‘Revolutionary’. ‘The future of motoring’. ‘Quiet’. These are just a few terms that have been coined in relation to the inaugural Formula E Championship that kicks off in Beijing this weekend. But how much do you really know about the series as we edge closer to its big day? Here’s an electric 50 things you probably didn’t know;
1. The Venturi Racing Team is co-owned by Hollywood superstar, Leonardo Di Caprio.
2. Seven of the ten race venues this season have never been raced on before.
3. The Monaco round in May 2015 will be the first race around the principality not to feature on an F1 Weekend or Historic Grand Prix event.
4. The electric powertrain and electronic system in each Spark-Renault SRT_01E is directly taken from the McLaren P1 supercar.
5. The 18’ inch treaded tyres supplied by Michelin are multi-purpose for all weather conditions. Drivers also have to carry one front and one rear tyre over to the next event also.
6. The much talked about FanBoost will temporarily increase max power from 150kw to 180kw for every driver that wins, an increase of 30kw (40.5bhp).
7. Virgin Racing’s Jamie Alguersuari will make his full-time return to motorsport in Beijing since his ousting from Toro Rosso in 2011.
8. Part of the race package will involve drivers making a mandatory car swap during the one-hour race, due to the current lack of charge available in each of the battery units.
9. No less than 12 of the 20 starters in Beijing are ex-F1 racers.
10. Despite being a single make championship, drivers and teams are free to choose which brake supplier and material they wish to use.
11. Audi Abt Sport’s Lucas Di Grassi was formerly announced as the official test driver of Formula E in 2013, before being told that such a role would ban him from competing in the series itself. He resigned so he could race.
12. Nelson Piquet Jr’s appearance at Donington Park for the final pre-season FE test was his first time in a race car in Europe in five years, following the crash-gate scandal that rocked F1 and the Brazilian in 2009.
13. From 2015, teams will be allowed to showcase, develop and enhance their own electrical energy innovations.
14. The inclusion of Nicolas Prost and Bruno Senna on the grid marks the first time the two great names have lined-up together since 1993.
15. The all-new BMW i8 supercar will act as the Safety Car, and will feature wireless charging technology courtesy of series partner electrical solutions company, Qualcomm.
16. The e-DAMS team is not made of cheese.
17. Despite an all-Italian driver line-up and management team, Trulli GP is licensed as a Swiss outfit.
18. The identical battery units used in each car are built by Williams F1 in co-operation with American firm XALT Energy, with the latter making the lithium-ion cells that will power the cars.
19. As in modern F1 and sportscar racing, each driver will be charged with controlling their car’s energy usage from a set of dials on the steering wheel.
20. Just 0.1 seconds shy of a current GP2 car, the Spark-Renault SRT_01E can go from 0-62 mph in 3.0 seconds.
21. DHL, official logistics partners to Formula E, advised the layout of this season’s calendar, in an attempt to reduce the carbon footprint of the series.
22. Takuma Sato will line-up for Amlin Aguri in China, a team born out of the ashes of Super Aguri, the team he last appeared in Formula One for at the 2008 Spanish Grand Prix.
23. At each venue, practice, qualifying and the race itself will all run on a single day.
24. Whoever wins this seasons title will pick up a cheque for £5million in prize money.
25. The 320kg battery situated in each car accounts for over a third of the car & drivers combined minimum weight (888kg).
26. Unlike Formula One, the five-speed, sequential paddle shift gearboxes will have fixed ratios, i.e, no room for adjusting top speed, acceleration rates etc via the gearbox.
27. Either side of the driver sit two metal wings protruding from the crash structure. However, they act as heavy-duty safety beams, not as aerodynamic components.
28. Of the original ten teams to be confirmed, Drayson Racing was the only entry which failed to make it to the track. Its entry was instead taken over by Jarno Trulli, creating Trulli GP.
29. Beside’s its Formula E commitments, Venturi also operate an electric land speed record programme, with their last outing on the Bonneville Salt Flats last week setting a new record of 270mph.
30. Formula E will be broadcast to over 90 countries worldwide.
31. The series’ Donington headquarters and team factory units were built in just under four months, and at a cost of £5.7 million.
32. Despite a 20-man grid consisting of 12 ex-F1 racers, only one can boast an F1 victory, with Jarno Trulli triumphing at the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix.
33. As it has been recently banned in Formula One, Formula E will not allow live telemetry to be at the disposal of the drivers during a race.
34. Logistics supremo DHL are tasked with transporting 41 cars, 45 potentially volatile lithium battery packs, two 1000kW generators and more than 200 Michelin tyres to each race venue.
35. The teams’ set-up at each race will not return to the series British base at any point during the ten month, ten race season.
36. Despite the season having not yet started, Audi Sport Abt have already enjoyed race success of sorts, after winning the first of two race simulations during testing at Donington Park with Lucas Di Grassi back in July.
37. One-time F1 racer Franck Montagny described the sound of air hitting his helmet whilst driving in testing as ‘disturbing’, during a Q&A session held at the final pre-season test.
38. Jennie Gow will lead ITV4’s coverage of Formula E as well as holding down a position as part of the BBC’s F1 coverage in 2014/15.
39. The electricity used to charge up the cars will be supplied by generators burning a waste product called glycerol, which is a by-product of bio-diesel. It has no sulphur emissions and is non-toxic.
40. The bodywork behind the rear tyres is designed to prevent cars from inter-locking with each other, and is taken from the Dallara DW12 chassis currently used in IndyCar.
41. Stéphane Sarrazin enters the Formula E fray having competed in Formula One for Minardi in 1999, the World Rally Championship for Subaru, and the Le Mans 24 Hours & World Endurance Championship for both Peugeot, and more recently, Toyota.
42. Each event on the calendar will enjoy a DJ set/concert during the weekend, with this weekend’s race in China being preceded by a charity concert at the hands of Sarah Brightman and Liu Huan.
43. BT Sport will air a 60-minute highlight package in the week following each race.
44. The season-ending London round of the series will take place in and around Battersea Park on the 27th June 2015.
45. The qualifying session to each race weekend will have the format of 20 cars being split into four groups of five cars, with each group getting 10 minutes to set their fastest time. The fastest of all will win pole position and three championship points.
46. Despite getting the nod for this weekend’s China round, Takuma Sato is to be replaced by Amlin Aguri’s first choice driver Felix da Costa from the following Putrajaya round.
47. Series CEO Alejandro Agag bought football club Queens Park Rangers in 2007, as part of a consortium involving Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone.
48. The top speed of each car is limited to 140 mph.
49. Formula E marks the first European-based venture for stateside motorsport juggernauts Andretti Autosport.
50. Season one will feature two female racers, with Amlin Aguri’s Katherine Legge joining Trulli GP’s Michela Cerruti on the grid. Cerruti is a Badger favourite, making our list of Top 5 Female Racers in 2012.
You can watch all the action unfold in the inaugural Formula E race this Saturday in Beijing, China, with coverage starting at 8:00am (GMT) on ITV4