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16 facts about Formula E to have your say

What would the world be like without napkins? The first contract between Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona was scribbled on a napkin, J.K. Rowling recorded her first Harry Potter ideas on it - and so it was with the idea for Formula E. That was in 2011. Ten years later, that note has turned into something very big: the FIA Formula E World Championship. A racing series held on the streets of this world and a sign of technological progress and sustainability. Everything you need to know - from the founders to the teams to the most absurd penalties - is here.

1. The beginning

Legends are always tricky, but the truth is that on the evening of March 3, 2011, two gentlemen named Jean Todt and Alejandro Agag met in a restaurant in Paris. What you need to know: Jean Todt is not only a former racing driver but also FIA president, Alejandro Agag a Spanish businessman. Over the course of the evening, the two scribbled their plan on a napkin. They wanted to set up an all-electric formula championship with the most famous cities in the world as venues. It was important to the two of them that the street racing series should stand for sustainable mobility and motivate the automotive industry to push ahead with the development of electric cars. Alejandro Agag later became chairman of Formula E, by the way. And the first race took place on September 13, 2014, in the Olympic Park in Beijing. 

2. The (celebrity) sponsors

When it comes to climate protection, he's guaranteed not to be far away: Leonardo DiCaprio. Back in 2013 the actor joined Formula E team Venturi as a partner and in 2015 he was appointed chairman of the racing series' sustainability committee. Where else does the money for the racing series come from? Other sponsors include the Swedish-Swiss technology company ABB, the Swiss private bank Julius Bär, Michelin, DHL and the Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer.

3. The bare figures

There are currently 12 teams and 24 drivers competing in the series. As in Formula 1, two championship titles are awarded at the end of the season - for the best driver and the best team. Unlike in the so-called premier class, the races are held in the middle of the city. One lap is 2.5 to 3 kilometers long - about half as long as in Formula 1. In addition, in Formula 1 the Grand Prix lasts two days, while the ePrix usually takes place on one race day. It starts with two free practice sessions, followed by four group qualifying sessions, a qualifying session to determine the pole position - and then the race plus one lap in the afternoon.

4. The system and the points 

The points system is relatively simple. At least if you already know it. Formula E is almost the same as the FIA racing series. The top ten drivers in a race receive championship points depending on their placing. The first receives 25, the second 18 and the tenth another point. There is an extra point for the fastest lap and a further three points for achieving pole position. And since the 2019/20 season, the fastest driver in the qualifying group stage receives an extra point. The highest number of points a Formula E driver can score on a race day is 30. A team, in turn, could score a maximum of 48 points.

5. The electric racing cars 

First mover: Team Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler has shaped Formula E from the very beginning. In the debut season in 2014/15  ABT Sportsline and Schaeffler provided the only German team and in 2017/18 Audi joined as the first German car manufacturer. At the beginning, there was a plan to have all the teams in Formula E start with an almost identical racing car. However, this idea was dropped in the second season. Initially, further development was limited to the drive components engine, inverter, transmission and cooling system. Today, only the chassis and battery are the same for all teams. The SRT_05e, which has been in use since the 2018/19 season, is a joint production from various manufacturers called Spark Racing Technology (SRT). The price amounts to 567,300 euros. The chassis costs 299,600 euros, the battery 200,000 euros, the halo safety system 12,700 euros and the management fee 55,000 euros. If the vehicle is not fitted with a self-developed powertrain, this can be purchased for a further 250,000 euros.

6. The real speeds 

The first SRT-01E produced a maximum of 272 hp (200 kW) and reached a top speed of 225 km/h, the second generation with 340 hp (250 kW) reaches 240 kilometers per hour. Though the maximum power of the vehicles can only be used in qualifying. In the race, the usable power limit is 200 kW - exceptions are the attack mode and the fan boost phase. Anyone who now wants to compare these figures with those of Formula 1: In the narrow city circuits it's hardly possible to drive at full throttle anyway. Of course, the acceleration of the e-car is truly breathtaking. The SRT-05E goes from 0 to 100 in 2.8 seconds. A new generation is then planned for the 2022/23 season: The Gen3 race cars from Spark Ra-cing Technology will then deliver 476 hp (350 kW), and 408 hp (300 kW) in the race.

7. The digital attack 

Attack at the push of a button: To make Formula E more exciting, Attack Mode was introduced for the 2018/19 season. The driver briefly has more power at his disposal during the race to overtake other cars or defend his position. The power of the car can increase from 200 kW (272 hp) to 235 kW (320 hp) within this mode. To activate the mode, the driver must press a button on the steering wheel to arm the system. He then drives off the racing line through an Attack zone with three activation strips. When attack mode is triggered, the LED lights on the safety bar above the cockpit pulse in blue. 

