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FIA Formula E confirms nine homologated manufacturers from 2018

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The fifth season of the FIA Formula E Championship is hailed as a landmark season for the emerging electric, open-wheel series. The next round of technological enhancements will see the cars drop from two cars used to one per race, to go along with advances to the powertrain, and that will fall into line with the new cycle of homologation for the chassis and battery.

Nine manufacturers have been homologated for that three-year period starting with season five, 2018-2019, through to season seven of 2020-2021.

Confirmed manufacturers are:

  • ABT Formel E
  • BMW AG
  • DS Automobiles
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Mahindra Racing
  • NextEV NIO
  • Penske Autosport
  • Renault
  • Venturi Automobiles

Noteworthy here is the inclusion of Penske Autosport as a name – Jay Penske’s Dragon Racing team, in partnership with Faraday Future, has been on the grid since the series’ inception but not with the Penske name.

Additionally, Mercedes isn’t present at the moment. Mercedes signed an agreement in October 2016 where it had the option to enter the championship for season five. The lack of Mercedes being listed here does not mean they won’t race but it could mean it’s just a customer entry.

Alas, the significant increase in manufacturer involvement speaks to the growth of the championship and has exceeded Formula E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag’s forecasted predictions.

“The mission of the FIA Formula E Championship is to act as a platform to advance the development of electric vehicle technology and alternative energy solutions – this hinges on the participation of automotive and component manufacturers,” Agag said in a release.

“When we launched the series in 2012, we had forecast to secure at least three manufacturers by season Five. The news today has highlighted the number and quality of manufacturers joining the championship and tripling our initial expectations. This just goes to show the relevance of Formula E to the motor industry and as an attractive proposition to new audiences and commercial partners, such as the recent agreement with Allianz.”

Esteban Gutierrez confirmed at Techeetah Formula E

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Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez’s team of choice has been confirmed for the balance of the FIA Formula E Championship third season. He’ll run with the Techeetah team, having been announced there today. Gutierrez joins FE after three race seasons and one reserve season in F1, having most recently competed with Haas F1 Team last year in its debut year.

Gutierrez replaces Ma Qing Hua in the active race lineup alongside Jean-Eric Vergne starting from the Mexico City ePrix to be held on April 1, Ma having been relegated to third driver.

“I am very grateful to join Techeetah, a team with real competitiveness,” Gutierrez said in a release. “After four years of incredible experience in F1, I’m now taking a step forward in the future of motorsports. I am especially excited about my debut race in Mexico City. Hopefully I can put on a good show for the passionate home fans.”

Managing director Ivan Yim added, “We are delighted to welcome Esteban to Techeetah. We will have Esteban as prepared as possible for his home race. With the passionate Mexican fans awaiting in the stadium section, the Techeetah team is highly motivated with its new driver lineup.”

Berlin to host Formula E double-header in place of Brussels

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Formula E has confirmed that the Berlin ePrix will be a double-header race weekend following the cancellation of the Brussels event.

The race in Brussels was set to take place on July 1, only for the regional government to vote against it being held in the city center, putting the event at risk of falling off the calendar. The race was officially canceled for 2017 on Thursday.

To ensure the calendar for season three stays at 12 races, Formula E has confirmed that the Berlin weekend will now feature two races: one on Saturday June 10, the second on Sunday June 11.

Berlin’s format will mirror the double-header weekends run in London through Formula E’s first two seasons, and means that the final three events will feature two races. Both New York (July 15-16) and Montreal (July 29-30) were already planned to be double-headers.

The Berlin event will return to its season one location of Tempelhof Airport after city officials voted against it returning to Karl-Marx-Allee, where it was staged last year.

The addition of a race on the Sunday places greater pressure on a number of drivers and personnel who will be traveling to Le Mans in France ahead of the 24-hour race the following weekend.

Most had planned to use the Sunday as a travel day before the start of Le Mans festivities on the Monday, but will now face a tighter schedule to make the trip from Berlin.

