retroactively apply to all vehicles on the road/track.

      > Who has to deal with the pollution involved in production of both parts & energy?

      This is different in what way to other fuels? Of course the death rate from digging up oil is quite high. The parts are fairly simple, the battery technology is kind of the point of this sort of endeavour.

      > Can I do a 680 mile round-trip in one day? (Me, today, Sonoma to Solvang & back).

      Yes you can, although probbaly not in one of these, but then you couldn't do that in an F1 car either.

      > What is the cost of recycling once the various bits are b0rked?

      Not too bad - the batterries will last a fair while (although obviously less in the performance oriented formula than in the real world). I think Tesla reckon on 8-10 years in the cars before they degrade to 80%

      Then they can be grid level storage (UPS for your house) for a decade, and then some 98% of the materials are economically recovered.

      > Bottom line: This technology hasn't really been thought out thoroughly.

      New bottom line - you haven't grasped the point, or looked at the tech lifecycle.

    6. William Gallafent

      Re: Are electric cars really usefull?

      “Can I do a 680 mile round-trip in one day?” — yes. Range of Tesla Model S with 85kWh battery is 300 miles, and you could easily pick up the necessary extra 40 miles of range in each direction by charging during rest stops. Looks pretty well thought out.

    7. Anonymous Blowhard

      Re: Are electric cars really usefull?

      "Where does the energy come from?"

      If it's France then these suckers are nuclear powered!

      No-one really thought out the whole hydrocarbon fuel deal either; especially the numerous wars we've had in order to secure supplies, so let's not pooh-pooh the idea of electric racing on the basis of pollution.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Are you a friend of Dorothy, jake?

      'cos that was a Strawman if I ever saw one.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Are electric cars really usefull?

      Bottom Line: Jake is an idiot who thinks that 34mpg on the motorway is perfectly reasonable

    10. Steve Todd

      Re: Are electric cars really usefull?

      Take a look at the Vauxhall Ampera/ Chevy Volt. It's got a 50 mile range on pure electric, but also has a small petrol engine to generate power when the battery gets low, giving it a 320 mile range on a tank of fuel. Short to medium term that fixes your problem of range, and most people drive less than 50 miles per day so will use little or no petrol. It's also quite lively, with a 150PS motor and a sub 9 second 0-62MPH time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Are electric cars really usefull?

        "Take a look at the Vauxhall Ampera"

        And take a look at its price tag of around £34k for a car the size of an Astra. You've got to be a rich eco-warrior to be able to afford one.

        1. AceRimmer

          Re: Are electric cars really usefull?

          "And take a look at its price tag of around £34k for a car the size of an Astra. You've got to be a rich eco-warrior to be able to afford one."

          You need to offset the price against the potential fuel savings.

          You can get a used one for about £20k

          They are a bit bigger than an Astra, more like an Insignia

        2. Steve Todd
          Stop

          Re: Are electric cars really usefull?

          And take a look at its price tag of around £34k for a car the size of an Astra. You've got to be a rich eco-warrior to be able to afford one.

          Considering that an Astra with roughly equivalent spec (the 2 litre diesel automatic) lists at roughly £24k, and after government rebates the Ampera costs you about £28K, plus the facts that it costs about 1/3-1/4 in fuel, costs you nothing at all in road tax, is exempt from the London Congestion Charge and costs only 5% BiK tax if it's a company car (vs 15% for the most efficient Astra) means that you don't have to work hard at all to justify it as an option.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Are electric cars really usefull?

            "Considering that an Astra with roughly equivalent spec (the 2 litre diesel automatic) lists at roughly £24k,"

            I would contend that nobody actually pays anything like £24k for an Astra, regardless of spec or list price. "I could have an entry level Beemer 3 series, but an Astra diesel sludgematic coffin dodger special edition is a far better investment, and a superior ownership experience". Bwahahahahahahah!

            As for rebates and "lower operating cost", that is certainly true at the moment, but only for a while. If EVs gain any market share government won't be able to cope with the lower revenues, and they'll have to end the ridiculous subsidies, and introduce road pricing or other taxes to raise an average of around £1k per vehicle in taxes that would otherwise disappear. The congestion charge exemption is a similarly time limited subsidy, unless EV's somehow cause less congestion than ICE cars? As soon as London is filled with EVs do you think they'll revoke the congestion charge?

            1. Steve Todd

              Re: Are electric cars really usefull?

