Right now there’s a big gap in terms of popularity between the two single-seater series, and it will be interesting to watch how the situation unfold over the next few years. With the global agreements regarding electrification coming up next, is Formula 1 going to be taken off the grid, with Formula E taking over as the main attraction? Or will they merge into one championship and continue from there?
As these vehicles are powered by batteries, the concept was to take them racing on enclosed, public roads, which should’ve generated a lot of visibility for the series. But racing on public roads presents itself with a series of challenges, considering the quality of the tarmac. Looking at Formula E machines, they’ve evolved quite a bit over the past 7 years, and the new Gen2 ones are more capable than their forerunners.
The minimum weight including the driver is set at 1,990 lbs (903kg), and the battery weighs 848 lbs (385 kg). The current generation Formula E car has got double the energy storage capacity of the Gen1 car, so mid-race car swaps are now a thing of the past. Maximum horsepower levels are set at 250kW or roughly 330 horsepower, but in race mode, they’re toned down a bit to 200kW, or about 270 horsepower. With that in mind, these cars can go from 0 to 62 mph (100 kph) in just 2.8 seconds, and they’ve got a top speed of 174 mph (280 kph).
Gen3 cars are already on the way, and we might see them in action as early as 2022. But until then, let’s have a look at how the 2020/2021 season is going so far. This weekend the drivers are taking part in the 10th and 11th rounds of the season, in the city of New York. The track is close to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, and has a total length of 1.44 miles (2.32 km), with 14 turns all in all.
The Mercedes-EQ Formula E team went off to a slow start of the weekend, as Nyck de Vries was P14 in the first practice session and P6 in the second one. Stoffel Vandoorne was slightly faster, in P7 and P8 respectively. But they didn’t manage to perform the same in the qualifying session, so going into the race they had to settle for P18 and P21. Things didn’t go any better in the race, and both drivers faced problems of their own.
Nyck de Vries was rear-ended early on in the race and suffered some damage that would ultimately compromise the balance of his car. Even so, he didn’t quit, and 38 laps later he would finish the race in P13. His teammate wasn’t as fortunate, and a tire puncture took him out of the race, even though his rhythm seemed to be somewhat promising.
Maximilian Guenther from BMW I Andretti Motorsport won the race after starting from P4, while Jean-Eric Vergne from Team DS Techeetah came in second, and Lucas di Grassi from Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler came in 3rd. Nyck de Vries is currently 7th in the championship, quite close behind three of his opponents, while Stoffel Vandoorne is down in 10th.
As for team results, Mercedes-EQ is now in 4th place overall, just two points behind Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler. The second race of the weekend is being held today, starting at 10.30 a.m. PDT. The race will be broadcasted on CBS, but some highlights will probably surface over on Formula E’s Youtube channel as well.