A lowdown on Formula E

Formula E is the global electric street racing series, taking place in some of the most exciting cities in the world.

The championship features 10 teams and 20 drivers and is heading into its fourth season, having begun in 2014.

The all-electric series has a mission to advance electric vehicle technology and shape the cars of the future.

Channel 5 will be screening the new season live, starting this Sunday with the curtain-raising Hong Kong Grand Prix.

Here is everything you need to know about the sport.

Where and when does it take place?

The first E-Prix of Season 4 takes place in downtown Hong Kong with a double header on December 2 & 3 and runs until July. The series features 14 races in 11 of the world’s most exciting cities – including street races in the likes of Hong Kong, Paris and New York.

This season will see Santiago, Sao Paulo and Rome host Formula E races for the first time, whilst the first motor race for 60 years will be held in Switzerland when the Zurich E-Prix takes place in June.

Full calendar

  • Hong Kong on December 2 & 3
  • Marrakesh, Morocco on January 13
  • Santiago, Chile on February 3
  • Mexico City, Mexico on March 3
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil on March 17
  • Rome, Italy on April 14
  • Paris, France on April 28
  • Berlin, Germany on May 19
  • Zurich, Switzerland on June 10
  • New York, USA on July 14 & 15
  • Montreal, Canada on July 28 & 29

Which circuits are used?

Except for the Marrakesh and Mexico City races, Formula E takes place on temporary street circuits. Due to the races taking place on public streets, the tracks are far tighter than other motorsport circuits, making it even more testing for drivers.

How long is a race?

All races last season were completed in around an hour.

The quickest win of the season was completed in 45 minutes while the slowest was 59 minutes.

How are points allocated?

Points are awarded to the top-10 finishers as follows:

  • 1st – 25pts
  • 2nd – 18pts
  • 3rd – 15pts
  • 4th – 12pts
  • 5th – 10pts
  • 6th – 8pts
  • 7th – 6pts
  • 8th – 4pts
  • 9th – 2pts
  • 10th – 1pt

Pole earns three points and the driver in the top-10 with the fastest lap also earns an additional point.

How fast can the cars go?

An average Formula E car can reach a maximum speed of 140mph and is able to go from 0-60mph in three seconds. On average, a Formula E car has a power of at least 250 horsepower. The speed of the cars has already doubled since Season 1.

How are they fuelled?

The cars are charged by electricity, created using generators that run on a virtually emission free fuel – glycerine. Glycerine is a sweet, syrupy liquid obtained from animal fats and oils or by the fermentation of glucose. The fuel used for Formula E cars is so clean that a human can drink it.

How much electricity do they use?

During a race, a Formula E car has a maximum power usage of 180kW. This would be the equivalent of charging an iPhone for more than four years.

What do the cars sound like?

A Formula E car produces a noise unlike any other racing vehicle which is 10 decibels louder than a gas engine touring car. The high-pitched noise is like that of a plane taking off. While still louder than an average road vehicle, the cars are quieter than Formula 1 cars which helps to allow the races to take place in more heavily populated areas.

Which teams and manufacturers are involved?

Formula E features 10 teams, including representation from car manufacturers Audi, DS, Jaguar, Renault, Mahindra, Venturi, Penske, NIO and Andretti.

BMW and Nissan will be entering as manufacturers in Season 5 while Mercedes-Benz and Porsche will be join the series in Season 6. The battery which is used by every Formula E car was designed by Williams.

The full line-up for the 2017/18 season is…

  • Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, Germany
  • DS Virgin Racing, UK
  • Panasonic Jaguar Racing, UK
  • Venturi Formula E Team, Monaco
  • DRAGON, USA
  • Renault e.dams, France
  • NIO Formula E Team, China
  • TECHEETAH, China
  • Mahindra Racing, India
  • Andretti Formula E, USA

Who are the leading drivers?

The reigning champion is Brazilian Lucas di Grassi who races for Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler. There have been two previous champions in Brazil’s Nelson Piquet JR who races for Panasonic Jaguar Racing and Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi who races for Renault e.dams.

Britain is well represented by DS Virgin Racing’s all-British line up of Sam Bird – who finished fourth overall last year after winning both E-Prix in New York – and 24-year-old Alex Lynn who qualified on pole position in his first and only race in New York last year. Cambridge Blue Oliver Turvey races for NIO.

Nico Prost – the son of former Formula 1 world champion Alain – drives for Renault and the youngest Frenchman ever to race in Formula 1, Jean-Eric Vergne races for TECHEETAH.

Three-times Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer, from Germany, is joining the grid this season alongside countrymen Nick Heidfeld, who spent a decade in F1, Maro Engel at Venturi and Audi’s 24-year-old driver Daniel Abt.

New Zealand’s Mitch Evans, 23, and reigning Rookie of the Year Felix Rosenqvist, 26, from Sweden round out the other younger faces on the grid hoping to make their name in Formula E.

Who are the leading figures of the sport?

Alejandro Agag is the CEO and Founder of Formula E. The Spanish businessman and entrepreneur has been involved in motorsport for a long time and is a former Chairman of Queens Park Rangers.

Racing legends have taken on roles as team principals such as four-time F1 world champion Alain Prost at Renault, former Formula 1 driver Allan McNish at Audi and American Indy Car legend and US racing royalty Michael Andretti at MS&AD Andretti Formula E.

Other famous names who play a role in the sport include Leonardo DiCaprio who co-founded Venturi Formula E and Sir Richard Branson who owns the DS Virgin Racing team as part of the Virgin Group.

A-List celebrities such as Will.iam, Paris Hilton, Antonio Banderas and Irina Shayk have previously been spotted at Formula E races. Chris Hemsworth even took a Formula E car for a spin in New York last year.

Where can I watch it?

The opening race of the season will be broadcast on Channel 5 at 9am on December 2 & 3.

With the TV coverage hosted by Vernon Kay, Channel 5 will be covering the entirety of the Formula E season.

What’s the difference between Formula E and Formula 1?

Whilst Formula E and Formula 1 are two sports from the same family, they are different sport for several reasons – it is like comparing snowboarding to skiing.

Formula 1 uses hybrid engines, while Formula E cars are fully electric – allowing the sport to take place in the heart of cities, rather than at a traditional motor racing circuit.

A young sport, Formula E continues to push boundaries and bring fans closer to the action. It features interactive elements such as FANBOOST – which allows fans to vote for their favourite driver on social media, with the winner receiving a power boost during the race. Formula E race weekends also feature an e-race, which allows fans to test themselves against the drivers’ times in a simulator.

How can I watch?

You can watch Formula E races on Channel 5 or catch highlights online at the Formula E YouTube. Instant highlights will also be available on the Formula E Twitter.

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