              I would contend that nobody actually pays anything like £24k for an Astra, regardless of spec or list price.

              It's not very hard to take the price of the Astra, with options, past £28K. The Beemer may have a list price starting below that, but for that you'll get 4 wheels and an engine. Everything else is an option.

              You chose based in the purchase and running costs NOW, not when the government discovers that there are enough of them on the road to effect their revenue. When there ARE enough of them on the road to have that effect then the economies of mass production will have cut in, and they will be much cheaper to buy.

              The main reason for the congestion charge is to cut pollution levels in Central London, not to do with traffic levels (traffic is actually flowing at the same speed, pretty much, as before the charge as they have introduced traffic calming to slow it down). EVs definitely help there.

              1. James Hughes 1

                FFS

                This was a Jake comment - it's clearly complete shite, and should be simply ignored.

                Have you people learnt NOTHING.

    11. Psyx

      Re: Are electric cars really usefull?

      "Where does the energy come from?"

      It's recycled. All energy is recycled.

      Citation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservation_of_energy

      "Who has to deal with the pollution involved in production of both parts & energy?"

      The same people who deal with the pollution involved in the production of whatever gadgets and consumer goods you buy.

      "Can I do a 680 mile round-trip in one day? (Me, today, Sonoma to Solvang & back)."

      No, because it's A RACING CAR and isn't road legal.

      Last year's F1 cars also couldn't do a 680 mile road trip, either. I guess those petrol engines haven't been thought out well.

      "What is the cost of recycling once the various bits are b0rked?"

      In line with recycling whatever gadgets and consumer goods you buy.

      The difference is that you don't like this technology, but don't see it as a problem when it applies to <insert favoured consumer goods and/or favourite expensive mass-market entertainment>.

  10. Simon Rockman

    Thank you Formula E

    Now that we have a green racing formula we can stop arsing around with fuel, and fuel-flow limits in F1.

    Anyone who cares that much about being green thinks F1 is an abomination anyway and this is just tokenisim, and F1 fans see it as detracting from "hammer time" proper racing.

    I like cars, all kinds of cars. Electric ones, diesel ones, whatever. I expect I will go to the London Formula E race and am tempted by Monaco.

    Simon

    1. Hans 1 Silver badge

      Re: Thank you Formula E

      I down-voted you because I am a tree-hugger on el'reg, not the only one, but one of a few.

      Now, I do not watch F1 anymore, I used to, but back when Schumi was beating 'em all time and time again, I quit - tooo boring, no real opposition.I have not been back since.

      I predict that electric cars will beat F1 cars in about 10 years, if proper investment takes place - even without recharge on the go. Mainly because when you understand physics, leccy engines simply have superior tech -> no gearbox & very light engines, now you can say what you like, that first single fact means leccy is superior. Leccy batteries need to evolve and will with FE, obviously - that is the ONE reason I do not want to see recharge as you go. A lot of cash will flow in the right direction.

      I like cars ... I have a Porsche Boxter, a Peugeot 106, and a BMW Z3; the Boxter gets little use these days, a ride "round the block" (sort of) to keep it in shape every other week. I do not think tree-hugger means "back to the candle" or other such non-sense. What it does mean, though, is that in general, we should strive for renewable everything (energy, resources, packaging), 100% recycling and shit like that (shit that you do not understand). I have fun in my cars, sure, and I think everyone who can afford it should have cars for fun ... I do not use the Boxter to go to work, I work from home. I would love to get the equivalent Boxter, Z3, 106 leccy with better autonomy than the petrol versions ... that will come.

      If we manage to silence the cretins we will end up having 100% renewable, 100% clean energy, to use and waste as we see fit. Take the sun and moon, and you know what kind of energy I am talking about. Wind is nice, but does not cut it ... too unpredictable. We do not use the moon energy ( we do, but so little of it, it is negligible)

      As for recycling, it is far easier to recycle 100% "anything" but nuclear/fusion waste - I know, I'll get downvotes ... mainly because you have no clue.

      Note on Fusion: I am in direct contact with the blokes over at ITER - as I have already said numerous times - and I know all the ins and outs - He6 is required for clean fusion power and we are nowhere near it. I am often talking to one of the main blokes in the Physics dep, and another in Engineering. If you have questions for them, lemme know. If you think a fusion prototype is gonna work before 10-15 years, you are deluded. I am talking "a prototype that sustains operation over a minute" (the tech is below 5 seconds right now - severely energy negative).