8. The unique fan boost 

This really only exists in Formula E: the Fanboost. Spectators can actively influence the race. On the website (https://fanboost.fiaformulae.com), viewers can vote for their favorite driver for six days. In the second half of the race, the five drivers with the most votes are allowed to increase the power of the vehicle once to a maximum of 250 kW - enough thrust for a short overtaking maneuver or for a longer sprint with less power. Activation of the fan boost is indicated by purple LEDs on the halo safety bar.

9. The famous drivers

If you're interested in racing and big names: just read through the former and current drivers of Formula E. Nelson Piquet Jr, son of three-time Formula 1 world champion Nel-son Piquet, was the overall winner of the first season in 2014/15. Bruno Senna, nephew of Ayrton Senna, raced in Formula E, as did Nicholas Prost, eldest son of four-time Formula 1 champion Alain Prost. Currently, the racing series features former Formula 1 drivers Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler), Pascal Wehrlein (TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team), Sébastien Buemi (Nissan E.Dams) or Jean-Éric Vergne (DS Techeetah). At Team Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, René Rast, three-time DTM champion, has recently joined the grid.

10. The current champion

His name: Jean-Éric Vergne. His team: DS Techeetah. The Frenchman has already secured the Formula E championship twice, winning the championship in the 2017/18 season and the 2018/19 season, making him the most successful driver in the electric racing series in terms of titles.

11. The king by scores

The Brazilian Lucas di Grassi from Team Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler scored the most points. At the beginning of the season he already had 737 points to his credit. In contrast Sébastien Buemi recorded the most victories - 13 in all. Naturally, the points chase continues with Vergne and Buemi hot on Grassi's heels.

12. The green electricity

Where does the electricity for the cars come from? After all, the racing series wants to stand for sustainability. The answer is that the electricity for the racing cars does not come from the wall socket, but from modern KTA50 generators from the British company Aquafuel. These are filled in a CO2-neutral manner with glycerine, a transparent and tasteless sugar alcohol. The glycerine releases no greenhouse gases when burned and emits only ten percent of the particulates and nitrogen oxides of diesel fuel. By the way, all Formula E race cars can be recharged within 50 minutes.

13. The Roborace 

Want a little more of the future? Because Formula E continues to test the limits of what is conceivable, the first driverless car was launched in May 2017. The autonomously driving Robocar drove the 1.9 kilometer track of the ePrix in Paris and made history. Ge-planned is an entire racing series called Roborace, Lucas di Grassi has been CEO since 2017. And yes, there are also teams, although the vehicle is controlled by artificial intelligence. But that has to be programmed. Ten teams are planned, each with two vehicles. The unit vehicle was designed by Daniel Simon, who designed the futuristic vehicles from "Tron: Legacy".

14. The dough

You shouldn't believe everything you read, but according to a report by the digital motorsport channel "The Race," the average earnings of drivers in Formula E are said to be around 750,000 euros per year, with top stars earning two million euros per season. Incidentally, average salaries in the first racing season in 2014/15 were still around 350,000 euros. In other words, the greater the importance of Formula E worldwide, the higher the earnings. These figures become a bit absurd when you know that there is an official cost cap of 3.5 million U.S. dollars per season so that Formula E remains affordable for the teams.

15. The most absurd punishments

That's how it can go: Andre Lotterer collected no less than four penalties in his first race of 2017/18 in Formula E in Hong Kong. First, his team forgot to remove the cooling system in time on the grid: a five-second pit stop penalty. Then, in the race, Lotterer cut the chicane twice: two more drive-through penalties. When he forgot to switch off the car after the race, he was disqualified. His comment afterwards: "I'm actually used to hearing the engine." To be fair, it's worth mentioning that Lucas di Grassi also went down in Formula E history for wearing the wrong underwear in the sixth race of the 2017/2018 season in Uruguay. Penalty: 10,000 euros and three penalty points.

16. The (few) tires

If a racing series is to protect the environment, the tires have to take a hit, too. For Formula E, there is only one 18-inch all-weather tire from Michelin. Previously, each driver had eight new front and rear tires per race day; in the 2021 season, there will only be six. And: In the Gen3 era starting at the end of 2022, Hankook will replace Michelin, the previous standard supplier. Then the drivers will only have one new set of tires for the entire race day. The joy about the further restriction is very limited.

Rast racing Detail
Rast racing Detail

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SONAX is the proud sponsor of the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffer team in Formula E. We bring technical innovation to the road in a brilliant manner - out of love for the car, for driving, and for progress.

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