Electric racing cars will have their own FIA Championship in 2014. The federation has just awarded the commercial rights to the series to Formula E Holdings, a company that is registered in Hong Kong, but operates out of offices in Berkeley Square in London. The new organisation is headed by Spanish businessman Alejandro Agag, who runs the Addax GP2 team and has been involved in such enterprises as Queens Park Rangers football club. He is the son-in-law of former Prime Minister José María Aznar. He has long had ambitions of running his own F1 team, but seems to have decided that there might be more mileage in becoming the Bernie Ecclestone of electric racing. He will be in partnership with billionaire Enrique Banuelos, a real estate magnate who lost a lot of money in Spain when the the market there crashed, but who sold his business and has invested heavily in Brazil. Also involved are former British government minister Lord Drayson, who runs Drayson Racing Technologies and France’s Eric Barbaroux, formerly the director of special projects for Prost Grand Prix, who later become the CEO of the French Grand Prix, who has been working on electric cars since the event stopped in 2008.
“We are pleased with this agreement with Formula E Holdings as they bring a very strong experience in motorSport,” said Jean Todt. “The new events will provide a great way to engage the younger generation. This spectacular series will offer both entertainment and a new opportunity to share FIA values with a wide audience as clean energy, mobility and sustainability. This is a great day and a strong message to the motor sport community. The FIA is definitely looking to the future!”
The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro has already agreed to become the first to host a race. The plan is for the races to be held in city centres. Agag says that there are also plans for similar races in other major cities.
“In Mexico we are coordinating with key figures including Carlos Slim Domit (escuderia Telmex) and Federico Alaman (CIE), to identify which would be the best location in the country,” he says. “Prince Albert of Monaco has publicly stated his support for the electric car and his wish to host an Electric Grand Prix in Montecarlo. We would obviously love to race in a place with such a long and beautiful racing tradition. We will of course look for cities in North America, Europe, Africa, Oceania and we will place particular emphasis on Asia. Countries like China are investing huge resources in the promotion of the use of EVs. We think we can contribute to that effort.”
Barbaroux is the man who has been working longest on the concept
“Every sport has its own way of doing things and I think that is the best way to go,” he said in 2010. “The best way to illustrate what I am saying is to compare skiing and surfing. Downhill racing is spectacular and magnificent but surfing is a completely different culture. There is music, there is much more of a festival. I think that we should aim for that and change the way things are done and not try to compete with conventional racing cars. They are not comparable and thus you need a different strategy”.
Formulec developed the prototype EF01 in 2010 with Jules Bianchi and Alexandre Prémat conducting the testing and development. The EF01 was able to accelerate from 0-60mph in 3 seconds and had a top speed of 155mph. The primary problem remains the batteries with races not likely to go beyond 20 minutes at the beginning.
“The 100 metres in the Olympics takes just 10 seconds but it is the biggest media event is all sport, so the key is to build an event around the main race and create the right kind of atmosphere,” Barbaroux argued. “We do not see this being a three or four day event, but we will do it all in one day. In terms of TV coverage a main event of 30 minutes live racing, packaged with 20 minutes of highlights and interviews creates a package of around 50 minutes which is what the broadcasters are looking for.”
Formulec will provide the vehicles for teams to use in 2014. There will be 10 teams and 20 drivers and the aim is to draw competitors from traditional F1 teams, electric car companies and global brands.