“Let the revolution, begin. With a crash.”

Hey folks, Dre here again, and I’m still a little tired from setting my alarm clock for 8am, for the inaugural race weekend of the brand new Formula E, the home of the first Electric Motorsport World Championship. The race was action packed enough, but what did I make of the everything else? The pit stops, the music, the presentation, the coverage and the overall spectacle? Is the future,

electric for Formula E? Standby as I give you my breakdown and first impressions, of the Beijing ePrix of 2014!

So, the race itself first of all, and while it did drag a little bit in the middle portions, overall, I thought it was a pretty good race. I wasn’t keen on the track irself at all, it doesn’t help that it’s brand new and hard to get your bearings of what corner comes after what, but the placement of the some of the barriers and the sausage kerbs on the final corner annoyed me.

The racing itself was of a high standard, and I’m glad from that aspect, that it delivered. I was always very high on the roster, a nice blend of younger and older drivers, male and female, from a wide range of the Motorsport spectrum, including drivers I’ve never seen before. There was some great passes from Montagny and Chandhok to name a few, and despite the relatively low speed of the cars, they were able to make it work.

And 16 of the 20 cars finished, and only 2 of the 4 had actual mechanical retirements, so a good sign for the reliability of the series, especially considering every race has two cars involved, doubling the chances of issues cropping up.

Obviously, a big talking point of the race was the final corner crash between Nicolas Prost, who had dominated the race, and Nick Heidfeld, who had made a late charge in his Venturi car. Prost failed to see Heidfeld’s passing attempt into the final turn, and as a result, Heidfeld spun, launched off the side of the sausage kerb and flipped upside down. Thankfully, he was perfectly okay, and obviously, pretty hacked off with Prost’s ignorant defensive attempt. This allowed Lucas di Grassi to take the inaugural Formula ePrix win! Not the way I’m sure he would have liked, but I’m sure he’d take it.

Prost was initially ignorant, but later admitted responsibility after seeing the replay, apologizing for the incident, receiving a 10 place grid penalty for the next GP in Malaysia for causing a collision. A newsworthy and spectacular moment that definitely got people talking, and with the next race two months away, they all the publicity they can get. More on that later.

So, with that taken care of, let’s move on the nitty gritty and the finer details. We Motorsport fans are a pretentious bunch at the best of times, especially us Brits – We love to complain about EVERYTHING. So let’s break down the little details and see what’s what, and whether I think it works for the sport:

Formula E 2
The Car Noise – Guys, they’re electric racing cars, what the hell were you expecting? Turbo hiss?! They were never going to be roaring V12’s of the F1 Turbo era now were they? For what its worth, in my opinion, they sounded like the old remote control cars I had as an 8 year old in the park. I thought they were fine. They were a little quiet, but so are the F1 engines this year, and we all stopped bitching about that by Round 3.

The In-Race Music – Or the “Formula E-J”, as they so

wittingly called it. … Again, I didn’t think it was bad or anything. Just felt a little low-rent and tacky, like it was a
bad hollywood movie. It didn’t really add anything, but it didn’t really annoy me either. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. However, I applaud Formula E and Agag for trying something different. In an industry where we moan about entertainment (A LOT), ideas like this we should embrace, even if you don’t like them.

The Track(s) – I’m on the fence on this one. Beijing’s “Box” Circuit wasn’t all that. It had awkwardly placed barriers, sausage kerbs and it was confusing…But I really don’t think a series like this would work as well on conventional circuit tracks. I’ll pass judgement till we see more new tracks in the works, but hopefully, it’ll improve as time goes on. Less 90 degree corners and chicanes would be nice, mind. (Anyone else notice the MASSIVE lack of fans?)

The Fan Boost – Now this is what many call a deal breaker. I’m not so sure yet. We didn’t see very much of the “Fan Boost” in the race this time around, because the three drivers who won, didn’t see much action. Bruno Senna got collected on Lap 1, Katherine Legge was off the pace and outside of the points, and Lucas Di Grassi didn’t really have a key overtake where the Fan Boost made the difference.

Now, I don’t agree with turning ANY sport into a popularity contest and enabling us fans to go drunk with power, but on the other end of the scale, but whether it will actually directly affect a race result remains to be seen, so let’s give it a chance eh? We might all be over-blowing this one a tad.

The cars were too slow? – Yes, because GP2/3 cars set the world on fire. Seriously, the cars are no slower than Formula Ford cars, and other entry level series, so that’s not a valid complaint in my book.

Jann Mardenborough - ITV4 Formula E (1)
The coverage – I liked ITV’s overall presentation, a lot. A shame they couldn’t show practise and qualifying, but I think their overall package was sound. Jennie Gow has improved SO much from her MotoGP days and was a solid in studio anchor, as well as Jann Mardenborough as a race pundit for the driving element. And great to see Jack Nicholls get to commentate as well, I remember watching him on FSR on YouTube and seeing him commentate on the world stage is awesome. He and Dario Franchitti had great chemistry and the race went smoothly.

A shame some of the World Feed’s graphics were a little inaccurate, on elements like battery level, but I can understand some first race gremlins. Also, the treatment of Daniel Abt’s penalty post race was a little sloppy, but overall, a great first effort and it will only get better in time.

The Pit Stops – Yeah, this could get confusing. I didn’t know there was a MINIMUM pit stop time, and the pit stops end up being so long, that the drivers effectively lose a lap, with Beijing’s stops taking around 110 seconds. I don’t mind there being a lengthy stop, you gotta understand, they’re changing cars, but there’s also a safety element, and you have to be strapped in properly, and you shouldn’t have to put your crew under pressure to get you out as quickly as possible.

The Calendar – Yeah, this is an issue. You’d think a new Motorsport series would WANT to hit the ground running and kick on with its launch, after generating so much buzz on it’s opening race… But now we have to wait two months till the 2nd race. The buzz would have gone by then, and you want as many mouths on this as possible, it’s so important at launch. A shame.

So what did I make of it all? I think Formula E’s off to a great start. It’s far from perfect, and here’s hoping that things DO improve, I think a few minor tweaks and the FIA are onto a winner here, but the series has had a great start in my opinion, and I think will only get better. Let me know what you thought of Formula E’s debut race in the comments, and thanks for reading!