When invited to the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, the last thing you think of is it would be for a motor racing event. However tenuous the links between the Roundhouse and Formula E are, it was a great location to showcase the ten cars in their finished liveries. Attended by some of motorsports racing greats, including Emerson Fittipaldi, Frank Williams, Damon Hill and many ex-Formula One drivers and current racing champions, the event was highlighted by new announcements during the evening.
Introducing the evening were the host, David Garrido and Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E. Beginning with a short video, the audience was treated to a sneak peak of what Formula E will look like when racing around the city streets of London next year, on 27th June 2015 (see video above). Racers took to the empty streets to strut their stuff and perform the inevitable doughnuts over Westminster Bridge.Formula E’s CEO Alejandro Agag said:
“Tonight has been a very special milestone in the journey of Formula E and I’d like to thank everyone for their continued support. As our first race draws closer, it’s fantastic to see the new era of motorsport come to life. Since September when we first unveiled the car, we’ve come such a long way and now have circuits, teams, drivers, broadcasters, and of course our founding partners; Michelin, Tag Heuer, Renault, Qualcomm and DHL – who delivered the cars here today. Next month will see our first test days where we already have 3,000 members of the public registered to come and see, but also, hear what we believe will be the future of motorsport. We are very excited about the start of the season and very pleased to be taking further steps forward by announcing new partners, drivers and of course our London race venue.”
One of the first announcements made was that fanboost has been turned on already, allowing fans to vote for their favourite racing driver in order to give them an additional push-to-pass boost. While critics have disregarded this feature as an unnecessary gimmick, others have welcomed the interaction that it adds to a race in which fans would otherwise wimply be a spectator. Visit the website here: fanboost.fiaformulae.com to vote for your favourite driver.
The e.dams Formula E team spearheaded by Formula One legend Alain Prost and co-founder Jean-Paul Driot have been joined by Renault Sport Technologies as their major sponsor, thus rebranding the team name to e.dams Renault. Renault’s involvement with the sport is well known, with the development of the Spark-Renault SRT_01E overseen by the French firm. Renault is the only firm to have been involved with the car’s development that has gone on to form [part of] a Formula E team.
Following the team announcement, the two drivers were announced as being Sébastian Buemi and Nicolas Prost. Buemi is well known for his driving in Formula One and this year he has taken a seat in a Toyota TS040 hybrid for the highly competitive World Endurance Championship that recently raced at Le Mans 24 Hours. Nicolas Prost on the other hand has had most of his driving experience in the Le Mans Series and over the years has progressively gone up the rankings finishing 1st at the Petit Le Mans in the WEC race of 2013 in the ALMS class. Also in 2013, Nicolas took up the role of development driver for Lotus F1 Team, a role which he continues today.
Next on stage was Jarno Trulli, the most recent to join Formula E, having taken over the title from Lord Paul Drayson who’s Drayson Racing will still be heavily involved with the team but only in a support capacity. Trulli was proud to announce his co-driver for the inaugural season as being Michela Cerruti, the second female Formula E driver. Michela is an Italian racer who currently drives a BMW Z4 GT3 in the Auto GP World Series, the most recent race of which she won. Michela said she was extremely excited to drive for TrulliGP and in Formula E and looked forward to driving an electric car for the first time!
Greenpower Education Trust
Jeremy Way, CEO Greenpower Education Trust was next on the stage, joined by a couple of young racers, Reece Bawden and Natasha Layley – former winners of the Greenpower race. The announcement was made that Greenpower will act as support race to each and every Formula E city race, making for a prestigious opportunity for young drivers to get involved. The announcement was accompanied by the unveiling of a new Greenpower race car. The Trust aims to promote awareness of green power solutions, particularly to young people and introduce racing to them at the same time.
Following on from this, BMW was announced as official support vehicle sponsor, providing both a hybrid i8 and electric i3 vehicles. The obvious suggestion is the BMW i8 will act as pace car during the championship and the i3 as general support. The accompaniment of BMW to Formula E came as a bit of a surprise as previously there had been no sign of BMW joining in on the fun, despite Audi Sport ABT being one of the other teams. It is of course possible, and speculative, that BMW may enter into the second season in order to enhance promotion of their electrified vehicle range, BMWi.
It is well known that London will serve, and has already served, as a major attraction of the Formula E race series. In the video above, permission was granted to close off Westminster Bridge for the promotion of the series, an occasion not easily achieved. The UK in general has served Formula E greatly already, with Alejandro Agag stating that in no uncertain terms, without the support of the UK motorsports industry, Formula E would not have been possible. London is set to be the last race of the season which may make it an instant classic where title’s are won or lost. The venue up until now has been kept a secret, with rumours of it taking place around Wembley. However, the rumours were false and it has now been confirmed by both Alejandro Agag and The Deputy Mayor of London Sir Edward Lister that the race will take place on the streets around Battersea Park. Minister for Business & Enterprise, Michael Fallon took the stage to state their support and encouragement for the series’ success as well as to further the UK motorsport’s contribution to Formula E.
After the announcements had finished flowing, opportunity was made to speak to the teams and their drivers. We will be attending the testing on 3rd July at Donington Park and look forward to bringing you some interviews in the coming weeks.
Photo credits: Jonathan Musk & Renault UK Limited for e.dams Renault photo of Nicolas Prost & Sébastian Buemi.