IT may not have been loud, but Formula E certainly began with a bang.
Nicolas Prost and Nick Heidfeld’s duel ended in a terrifying crash that saw the latter tumbling in the air at the last corner of the last lap, allowing Lucas di Grassi to win the first ever ePrix on the streets of Beijing.
The racing was tight. The racing was tense. You could almost say electrifying. The only thing I wasn’t struck on was the track itself. Beijing’s Olympic Green Circuit is never going to feature in anyone’s fantasy calendar put it that way.
But even curving straights leading up to right-angle corners was made entertaining by overtaking. There wasn’t excessive overtaking, but I predict it will see an increase as the all-street circuit championship continues.
But there are some aspects I’m not struck on at first glance.
Firstly, do the drivers really have to spend a certain amount of time in the pits? Why can’t they just drive off when they’ve been strapped into their new cars?
Secondly, I hate the concept of points (3) for pole-position. How much of an anti-climax could the ePrix in Berlin or London next summer be if the drivers’ championship is clinched in qualifying rather than the race? ITV4 didn’t broadcast the qualifying session for this morning’s race, so we may miss the championship deciding moment entirely.
Thirdly, does the championship have to be entirely run on street circuits? The series had its testing and even a non-championship race at Donington Park last month, so why not have a race day there? Or at Brands Hatch on the Indy Circuit? But this is the direction the series obviously wants to take, and it probably will win me over sooner rather than later.
Fourthly, the Fan-Boost for the most popular drivers can only end in tears in my opinion.
Finally, I can understand why there’s a DJ, the Formula EJ, to add sound to a rather quiet spectacle and to increase the tension of the (hopefully) young audience. But the same techno beat begins to grain as quickly as a Pirelli super-soft. You are not a DJ if you play the same tune over and over again. I think he should be practicing timing the famous bassline from Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain to coincide with the cars lining up on the grid and the red lights going out.
But apart from these issues, Formula E looks like it has a bright future ahead of it. I truly hope that this concept can keep its audience and avoid any financial difficulty. The last thing we want is another A1GP or Superleague Formula.
I eagerly await round two of the championship. Shame it’s over two months away though.
The remaining ePrix of the 2014-15 FIA Formula E championship are as follow:
- 22nd November: Putrajaya ePrix, Putrajaya Street Circuit, Malaysia.
- 13th December: Punta del Este ePrix, Punta del Este Street Circuit, Uruguay.
- 10th January 2015: Buenos Aires ePrix, Puerto Madero Street Circuit, Argentina.
- 14th March: Miami ePrix, Biscayne Bay, U.S.A.
- 4th April: Long Beach ePrix, Long Beach Street Circuit, U.S.A.
- 9th May: Monte Carlo ePrix, Circuit de Monaco, Monaco.
- 30th May: Berlin ePrix, Berlin Tempelhof Airport, Germany.
- 27th June: London ePrix, TBA, England.