Why you should be watching Formula E
What is Formula E?
Formula E is a single-seater form of motorsport, using pure-electric thoroughbred race cars, racing in countries around the world. The 2017/2018 season consists of 12 races, in locations such as Hong Kong, Paris, New York and more.
The events are primarily held on street circuits, which enables fans to get close to the action and see racing in places where building a permanent race track is not usually possible, such as Rome city centre.
There are 10 teams competing, each fielding two cars. A mix of established car manufacturers and EV start-ups take part, such as DS, Audi, Renault, Jaguar, NIO and Techeetah. Drivers include ex-F1 stars Sébastien Buemi, Lucas di Grassi and Jean-Eric Vergne, LeMans winner Andre Lotterer and touring car star Jose Maria Lopez.
Why is Formula E a motorsport on the up?
The main reason Formula E is increasing in popularity and stature is thanks to the electric drivetrain in the cars. As more road cars become hybridised or pure-EV, Formula E is becoming more relevant. Car manufacturers can relate to new road-going products and sponsors can benefit from partnering a sport that is promoting green energy.
The cars utilise a standard battery pack with power of at least 190 kW — rising to 250 kW in the upcoming 2018/19 season — to provide rapid performance. The chassis and batteries of each car are the same across the field, but teams are allowed to create and design their own electric motor, inverter, gearbox and cooling systems. The race to develop the best system is well and truly on, emphasising research and development.
It also helps that the racing is close and frenetic. The aerodynamic parts of the Formula E cars are more robust than many other single-seater formulas. Combined with the tight street circuits, it allows a certain degree of rubbishing without any damage. This creates some spectacular action, with close finishes and last-minute late-braking dives aplenty.
Finally, fan interaction is really unique. Before each race, fans can vote for their favourite driver via social media. The drivers with the highest votes before each race receive extra power for their car in the form of FanBoost. Therefore, viewers can directly affect the outcome of a race.
Are Total involved in Formula E?
Of course! We couldn't pass up the opportunity to partner one of the leading teams on the grid. Total works with the DS Virgin Racing team, with drivers Sam Bird and Alex Lynn. At the time of writing, Sam Bird has won two races and also finished third on three separate occasions this season, making him firmly in contention for the overall championship.
In order to avoid the electric motor from overheating during the stress of the race, and therefore losing performance, the advanced Total Research Centre at Solaize has developed specific coolants for DS Virgin Racing. When combined with a dedicated transmission lubricant by Total, this helps reduce the amount of electrical energy used during a race, enabling the drivers to go faster for longer.
How does this help everyday Total customers?
It is often said that competition breeds excellence, and nowhere is that truer than in Formula E. Battery and electric motor technology is pushed to the limit, every ounce of energy is used to try and best rivals. This constant requirement for improvement drives forward the development of electrified road car technologies.
Total is not simply a sponsor of the DS Virgin Racing team, but a development partner, working hard to develop new technology to succeed on the track. Our learnings here can be directly translated into road-going products.
Rest assured, as electrification of cars and vans continues to increase, Total is hard at work developing lubrication for the next generation of automobiles.