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Audi Sport wins 1st FIA Formula E race in Beijing

Lucas di Grassi, FIA Formula E Beijing (Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team). Click to enlarge.

Audi factory driver Lucas di Grassi and the Audi Sport ABT Formula E team won the inaugural event of the new all-electric FIA Formula E Championship in Beijing. (Next weekend, di Grassi will return to the cockpit of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro hybrid sports car in round four of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Austin). The inaugural round of the 10-race season of the global electric race series was closely contested throughout. Winding round the Bird’s Nest stadium built to host the 2008 Olympic Games, the Beijing course supplied all usual ingredients of a city-center circuit, with a succession of straights, chicanes and 90° bends.

For this inaugural season, the entire field is competing in Spark-Renault STR01E single-seaters. (Earlier post.) Spark-Renault, together with a consortium of leading motorsport companies, produced 40 cars for the race, with each driver using two cars during the 1-hour event. Thirty-five of the 40 cars entered crossed the finishing line without incident.


The racer. Dallara, with more than 40 years of motorsport experience, constructed the monocoque chassis, aerodynamically designed to aid overtaking. Made from carbon fibre and aluminium, the chassis is both super lightweight and strong and fully complies with the latest FIA crash tests—the same used to regulate Formula One.

Providing the electric powertrain and electronics is McLaren Electronics Systems. Williams Advanced Engineering, part of the Williams group of companies that includes the Williams F1 Team, is supplying the batteries producing maximum power of 200 kW, the equivalent of 270 bhp. This is linked to a five-speed paddle shift sequential gearbox, supplied by Hewland, with fixed ratios.

Maximum power is available only during practice and qualifying sessions. During races, power-saving mode (150 kW, equivalent to 202.5 bhp) applies with the FanBoost system temporarily allowing maximum power of 180 kW for a limited time of 5 seconds per car.

The racer accelerates from 0 - 100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 3 seconds, and has a maximum speed of 225 km/h (150 mph).

The traction battery is a Rechargeable Energy Storage System (RESS) and supplies electric energy to the Power Circuit and thus to the traction motor. Any onboard battery electrically connected to the Power Circuit is considered to be an integral part of the vehicle’s traction battery. The amount of energy that can be delivered to the MGU (motor generator unit) by the RESS is limited to 28 kWh. This is permanently monitored by the FIA.

The maximum weight of the battery cells and/or capacitor of the RESS must not be higher than 200 kg (441 lbs).

Specially designed 18" treaded tires, supplied by Official Tire Partner Michelin, are capable of providing optimum performance in both wet and dry conditions.

Beijing. Starting from pole position, Nicolas Prost (e.dams Renault) made the perfect start to lead into the opening corner. He went on to dominate most of the 25-lap race before a clash ended his hopes of victory on the final lap, handing the win to Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT). The fastest lap was taken by Takuma Sato (Amlin Aguri) in 1:45.101.

Despite the closeness of safety barriers, the characteristics of the Spark-Renault SRT01_E enabled the drivers to outbrake one another at the corners.

What an exciting first Formula E race ! This is a real achievement for all the partners who have worked on this project. Despite the test sessions held in recent weeks, there was still a degree of uncertainty involved, linked to the start of the competition proper. By holding the practice sessions, qualifying and the race all on the same day, it has been an intense few hours for the teams, drivers and organizers. I think Renault Sport can be very pleased with how things went today, as there were no major technical problems on the forty single-seaters.

—Patrice Ratti, Managing Director of Renault Sport Technologies

  1. Lucas di Grassi (Audi Sport ABT) 25 laps
  2. Franck Montagny (Andretti) +2.867
  3. Sam Bird (Virgin Racing) +6.559
  4. Charles Pic (Andretti) +19.301
  5. Karun Chandhok (Mahindra Racing) +23.952
  6. Jérôme d:Ambrosio (Dragon Racing) +31.664
  7. Oriol Servia (Dragon Racing) +41.968
  8. Nelson Piquet Jr. (China Racing) +43.896
  9. Stéphane Sarrazin (Venturi) +43.975
  10. Daniel Abt (Audi Sport ABT) +1:02.507



Is this a game changer? Will ICE racing cars be banned (in and near large cities) in the near future?

Dave R

It was an exciting race. I'm looking forward to seeing how the cars evolve over the years as battery technology improves and allows for more power and higher speeds. I was a bit skeptical of how the car change would work out, but the way they did it worked out well.

Those curbs are dangerous! Nick Heidfeld luckily walked away from the crash without incident, but it's easy to see how it could have been worse with the curb launching his car into the air on the final corner.


That scared the hell out of me. I literally thought Nick might be dead as it looked like he slammed into that barrier top of the cockpit first.
The FIA may have a lot of issues, but they sure do know how to spec out a tub for safety these days. The only good thing that came out of Senna's death: They finally took safety seriously.

The race was excellent for a first try. They have SO many things to work on to improve, but I'll give them credit. For a first race, for a new series, with the whole thing (track, pits, broadcast, electronics, media centers, and not to mention brand new technology with EV single seaters :-) was amazing that 35 of the 40 cars completed their assigned part of the race.

Now, let's get some new battery tech, SiC or GaAs electronics for efficiency, weight, cooling, etc, more powerful motors, a little more grip on those tires...and in about 3-5 years this will be an awesome series!

But seriously, they have to fix the broadcast. There is a LOT of low hanging fruit to make better there. But I'm not complaining, at least they've got good coverage in most of the world.

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