After Formula1, FormulaE series to Come to India in 2014

The promoters of the brand new FIA Formula E series, in which the cars will be powered by electric energy, are targeting India as a destination for a race in their inaugural series in 2014. India is being viewed differently by the motorsport world after it successfully hosted Formula One Grand Prix last year. Within the next six months, the World Superbike championship will make its debut in India and talks were also on to bring the GT1 series as well. FIA President Jean Todt has signed an agreement with a group of investors — Formula E Holdings Ltd (FEH)– to stage the Formula E series, which will have 10 teams and 20 drivers. Alejandro Agag, the CEO of Formula E, said they want India to be part of the series.

“We would like to have a race in India, but we are open about the city. We will see what the best options are and then decide,” Agag said in an interview. “Formula E are certainly focussing on emerging markets to develop the championship. Establishing a base in India would reflect that strategy. We might look for a local partner in India to work with us to set up the race,” Agag, who already supports teams in the GP2 and GP3 series, said. The organisers have not yet decided on the city although initially Mumbai was mentioned as one of the venues.

JPSI, the owners of Buddh International Circuit (BIC) — the venue of the F1 Indian Grand Prix, said they are open to the idea of hosting such a race. “We have that in mind but nothing has happened officially on that front. If we are approached, we can discuss the idea with them,” Askari Zaidi, Head, Corporate Communications, JPSI said. Explaining the rationale behind launching such a series, Agag said it was a future-centric championship, keeping in mind the environmental needs. “The global demand for electric vehicles is growing all the time and we are reflecting that in the sport. This is history in the making and a chance to inspire future generations to curb carbon emissions.

“The automotive industry is currently going through a process of significant transformation that will become increasingly visible. In this transformation, the electric car will play a key role as the most practical way to achieve the goal of more efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles,” he said. The Electric Prix will be different from F1 races. The first feature is that it will happen in one day. Second, pole position will be the result of playoffs, with cars racing one against another, in a format similar to tennis or the Champions League. Third, in the pit-stop, the driver will not change tyres or batteries, they will change car.

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A Formula E car based on the French company Formulec’s F 01 prototype, still in development, will be made available to teams should they choose to use it. “Teams can choose to have their own cars, provided they are FIA homologated. Therefore the championship is open to any constructor wishing to build a Formula E car,” Agag said. The races will last about an hour in total and each driver will have two cars. The cars will have a charge lasting around 25 minutes, so there will be a change whilst the first car is re-charged and then another change to the original car for the last part of the race. Formula E cars will be single seaters, able to reach speeds of over 200km per hour.

Soon after the news spread about the new series, 2005 and 2006 F1 world champion Fernando Alonso came up a with a negative remark, saying that this series actually is a step backward. However, Agag said they do not want a comparison with F1. “Fernando Alonso is a great driver, and we respect his opinion. But we don’t compare ourselves to F1. We are not the electric F1, as Luca Montezzemolo said recently, we are Formula E, which is a completely different concept.

“We think F1 is great, and I myself have been part of that world, through my GP2 Team (feeder series to F1) for many years. You cannot compare Skiing and Snowboard. I can guarantee you something, we will be the fastest and most exciting Electric Car Championship in the world,” he concluded.

News source: TimesofIndia