News in brief from a busy 48 hours for the all-electric series:
➤ Earlier this week, Formula E chief executive Alejando Agag revealed that cities are now being asked to make a financial contribution towards running costs if they want to host an ePrix. “We could go to 300 cities in the world. Everyone would welcome us.” But, he added, “If you want to race, you have to pay for it”.
The first indications that the message is being received loud-and-clear surfaced today, following a meeting of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council. The season three calendar has been approved by the sport’s governing body, but with just 12 rounds instead of the anticipated 14. Two placeholder slots, including one at the start of the European leg that many assumed would be a re-located London race, have been removed altogether.
➤ How the season will end has also changed. Race weekends for Montreal and New York have been switched, meaning Canada will now host the final double-header and the Brooklyn event will coincide with the WEC‘s 6 Hours of Nürburgring. Given how many drivers compete in both formulas, the clash will result in some difficult decisions for drivers and teams alike… and potentially give rookie drivers a chance to secure points for their team at a key point in the season.
➤ On the track, a new “power ramp down” feature has been introduced. Designed to make it much clearer to spectators which drivers have exceeded their maximum power usage in a race, the feature requires cars that go over their allocation to immediately cut their power all the way down to zero – effectively an instant “stop-start” penalty.
➤ Since its inception, Formula E has set itself highly ambitious targets for technical development. This includes the desire to switch to battery technology in season five that would allow cars to run the entire race (eliminating the need for a car swap at the halfway stage). It’s this breakthrough that makes the series more commercially appealing to manufacturers such as BMW, who announced this week that they would be supporting Andretti in seasons three and four, and are aiming to launch a works team in 2018/19. McLaren Applied Technologies were today declared winners of the tender to supply the new long-range batteries for seasons five and six.
Image: ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport testing at Donnington Park © Formula E