Virgin joins Formula E

Virgin has announced plans to enter a team in the new FIA Formula E Championship, which will kick off in September next year. Virgin, which was previously involved in F1 before selling its relatively small share in the team to Marussia, will join eight other teams that have declared their intention to compete: Andretti Autosport, Jay Penske’s Dragon Racing, Britain’s Drayson Racing, India’s Mahindra Racing, Super Aguri from Japan, Hans-Jürgen Abt’s Audi Sport ABT, an offshoot of the DTM team, eDAMS, a new team put together by Jean-Paul Driot and Alain Prost and the little-known China Racing.

One more team has yet be announced.

The series will race in 10 city centre races around the world, initially using Dallara-designed chassis, built by Spark Racing Technology in France, featuring McLaren drive trains and Williams batteries.

The Virgin team will be headed by Alex Tai, who was briefly involved in F1.

38 thoughts on “Virgin joins Formula E

    1. They have some interesting aero features in front of the front wheels, that I’m sure the F1 guys would love to be allowed to use.

    2. They are still racing cars just like the 1906 Fiat and Renault where piston engines started – things will improve – battery technology will improve – and rapidly …… and any benefits will go back as a lucrative way to exploit improvements in the automotive industry “Racing improves the Breed”

      1. Really? So why can’t they improve battery technology so my laptop can work on batteries for a week instead of a few hours? As I understand it petroleum products produce far more energy than any battery. Even Scotty can’t change the laws of physics.

        But by all means try it. Just don’t force me to use and inferior product like you have with lightbulbs.

        1. Rewind 110 years and look where the internal combustion engine was then. That is where we are now with electric development. In a century from now, with focussed development things might be different…

          1. OK Lets be truthful here – 100 years of development and really the Internal Combustion Engine hasn’t progressed very much has it. Plus Technology in now moving non-linearly – it’s rapidly leaping forwards so we can guess that in about 10-15 years time the battery technology will have leapt forward (With every car Manufacturer working on it) therefore this V6 Formula may be the last F1…… (Well Petrol Engined) … (Just saying – Gulp!)

          2. That’s an odd comment Joe; the electric engine has been around as long as the internal combustion engine, after all, and were the choice in the primitive days of motoring, yet, over a hundred years later, we still can’t make one that will get me from Newcastle to London on one charge?

          3. Sorry joe but that,s simply not true. You can rewind 213 years to the first battery invented by Volta (or 2000 years if you believe in the Baghdad battery) so in fact battery’s are about 100 years ahead of internal combustion. In a century I’m sure things will be different battery wise but probably not that different. In development terms battery’s are far further into the law of diminishing returns than internal combustion engines are.

            That’s not to say electric vehicles will not progress, just that battery’s won’t. Hydrogen seems to have hit a wall but remote charging or pick up, supplying energy without having to physically connect may result in some further developments.

            Even so I listened to the post with the sound of an electric car and to be honest it was awful. Like listening to passenger jets taxiing about.

  1. Mr Branson has a knack of getting huge value for his money in terms of brand publicity. He will probably arrive in a hot air balloon.

    If they had got the rules right and swapped batteries instead of cars it would have made a lot more sense as a series. The technology was developed for automatic battery swapping some years ago, but I believe only trialled in Israel.

    1. And Tesla recently said they will have it for their cars.. in the future you could do it just like people put fuel in cars.. and in this case like a mandatory changing tyre at a pit stop. Lets see if Tesla is announced as the 10th Formula E team.

  2. The fact that they are racing in city centers is what is going to give this a good chance for success.
    I can’t imagine anything more dull than watching these things “whooosh” and “whiiiirr” around a large, classic road course such as Spa.

  3. I hope formula E works out, I cant wait for the phase where the teams actually produce their own designs.

  4. Hi Joe

    Massively off topic, but with all the Mandela coverage I’ve been reading a few bits about him and F1, regulalary listening to it in prison, and meeting Ayrton Senna after his release. Any truth in this, knowledge from your side?

    Many thanks

    1. No idea.I cannot say I have bumped into him… I did meet Cyril Ramaphosa the last time we were in South Africa. He was at the Grand Prix.

  5. I’m excited about this. I think this could be a very interesting laboratory for cutting edge car engineering with real road car implications.

  6. Pointless formula bending to the Green lobby attracting sponsors who I assume will drone on about the sustainable nature of this tax winning investment. Give me the wonderful sound of a internal combustion spinning at 18000RPM any day over this wasteful exercise. Of course a few folk will make tons of money along the road to it’s inevitable demise.

    1. You haven’t watched the Doc about Nissan betting every yen they had on making an Electric Car profitable then ….. the Leaf. ??? …… It’s the way of the future as Oil won’t last forever – So you better get used to it. !!!!!!

    2. The Audi LMP also has a combustion engine but it´s almost quiet. 250.000 spectators in Le Mans didn´t care. So where`s the problem?

  7. I suspect that most of you whining (like the cars?) about Formula E are over 25 years of age and therefore of little relevance to the future of motor sport.