Updated 2016/2017 Formula E Calendar

1. Hong Kong – October 9
2. Marrakesh – November 12
3. Buenos Aires – February 18
4. Mexico City – April 1
5. Monaco – May 13
6. Paris – May 20
7. Berlin – June 10
8. Berlin – June 11
9. New York – July 15
10. New York – July 16
11. Montreal – July 29
12. Montreal – July 30

Felipe Massa held talks with Jaguar over Formula E drive

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Felipe Massa has confirmed that he held talks with Jaguar concerning a Formula E drive for 2017 before making a surprise return to Formula 1 with Williams.

Massa announced last September that he would be retiring from F1 at the end of 2016, making way for 18-year-old Lance Stroll to claim his seat at Williams alongside Valtteri Bottas.

Massa was handed an unexpected reprieve when Mercedes approached Bottas to replace world champion Nico Rosberg following his surprise retirement, with the Brazilian’s comeback being made official in January.

Never keen to retire from racing completely, Massa had been exploring options in other championships including Formula E, and confirmed in Barcelona earlier this week that he did hold talks with Jaguar regarding a seat.

“[Formula E] was something that I was thinking for my future. My plan was to keep racing, so I had already decided to do this test to know the car,” Massa said.

“I even read that I already had a contract. I didn’t have anything to be honest. I didn’t have any contract. For sure some talks, and I decided to do this test with Jaguar. I didn’t cancel it. I just went there to know the car and to try it.

“It was nice, it was a nice feeling. For sure very different to what we used to here, completely different car, completely different mentality of so many different things. But I think it was nice, learning a different category, learning a different car.”

While a move into Formula E after his F1 career remains an option, Massa said that he will take no decision on his future for the time being and will focus on his duties with Williams for as long as he can.

“It was an option, Formula E. I didn’t take any decision. Now for sure, I will not take any decision now,” Massa said.

“But now I have no idea what’s going to happen. I decided to come back to Formula 1. I have no idea what’s going to happen, if I will stay [beyond 2017]. I have the same mentality as I said last year.

“If I can stay, if I feel fit, that I’m competitive, that I can do a good job and I have some good opportunities to stay in Formula 1, maybe I’ll stay.”

Roborace unveils ‘Robocar’ at Mobile World Congress

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Roborace has formally unveiled the ‘Robocar’ that will take part in the world’s first electric autonomous motorsport series in the near future.

Roborace was announced as a new support series for Formula E late in 2015, planning to push the boundaries of autonomous vehicle development through a racing championship.

Roborace has been present at Formula E rounds throughout season three, with its software being tested out on the ‘Devbot’, a self-driving Ginetta LMP3 car.

On Monday at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Roborace officially unveiled the Robocar, with CEO Denis Sverdlov expressing his pride at the launch.

“This is a huge moment for Roborace as we share the Robocar with the world and take another big step in advancing driverless electric technology,” Sverdlov said.

“I am so proud of the entire team and our partners and particularly the work Daniel has done creating this beautiful machine. It was very important for us that we created an emotional connection to driverless cars and bring humans and robots closer together to define our future.

“The progress with Devbot on track and building the Robocar in less than a year has been extraordinary and we cannot wait to continue the journey of learning with the Robocar.”

The Robocar was designed by Daniel Simon, who has created vehicles for Hollywood sci-fi films such as Tron Legacy and Oblivion. It has four 300kW motors and a 540kW battery, capable of producing speeds of almost 200 mph, according to Roborace.

“Roborace opens a new dimension where motorsport as we know it meets the unstoppable rise of artificial intelligence,” Simon said.

“Whilst pushing the boundaries of engineering, we styled every single part of the Robocar. We take special pride in revealing a functional machine that stays true to the initial concept shared, a rarity in automotive design and a testament of our determination. It’s a great feeling to set this free.”

Roborace plans to continue to test with its Devbots at Formula E rounds throughout 2017 before putting two Robocars on-track together towards the end of the year.