      1. Psyx
        Joke

        Re: Thank you Formula E

        "I like cars ... I have a Porsche Boxter, a Peugeot 106, and a BMW Z3;"

        Wow: A genuine petrol-head. You still like cars *despite* owning a French one and two previously owned by hairdressers! ;)

      2. James Micallef Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Thank you Formula E

        @Hans1 - excellent post, I agree with pretty much everything you say... except this "I predict that electric cars will beat F1 cars in about 10 years". It doesn't matter that electric motors can be simpler and more efficient than ICE, the limiting factor is battery weight + range.

        Firstly, even the best batteries right now have much less energy density than petrol. That means that at efficiency parity, battery cars need to lug around multuple times the battery weight as ICE cars need to lug around in the tank. Even considering lower efficiency of ICE, it still means that the battery weight is going to be many times teh fuel weight.

        Secondly, as fuel is burned in an ICE car the weight is lost and the car gets lighter. The battery car can't just eject spent batteries*, and so has to carry around useless weight for much of the race. Of course the ICE car also has to carry around 'excess' weight compared to the electric in form of heavier engine, transmision and many other components that electric does not need, and of course electric can compensate using KERS-type systems to keep batteries as topped-up as possible... but I don't see that balance tipped within 10 years even with a lot of investment in battery tech.

        Nevertheless, the closer we get the better!

        * Or maybe it can? That would lead to some interesting "wacky races" racing, jettisoning used battery packs in the path of the car following you and/or shooting them at the car in front :)

        1. Psyx

          Re: Thank you Formula E

          ""I predict that electric cars will beat F1 cars in about 10 years". It doesn't matter that electric motors can be simpler and more efficient than ICE, the limiting factor is battery weight + range."

          It depends what you mean by 'faster'.

          Faster over a 200 mile race distance... probably not.

          Faster around a given track, or a given corner, or in a sprint race: Probably.

          Electric cars can sit the weight lower in the car (just put the batteries all over the floor layout, as low as possible), which means better handling. They don't need massive radiators meaning they can be a lot more aerodynamically cleaner, which means less drag and potentially greater downforce. You don't need to get air in and out of an engine, which cleans the aero up even more. On paper at least electric can be faster than ICE.

          Fuel might have a lot more J/kg in it than any battery can dream of carrying, but the bit that converts it to makey-the-wheels-go-round energy is a lot heavier and needs cooling, a gearbox and transmission and a lot of other bits. There's a cross-over distance where the speed of fuel+engineandstuff will be better than speed of battery+motors. For example: A two-mile race would see the F1 car carrying 3L of fuel and the same size engine, while the electric car would have a power unit which weighed less in total.

          1. YetAnotherLocksmith

            Re: Thank you Formula E

            No idea which cretin downvoted you.

            Absolutely correct analysis. The only thing that would make it wrong would be charge-as-you-drive. Which might work on a track but it will be hellish in a car you are actually driving, rather than one that trundles along on auto pilot.

            I think of I were forced to drive at 50mph and not even have the ability to change lanes I'd fall asleep - it is bad enough going through the average camera zones!

            1. A Twig

              Re: Thank you Formula E

              Dependant on the rate and efficiency of the wireless charging, they could have an F Zero X style charging lane on the main straight, so drivers have to weigh up the pros and cons of losing some speed on the main straight against the ability to go a couple of laps further?

              Trying to judge if they can make one more lap and maintain their position.

              That'd be awesome seeing the carnage as some drivers on their last few millivolts desperately trying to eke it around the final corner and dive onto the charging zone, while others diving across to the outside to try and overtake them.

    2. Psyx

      Re: Thank you Formula E

      "Now that we have a green racing formula we can stop arsing around with fuel, and fuel-flow limits in F1."

      No we can't. Because car development is the heart of F1, and efficiency is now at the heart of car development.

      1L of fuel weighs down the car to the point where teams don't want to carry it.

      "Anyone who cares that much about being green thinks F1 is an abomination anyway"

      No I don't. But thanks for speaking for me.

      "F1 fans see it as detracting from "hammer time" proper racing."

      No I don't, but thanks for speaking for me.

  11. Simon Rockman

    Oh..

    And the FE cars look a lot better than this year's F1 cars with their ill-thought out safety ideas on nose height. I also like the bigger wheels in FE and it will be interesting to see what comes out of today's F1 tyre tests using 18" wheels.