    Sure, you can fall into an enraptured coma at the mere mention of a Ferrari flat-12 or Cosworth V8, but that’s not the future, that’s the past. And that’s where it belongs, together with today’s half-assed energy recovery F1 dinosaurs.

    Electric transport is already here, and it works. Expensive? Yup. Range-limited? Certainly. But these things will change, and it’ll be formula like Formula E leading the way.

    So whine all you like. The playstation generation will LOVE it. Technology based on rechargeable energy; not noisy, reciprocating, oily, late 19th century technology based on stuff dribbling out of the ground and making everything smell bad.

    Never mind. You can always watch re-runs of your fav races on your VHS recorders 🙂

    1. ro, your post is baffling and suggests you don’t understand or appreciate motor racing, or anything remotely mechanical in nature. Stick to your soul-destroying, mind-numbing simulated playstation mentality. By the way, nothing man-made happens or moves without oil, including Ecars… just think about it.

      1. *blinks*

        No, ben, it’s not baffling if you read it. Where did I say anything about the racing?

        I’m suggesting it’s the technology which has past its sell-by date. Faffing around with engine capacity, turbos and all the other artificial silliness which F1 assures us contributes towards ‘racing’ is doing no one any favours. It’s a completely pointless sophistication being sold to us as technological advancement by everyone from manufacturers to the media surrounding the circus.

        And, trust me, it is a circus. Go to any F1 race. It’s less about motor racing than glamour, international networking and marketing garbage. The artificial ‘racing’ is there simply for the minions who actually fund the circus through their TV subscriptions to gawp at.

        I love motor racing. I simply feel it’s a shame that F1 doesn’t lead the way to the future in terms of motive technology and REAL motor racing. But I’ll be in Beijing in September to see if Formula E can recapture the spirit..

        Should I start a blog…? 🙂

    2. I think that you are rather optimistic about the contribution that Formula E could make given that, by design, the resources of the teams will be heavily restricted.

      As things stand, the budget of Formula E teams is likely to be capped at €2 million a year – an amount that the VW Group would spend in less than two hours at their current rate of spending on research and development (currently at €9 billion a year and growing above inflation).

      Equally, why should it be the case that a handful of small manufacturers should suddenly make major progress when the consumer electronics industry, who have been throwing tens of billions a year into advanced battery systems, haven’t?
      Formula E, like pretty much the entirely of motorsport, is likely to be buying in that expertise from external parties, like specialists within the consumer electronics industry – they simply won’t have the resources to do it in house.

      1. I agree with everything you write, but everything has to start somewhere and Formula E, unlike F1, is a big step in the right direction.

        F1 became successful because – from the 50’s to the 80’s – it was actually relevant as a proving ground for technologies which would be in road cars 5-10 years down the line. Today it’s just a sad freak show of gadgets dressed as technology, aero dressed as innovation, and very few are calling ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ on the whole silly charade.

        Formula E is probably far from perfect, but it’s bringing racing back to city centre streets, it has the freaky change-cars-mid-race factor, it’s developing technology I might be driving in 2020 and the races may actually be closely fought.

        What’s not to love?

    3. As a member of both the Playstation generation and a follower of F1 before it (F1 actually got me into the Playstation with an advert for F1 97 – now that’s how to engage a 7 year old to interact with your product), I can see the case for a series like Formula E. Scared of a little competition?

      I must say that having seen a Renault Twizy pull away with instant torque and doing so quite silently in Spain reminded me of something from Gattaca live in the flesh. Totally innovating. But that’s what will win out – technological innovation. That is what will lead us into the future, be it engine powered or electrically powered. Many types of fuel will be available, such as genetically engineered bio-fuels as a replacement for oil for example, so perhaps whichever one is most efficient and also economically viable will win out in the end.

      If ICEs keep their hegemony, there will thus be a big opportunity for something like Carbon Capture and Storage to fix the environmental problems that will ensue. One of the problems for Electric is creating a better storage unit for energy than the batteries we currently have, but like most technologies, this can of course be improved with a little competition (perhaps here from 2015 onwards).

      It’ll be a fascinating battle for the future of motoring and energy, among many other fields, and it would be interesting to know the history of ICE vs. Electricity as well.

    4. Legend! – Totally agree, Stop the sooking you V12, Green Hell, no Hans device era fan boys, this series is interesting from all spectrums – technical to racing.

      Formula E and Indycar is where its at…

  8. Well done a new formula and city centre tracks, I hope it is a great success and has none of the nonesense that surrounds F1.

  9. The racing aspect aside, recent F1 venues have shown that by hosting events too far away from civilisation (eg Korea), your events may not last. Others like Melbourne and Singapore have florished. This for me is the competitive advantage Formula E over other categories.

  10. Also moviestar Leonardo di Caprio is said to enter Formula E being involved with Venturi Racing in 2014. It could give the series some PR it desperately needs.

    Btw, in some decades Formula 1 will be called Formula E 🙂 V6 Turbo with hybrid -> R4 with more hybrid -> only electric powertrain, that´s the way it could go.

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