Formula E Begins – quietly

Youtube doesn’t really do time limits. Not unreasonable ones, at least.

So it’s a bit of a worry when the official Formula E Youtube channel puts up a highlights video of the first ever Formula E race and the highlights from the actual race go for just 30 seconds.


That’s a 2:30 video and the highlights go between 0:30 and 1:00. The rest of it is discussion of what was a spectacular crash at the end of the race. I watched a little bit of the start and it doesn’t surprise me that there wasn’t much to see. The warm-up lap took more than 5 minutes. i don’t think the pace is really quick enough to provide much in the way of highlights at the moment.

Here’s the full final lap, which includes the crash you just saw.

Yes, what you’re about to see is racing. And no, there’s no speed limit. That’s as fast as they go.


It’s easy to sit here and throw rotten tomatoes at this fledgling motor sport. I’m excited by the idea of electric vehicle racing but as you can see from the video, the reality isn’t living up to the expectation at all right now. They need more speed, more noise and ….. more excitement.

Perhaps they should take Sniff Petrol’s advice.

The danger here is that they might have started Formula E too early. People might see what’s being offered right now and lose interest in it forever. It could set the sport back a decade just as it’s finding its feet.

Did you watch it?

Were you excited by what you saw (as opposed to being excited about the idea of electric car racing)?

What could they do to make it better?

And yes, as a Saab person, the presence of Mahindra racing was noted….

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  1. Yes, even my partner’s 89 year old mother asked why they were driving so slowly. 140mph top speed sounds a lot on paper but on the track it isn’t, if they were even going that fast.

  2. I think the trouble here is they are emulating an F1-style road course. To create fast-moving action, the course should be perhaps more varied. Either that or they should have two or three events with this being the culmination of the day, something like an autocross.

    1. I was thinking similar things as I watched it. A smaller, or tighter track might have made quite a difference.

      Bottom line, though – I think they jumped in 5 years too early, probably just to secure the space.

    1. there is electric motorcycle racing. Has been around for about 6 years or more.

      There are also quite a few electric motorcycles in land speed racing at Bonneville…….and quite a few cars. Electric power is well suite for LSR.

      Short distance.
      Weight is a big penalty however.

  3. I agree that you need a tighter shorter track. they could only run half the 25 lap race before switching cars for fresh batteries. I could not believe it when they said they were doing a pit stop and they drove into a garage and the drivers changed cars!! I could no believe my eyes…..

    Why would you think that an electric car makes sense for highway use when this race car can only go 13 laps!!

    As noted by Swade the warm-up lap was a joke. It was a “slow race” to see who could use the least wattage getting back to the start. That too was really bad.

    A race like this is all about power management. You can easily run a great race an be slow at the end because you used too much power during the event.

    That is just what it looked like Prost did. Heidfeld had power left and was trying to pass Prost when Prost shut the door on him. Prost knew he could not hold him off with pace so he had to punt him to win.

    Lack of sound in another problem…..well they do make some noise, but not very exciting.

    I reemember my first electrick bike race a Laguna Seca raceway. It was a moto GP weekend and when the e class ran, the crowd did not even know there was racing going on. Finally the announcing on the PA make them realize there was some good, though almost silent racing going on.

  4. As with everything new, you have to start somewhere and then go from there. That is the only way to learn. It will not be perfect and to everybody’s liking from start, but is there anything that is? Try to imagine car companies that would not release a car until they thought they had the perfect car that everybody liked. How many cars would we have in the world? This is a new thing. It will hopefully (like species) evolve and find its own niche in motorsport. Electric cars will be a important part of the automotive near future, so racing with such cars is only logical.

    The most obvious flaws with Formula E are not unique to them but rather the usual ones for motorsport in general:

    – fear of going its own way, and instead desperately trying to ride on the buzz around Formula 1
    – almost no understanding of how to reach motorsport fans through the internet

    I fear the whole thing to be gone and forgotten a few years from now, due to lack of interest and sponsor money (A1GP, anyone?).

  5. It looks like they kept everything that’s bad about F1 and threw-out the good stuff.
    It’s a spec series where all the cars are effectively identical. They don’t look like they are driving anywhere near the limit, which means that the drivers are just there to manage energy consumption.

    The noise is really grating. Like an indecisive dentist doing root canal surgery.

    I would have them drop all the wings (even though that’s the best place for sponsor decals), use really narrow tyres, and let them experiment with new approaches. How about delta wing cars like Panoz ran at Le Mans, or tilting cars, or something that looks like World Solar Challenge racers?

    1. Not having known any of that, I agree with your assessment of the rules changes. Let ’em go wild! CanAm here in North America made for some great, very fast racing almost BECAUSE the rules were very lose. Chaparrals with vacuum fans for down force, huge engines (even dual engine cars), experimental tires, etc.

    2. Agree with this sentiment – there are safety issues, of course, but they should be going for a “whatever works best” approach. I’m not a fan of fixed spec racing really – I’d rather see innovation even if it means one team dominates per season. Perhaps the imposition should be on things like weight and size rather than downforce or power output?

  6. Interesting!

    the 2:30 video was “removed by user” according to YouTube.

    Yeah, they need some noise! Cool looking cars that appear to be going 100 mph sitting still but are moving, albeit slowly. The appearance of speed is relative.