  12. Matt_payne666

    Its a new sport, Ive grown a little weary of F1 and might give this a look in... hopefully it will get enough coverage and publicity...

    being young and with a one design restriction the racing should be interesting - totally new technology with totally new handling characteristics so it should make for close, unpredictable results...

  13. Alister Silver badge

    Geography!

    Donington Park Racing Circuit in Derby.

    Umm, nope, it's in Leicestershire...

    Ok, it might have a DE postcode, but by no stretch of the imagination could you call it "In Derby"

    1. itzman

      Re: Geography!

      Its in neither. Its in the East Midlands region of the administrative area of the the United kingdom - part of the greater European Socialist Republic.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Geography! - Hang on a minute....

        "part of the greater European Socialist Republic"

        European Socialist Republic = ESR

        ESR = Eric S Raymond.

        I smell conspiracy of enormous magnitude.

        All we need know is a Republic of Merry Socialists and the circumstantial evidence would be overwhelming.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is the sort of thing needed to drive forward the performance of electric cars in terms of efficiency and battery life.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Finally some chance of seeing who's actually the best driver

    Because what we have today in F1 is pretty simple: fastest car wins. In current F1 It is way more exciting to watch a poor car in a top ace driver's hands -such as Alonso with Ferrary- battling better performing cars -such as Vettel with Red Bull- than to follow who's going to win the race, because you know in advance that the answer is "Mercedes", either with Hamilton or Rosberg.

    And even this year we are lucky, Mercedes is allowing its two drivers to actually battle instead of Red Bull's "Vettel comes first" that we've had for the last four years.

    What has bee lost long ago is the "Formula" in F1. The design of the cars has so many constraints that innovation is severely restricted. I'm afraid but E1 will be the same once they break out of the "everybody drives the same car"

    The "Formula" should restrict what can affect safety of the drivers, mechanics or spectators, and nothing else. Give freedom to engineers, mechanics and drivers and it will be way, way more interesting.

    1. Psyx

      Re: Finally some chance of seeing who's actually the best driver

      "Because what we have today in F1 is pretty simple: fastest car wins."

      Can you let me know at what point F1 wasn't about having a fast, competitive car?

      "Alonso with Ferrary"

      Pray share more of your great wisdom and expertise.

      "instead of Red Bull's "Vettel comes first" that we've had for the last four years."

      Vittel was a better driver than Webber. That's why Vittel won more.

      (That and Webber is the prince of bad luck)

      "The design of the cars has so many constraints that innovation is severely restricted."

      Except that when someone innovates and comes up with a race-winning innovation [blown diffusers, or the length-of-engine turbo axle that's giving Mercedes the edge on power output this year]... you don't like it because the fastest car wins! Make your mind up: what do you want?

      "I'm afraid but E1 will be the same once they break out of the "everybody drives the same car"

      The "Formula" should restrict what can affect safety of the drivers, mechanics or spectators, and nothing else. Give freedom to engineers, mechanics and drivers and it will be way, way more interesting."

      Again, you're contradicting yourself: Do you want it to be more about the drivers, or more about development?

  16. Firefox

    Don't underestimate the noise

    I was at the Silverstone qualifying sessions on Saturday. I have to say that I was disappointed by the noise of the new engines.

    The hype, glamour, incidents, weather, results all go together to make a great experience but I can remember the first time I heard an F1 car - Race of Champions inside Wembley Stadium it was immence - I don't remember who was driving, they weren't racing but if they had have been, I wouldn't have remembered who won or how pretty the girls were when the trophies were being handed out ...but I can remember the noise like it was yesterday.

    The screaming engines leave a very powerful sensory memory, I think current F1 will regret the changes that they've inadvertantly made to the sound of F1 in the long term and I think Fomula E will fail to tempt away the bulk of F1 fans especially if, like me, they are already feeling sensory deprivation from the current F1.

    1. Hairy Spod

      Re: Don't underestimate the noise

      Disagree totally about the noise.

      The sound of last years V8's were not a patch on the mega high revving V10's and to be honest both were too loud and detracted from my F1 experiences. I really like the whine of the turbos and engine recovery systems and prefer the overall lower volume of the current engines.

