Formula E launches new Spark-Renault at Frankfurt Motor Show


Buildup for the new FIA Formula E championship, the all-electric single-seater series set to debut in September 2014, continued Tuesday with the launch of its new Spark-Renault SRT_01E at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

A test car has already had demonstration runs – notably in Los Angeles the day after IndyCar’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – but this marks the car’s official introduction.

It’s a Dallara-built, carbon fiber and aluminum monocoque chassis with McLaren Electronic Systems providing the electric motor, and gearbox. Custom-made 18-inch tires have been built by Michelin. Spark will build 42 cars with each driver set to use two over the course of a one-hour race.

“The innovative technology deployed follows the best environmental practices, highlighting the potential of the Formula E Championship to spark a revolution in the development of new electromobility systems, not just for motorsport but also for everyday use,” FIA President Jean Todt said in a series release. “This new championship builds on the FIA’s traditional role as a leading promoter of innovation, technology and performance in the automotive sector.”

There’s been two other bits to emerge from a corporate side for Formula E just in the last couple days, as well. DHL was announced on Tuesday as part of a “multiyear global partnership” providing the series’ logistics services. The partnership makes sense on the surface given the planned entry from Andretti Autosport, who has DHL as a sponsor of Ryan Hunter-Reay’s IndyCar.

Additionally, Qualcomm has signed on as Official Founding Technology Partner of the championship. Qualcomm’s new and sustainable technologies are planned to be integrated into the series.

The series is now roughly a year from its first race and has several teams planning entry, including Andretti, and also has Gil de Ferran as a series ambassador. It now has several pieces of its 2014 puzzle put together.

Mercedes: F1 teams need to work together to avoid split

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said Friday that Formula One teams have a responsibility to try to overcome their differences over the future of the sport in the face of a threat by Ferrari to quit because of a number of proposed changes.

Bernie Ecclestone, who ran F1 for 40 years before being replaced by new owners Liberty Media last year, has raised the possibility that Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne could walk away from F1 and form a breakaway series over Liberty’s future vision for the sport.

Ferrari is unhappy with Liberty’s proposal to simplify engines and redistribute prize money among F1 teams after the current contract with teams expires at the end of 2020.

Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene would not comment on the specifics of Marchionne’s previous comments at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Friday, but said: “My only suggestion, please take him seriously.”

Wolff is also taking the possibility of Ferrari walking away seriously. He told Britain’s Press Association before the Australian GP that he agreed with Marchionne’s concerns and that Formula One can’t afford to alienate Ferrari or lose the team.

“Don’t mess with Sergio Marchionne,” he said. “Formula One needs Ferrari much more than Ferrari needs Formula One.”

Wolff was more diplomatic on Friday, saying he hopes all sides could come together for the good of the sport.

“I think this as much a battle on track as much as it is a fight off track for an advantage,” he said. “It is clear the current governance and how the rules are being made is not very functional. There’s too much different opinions and agendas on the table and we need to sort it for 2021 for the best interest of the sport.”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner agreed there are too many competing agendas, suggesting that the FIA-Formula One’s governing body-and Liberty Media come together to decide on a set of regulations and financial framework for the next contract and the teams can then decide if they want to accept it or not.

“Trying to get a consensus between teams that have varying objectives, different set-ups, is going to be impossible,” he said. “It’s history repeating itself. It happens every five or six years, every time the Concorde Agreement comes up for renewal.”

Tempers also flared during Friday’s media conference over another issue of contention between the teams – Ferrari’s recent hiring of FIA’s ex-safety director, Laurent Mekies.

Horner believes Ferrari broke an agreement among teams at a recent meeting to institute a 12-month waiting period for any former employee of FIA or FOM (Formula One Management) to be able to start working for one of F1’s teams. The concern is that former FIA staff who go to work for a specific team could share secrets from other teams.

“Certain teams were pushing for that period to be three years, but in the end it was agreed upon being 12 months,” he said. “It almost makes those meetings pointless if we can’t agree on something and action it.”

Arrivabene defended Ferrari’s move, saying Mekies would not join its team until after a six-month “gardening leave” period.

“There is nothing wrong with that because we were absolutely respecting the local law, the Swiss local law where Laurent was hired,” he said.