FIA Formula E has lifted the lid on the first eight drivers to fully endorse the sport and are potential drivers for the teams, though who they will drive for specifically is yet to be announced. The group of drivers is being called the Formula E Drivers’ Club and will feature 18 drivers as ten more will be announced in the coming weeks.
The list of eight is as follows; Sebastien Buemi, Marco Andretti, Karun Chandhok, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Adrien Tambay, Ma Qing Hua, Lucas di Grassi and Takuma Sato.
The point of the drivers club is to show the kind of racer likely to participate in the first season, set to being in September this year. Most of the eight announced drivers have Formula One backgrounds and/or other open wheel championships. China’s Ma Qing Hua has been a test driver for both HRT and Caterham F1. Meanwhile, USA racer Marco Andretti is one of IndyCar’s current top drivers, having finished fifth in 2013, while Frenchman Adrien Tambay has raced in Formula 3, GP3, Formula Renault 3.5 and more recently DTM.
Each of these drivers have given their official endorsement to the FIA Formula E championship, together with their willingness to race in the future should they be picked by teams. The drivers will be given track time in the new Spark-Renault SRT_01E Formula E car to familiarise themselves with driving an electric race car.
Alejandro Agag, CEO of series promoters Formula E Holdings, said:
“We’re delighted to be starting the New Year, which of course is a very important one for Formula E, on such a positive note by announcing our new Drivers’ Club. From the very beginning, we have set out to deliver great racing to fans across the globe and to do that you need high calibre drivers. Now that we’ve announced all 10 teams, everyone is keen to find out who the drivers will be. Of course, we cannot confirm any drivers just yet as it will be down to the individual teams to select who fills their seats. However, we hope by offering them a ‘pool’ of top international drivers to choose from – all of whom support the new series – we can deliver on this promise of providing close, entertaining racing in city-centres around the world. We also hope it will showcase to fans, TV broadcasters and potential sponsors the high profile names Formula E is attracting and the level of drivers they can expect to see race come September.”
Given the backgrounds of the drivers, it is likely to give Formula E’s inaugural season a good kick start as wheel to wheel action and a real drivers championship with many ex-F1 drivers is sure to entice many past and current Formula One fans to take interest in the sport. In a world where Formula One is often conceived as a stale and technical challenge, rather than a drivers race, Formula E is sure to offer a more driver focussed competition since each driver is in the same car meaning that it is all down to the driver to win.
“I’m very happy to be a part of the new Formula E Drivers’ Club. Motorsport should be seen to be the leader in developing and pushing new sustainable technologies so it will be great to see how this will influence not only motorsport but future road cars and the environment. The calendar is very strong and brings the racing to the fans, and the new Formula E car looks like it will be a lot of fun to drive.”
Marco Andretti said:
“This revolutionary racing series, paired with some of the world’s best drivers, competing in top cities, will set a new standard for motorsport. The advanced technology is exciting. I’m not entirely sure what to expect but, for me, that is the most interesting part of this experience – the unknown factor. I’m looking forward to the growth and development of Formula E and am happy to be named as part of the Drivers’ Club. I’m really looking forward to getting into the cockpit of one of these cars.”
Karun Chandhok said:
“Alejandro Agag has been a friend of mine for a number of years since our time in GP2. I’ve been speaking with him since the early days of Formula E and I’m very happy to be a part of the Drivers’ Club for the series. The calendar looks great, as do the cars and it should be a great new way to go motor racing.”
Takuma Sato added:
“I am very excited to be a part of the Drivers’ Club for the development of the Formula E cars. This series provides a huge potential for the future of motor racing and electric cars. I am sure that these fascinating new innovative multimedia contents will excite the new fans who will be watching this new series.”
Formula E is a new FIA Championship using electric single-seater race cars capable of speeds in excess of 140mph (225km/h) with acceleration from 0-60 in approximately 3 seconds. The series will compete in the heart of 10 of the world’s leading cities including London, Monaco and Beijing. Ten teams with two drivers per team will go head-to-head to create a unique and exciting racing series designed to appeal to a new generation of motorsport fan whilst accelerating the electric vehicle market and promoting sustainability. Races are likely to last around 45 minutes and include a change of car mid-way through to enable drivers to hop into a pre-charged car.
Quotes source; FIA Formula E