For Formula E teams, winning is almost secondary

formula e
Getty Images
0 Comments

Sure, Formula E teams want to win and make money. That’s a given. The big automobile manufacturers who fund the open-wheel electric cars that whir around tracks all over the world also have a bigger goal in mind: research and development.

Brand named automakers – from BMW to Audi to Jaguar – compete to create the best technology for their race cars, which look like the more popular, gas-guzzling Formula 1 racers but are powered by rechargeable batteries. The high-performance engineering is then used as a case study for the development of consumer car lines.

It’s a constant intellectual race to find the cheapest and highest-performing material for racing. Formula E regulations ensure it. Each car must be physically the same. The only difference between the cars is their electric battery. Developing the most efficient energy source is how teams win. That innovation is in turn used to develop cheaper consumer cars.

The same minds behind BMW’s i3 and i8 electric cars are behind the manufacturer’s Formula E team. That synergy between racing and consumer design is uniform across Formula E, which will finish its fifth season on Sunday in Brooklyn.

And other luxury car companies who fund teams in traditional racing leagues are catching on: Mercedes and Porsche will join Audi, BMW and Jaguar on the Formula E circuit next year.

In just five years, work in the Formula E lab has led to concrete change in consumer electric automobiles.

Audi recently unveiled a car with an 800-volt battery system based on technology it developed from its Formula E team. All current cars on the market are under 400 volts. A higher volt count means more efficiency, less weight and quicker charging. It also means, at a baseline level, cheaper cars.

“The next generation of electric cars will be using that level of voltage,” said Sylvain Filippi, Virgin Racing’s chief technology officer.

Filippi stressed that Virgin Racing is a “renewable energy company that goes racing.”

“If this was Formula 1, I wouldn’t be doing it,” he told The Associated Press. “I wouldn’t be interested.”

The International Energy Agency projects that 125 million electric cars will hit the road by 2030, up from 5.6 million in 2019.

The leading manufacturers know that, in order for electric cars to take hold in broader society, governmental incentive is important, but advancement must start with the producers. Developing cheaper, more efficient cars will lead to more people buying them, which then puts more clean-energy automobiles on the streets. It’s a method that Formula E thinks can incrementally combat climate change.

“We are getting enormous technology feedback from there,” Dilbagh Gill, CEO of Mahindra Racing, said in a statement. “Formula E is our laboratory.”

But, of course, basic economics take precedent, and the manufacturers in Formula E have not yet perfected that part of the equation. It is still not universally cost efficient for the basic consumer to invest in an electric car.

The average cost of an EV in 2018 was $38,775, according to a study conducted by Kelley Blue Book. For gas-powered vehicles, that cost was just over $20,000.

“It’s sad, but we’re in a world where you need to make the economic case work for everyone, otherwise we will not make progress,” Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said on a panel Friday. “People sadly are not going to do it for the good of people. They’re going to do it when there is a real economic gain for everyone.”

Formula E’s drivers know they are small players in a broader sociopolitical battle to normalize electric cars. Many are on board with the arrangement.

“It’s extremely good for all of us,” Nissan’s Oliver Rowland said.

BMW racer Alexander Sims is also on board. He stressed that governments must subsidize the current gap in price between electric and gasoline-driven vehicles. He used Norway as an example, where electric vehicles have the largest presence per capita in the world, according to the Norwegian Information Council for Road Traffic.

“The incentives are there for installing charging points at home and the cost of the EV initially is supported as such,” Sims said. “You see in Norway, when the policies are right, EVs outsell regular cars.”

Many drivers emphasized that creating eye-catching cars is the true first step to increasing EVs’ market share.

“My biggest goal and duty is to prove that electric cars are exciting, fun, cool, fast and sexy,” said Alex Lynn, Jaguar’s Formula E racer.

“I think it’s important to show the younger generations that EVs are cool, exciting and fun. And fast and reliable,” Virgin’s Sam Bird added. “Because in 10 years’ time, they’re going to be driving EVs.”

IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta: How to watch, start times, schedule, entry list

AUTO: NOV 13 IMSA - Motul Petit Le Mans
David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
0 Comments

Start times, TV schedule: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will conclude the 2022 season this weekend with the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta, which also will mark the end of the line for the DPi class.

The premier Daytona Prototype international category, which started in 2017, will be replaced by the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with its LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to Le Mans.

For the third time in four years, an Acura will be crowned the champion in DPi as the No. 10 of Wayne Taylor Racing holds a 19-point edge over the No. 60 of Meyer Shank Racing.

Last year, WTR’s No. 10 entered the season finale with a 19-point lead but lost the title to the No. 31 Cadillac of Action Express.

Full-time WTR drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor (who will be joined by Brendon Hartley in the No. 10 this weekend) have a series-leading four victories this season. The MSR duo of Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves this weekend) won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and have five runner-up finishes this year.

Championship scenarios in the other four categories:

GTD Pro: Points leaders Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet will clinch the title by starting in their No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.

–GTD: There are 140 points separating the top four teams with Roman De Angelis and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 leading by 45 points.

–LMP2: John Farano is first in the driver standings by 33 points over Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel. In the team standings, the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports leads by 19 points over the No. 8 Tower Motorsport (Farano’s team).

–LMP3: No. 54 CORE autosport drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun lead by 83 points over the No. 74 Riley Motorsports of Gar Robinson.

With the 10-hour race requiring an extra driver, several stars from other racing series have been added. In addition to Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay will serve as third drivers in Chip Ganassi Racing’s pair of Cadillacs.

Jimmie Johnson also will be making his last DPi start in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac with Mike Rockenfeller and Kamui Kobayashi. Petit Le Mans could mark the last start in an IMSA prototype for Johnson, who has said limited inventory likely will keep him out of the GTP category in the Rolex 24 next year.

Here are the start times, starting lineup, schedule and TV info for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (all times are ET):


Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta start times, schedule, TV info

When: Saturday, 12:10 p.m. ET

Race distance: Ten hours on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course

TV: Noon-3 p.m., NBC; 3-10:30 p.m., USA Network. Peacock, the NBC Sports App,and NBCSports.com will have streaming coverage of the event from flag to flag beginning at noon. Leigh Diffey and Dave Burns are the play by play announcers with analysts Calvin Fish, Townsend Bell, James Hinchcliffe and Brian Till. The pit reporters are Kevin Lee, Hannah Newhouse, Dillon Welch and Matt Yocum.

IMSA.com live TV qualifying stream: Friday, 3:35 p.m. ET.

IMSA Radio: All sessions are live on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com; SiriusXM live race coverage will begin Saturday at noon (XM 207, Internet/App 992).

Forecast: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 63 degrees with an 85% chance of rain at the green flag.

Entry list: Click here to see the 48-car field for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta


Daily schedule IMSA Petit Le Mans

Here’s a rundown of the Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia:

Wednesday, Sept. 28

9:30 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

10:25 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup

12:30 p.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

1:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practcice

2 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup practice

3:30 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

Thursday, Sept. 29

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

9 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup qualifying

9:50 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

11:40 a.m.: Prototype Challenge qualifying

12:10 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

1:50 p.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 1

2:55 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

5 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 1

6 p.m.: Michelin Challenge qualifying

7:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

Friday, Sept. 30

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge race

9:50 a.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 2

10:55 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 2

1:10 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race

3:40 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying

Saturday, Oct. 1

9:15 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

12:10 p.m.: Petit Le Mans