      I do not need ear damage to enjoy my music or my motor racing, just enough sound to give me a clue about what (and how) each of the cars are doing

      The best sounding race cars I have heard to date were at Le Mans in 2012 and they were the quietest diesels which make an amazing pod-racer esk wub wub wub wub sound as they passed. Much quieter and much cooler sounding than the petrol cars on the track. I expect that I would also learn to love the sound of the electrics too.

      1. Psyx

        Re: Don't underestimate the noise

        Agreed. The previous engines had a tiny power band and were being run at ridiculously high revs; basically being wrung like a 16 year old with a 50cc motorbike. It wasn't a nice sound, and they had no torque outside the high rev range.

        The new engines have grunt. You can hear what they're doing and they sound more powerful. I can hear what the tyres and brakes are doing now, too. And what drivers are actually saying.

        Sure: They could have turned up the master volume on the track-side mics earlier in the season and Bernie kicked up a fuss, but Bernie is a dinosaur whose ideas about what makes a good race are based firmly on how many million a host nation is going to pay him.

        You couldn't stand within a hundred yards of the old cars without earplugs in. People watching TV are complaining, but I think they might change their mind if made to sit next to a track without ear protection for two hours!

  17. SW
    Joke

    Phnaar alert

    Shame that Qualcomm used a 2009 registered pair of vehicles for their promo video - a 2006 motor would have provided even more snickering.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    open wheels?

    If they really wanted to push electric cars, I think it would have been better to do a closed wheel formula and make the cars much less draggy. Open wheel racing is a bit of an anachronism really, it only persists in F1 because the rules require it. F1 cars have a horrendous drag coefficient, wheels, struts, etc. and complex wings to give downforce because of the regulations on diffusers and shaped floors.

    Open-wheel racing is a throwback to the days before aerodynamics really took over, where open wheel cars were lighter as a result of having less bodywork.

    It seems the aim has been to make the cars look like F1 cars, whereas they really could have made this a far more relevant series by focusing on design aspects that will make cars more efficient in every respect.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's all about sales

    Formula E is all about trying to convince people that they should purchase impractical EVs which are worthless for anything other than city use. Considering electricity isn't free nor are replacement batteries EVs are not a good choice for 99.999999999999 % of society, despite the sales hype.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's all about sales

      I would think EVs are a great fit for society, given that it's ideal for city use, which happens to be the most common mode of car use.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Changing batteries? Changing Cars?

    They could have thought of changing batteries a la Tesla, by screwing it under the car as a honking plate, instead of changing the whole car.

    Even the pit-stops could specialize in changing the batteries just as fast they change tires today. And perhaps bring back the sparking chassis days of yore. Maybe make it more dangerous, by removing liquid cooling and letting the batteries run almost to a fiery ending and explode or melt like those poor iPhones and Sonys of yesteryear, in the name of making them more power-dense and lighter.

    The excitement of F1 was always in pushing the limits; how far could they push the batteries before they leak, explode or burst into flames? It would surely bring (back) the excitement. There is even room for strategies matching pretty much tire strategy, such as using a heavier battery and make more laps, a smaller battery and less laps, or using 3 sets of batteries instead of 2, the list of ideas goes on and on.

    I'm honestly in favor of Formula E, but I think it should always have a technological progression incentive, anything that can improve the street-legal leccy' car situation.

  21. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    About ten miles from my house is a place that has a Kart loop in the basement in which one may race around on surprisingly nippy electric Karts. It has been there for years.

    So: Not new, not clever.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: Bah!

      Except....this is full size cars, which are quite clever.

      So 0 from 2. Well done.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Recycling...

    "perhaps the most interesting technology in the video here is that which causes someone to get into a car as a young woman and get out as an older man."

    Now, if they can just get it to work the other way around... we can start recycling the over-abundant resource of grumpy old men into something a bit more useful! ;)

  23. 31nst31n

    No Noise...???

    Silent Cars..... what a fantastic opportunity...?

    Why throw in an MP3 player and a couple of very powerful speakers... then chose the POD RACER sound that you want for your car... I Bag-see Sebulba's... then I could shake the bones from the bodies of my opponents..

    1. 4ecks
      Megaphone

      Re: No Noise...???

      oooh, me wants the sound of a RR Merlin, with a touch of the Avro Vulcan howl for the overtake button, and speakers that go up 11!

  24. Morat

    Wipeout!!

    Did anyone else get a throwback to Wipeout 2097?

    Time to look up "Atom Bomb" by Fluke.. it's in the folder somewhere :)

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