Formula E Racing

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I didn't even know there was such a thing as Formula E electric car racing. I have no interest in auto racing, but what a great idea to promote EVs!
Come Elon, you got the bucks. Get a car in the race.... Sponsor one... build one. I'd love to go cheer on team Tesla!

I think all the cars are being built by Mercedes/McLaren so I'm not sure if Tesla would have the opportunity to build their own car. Guess they want to keep racing as equal as possible to start.

They should definitely sponsor a team though. They should get behind EV racing from the start. It will help their brand awareness and set the stage for a full team entry when permitted.

I am interested to know how they plan on keeping the EV motor from overheating...I hear this is a problem with EV racing. Anyone heard anything?
Also disappointed to learn that they won't be swapping batteries but are actually swapping whole cars, with driver jumping into a new car during pitstops. You would think a quick battery swap would be easy and more practical (less cars to build, etc).

I don't think that sponsoring a racing team is a good use of Elon's or Tesla's cash right now... maybe someday, but only after Tesla has been generating big and growing profits for a long time, maybe. So many better uses for that cash before that point. Also what you describe sounds like a joke. Swapping cars would build the perception that EVs are not practical and even useless. Like Tesla is doing with cars, I think an EV race should be better than an ICE race, at all levels... in fact an EV should someday enter F1 to win it, when the technology allows it and enough sponsors can be found. More interesting to me would be a race that has a human component as well. Cycling is boring to me because the rules prohibit custom bikes to a large extent in order to keep the competition at an athletic level. Auto racing is a lot of horsepower with questionable athletic value and much of the game is about cheating death. I think an ideal race format would be a combination of the two, a bit like the Varna Diablo with three wheels for stability and also electrified so it can be super fast and fun. A limit on battery weight could keep the athletic component relevant while also pushing for technological innovation. Instead of weight, it could be another metric if one is found, such as cost limit.

Biggest priority now is getting Model S out on the street, in Europe and elsewhere. Then Model X out, take care of your reservation holders... When Model R (the new roadster) comes out then racing can be a great publicity thing (2015?)... especially a Super R (Veyron killer)

Racing is a fun aspect of the automotive world and has it's business function as a promotional event, but demand is not a problem for Tesla for now. Tesla can turn the racing world on its head with a Super R, after tens of thousands of Teslas are out on the road around the world and it has shown multiple profitable quarters. Tesla racing could be the nail in the coffin for ICE dominance, but has to be done right, when Tesla is ready.

By 2020 serious 'car guys' will not even look at an ICE...

I think people are forgetting of the research and development opportunities that motor racing brings to the table. Plus motor racing is a very profitable business; you do know that Mclaren is worth well over a billion dollars? You not only get more publicity but you also get to innovate and try new technologies while competing with the best of the best in the automotive world.

Also, Renault, who produces the all electric Zoe and taunts itself as a car company in the forefront of EV technology recently announced its interest to Join Formula E:

Renault states its own involvement is probable, particularly given its expertise in the global electronic vehicle market.

Carlos Tavares, COO of the Renault group told Autosport Magazine:

“Formula E is something that we are looking at very closely…it’s very probable to say that, if it happens, we will be involved in one way or another. Renault is the EV sales leader in Europe and the Renault-Nissan alliance is the sales leader in the world. Formula E is completely consistent with our mastery of the technology, and we’re eager to use that platform to show to the people what we can do.”

“There is a big difference between conventional racing and zero emission racing. A zero emission racing series is about promoting new technologies. If you are promoting this, you must realize that the best technology must win. Renault as the EV leader in zero emissions would want to compete in a championship to demonstrate [its] technology is the best”.

“I would not like to be under the threat of Balance of Performance criteria, so I think we should be consistent with that. After all the role of motorsport, in its purist form, is to promote the efficiency of new technology.”

These are some automotive technologies which came from racing, just to name a few:

1)Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (Courtesy of F1)
2)Carbon Fiber (Back in 1981, the McLaren MP4/1 Formula One car pioneered the use of a carbon-fiber chassis).
3)Traction control (From Formula 1, back in the 80's).
4)Flapp paddle gearboxes(The F1 Ferrari 640 of 1989 was the first car to use flapp paddles).
5) Active suspension (It was perfected and used by Williams in the early 90's)
6)Not to mention all the aerodynamic advances and tire compound breakthroughs that come from racing.
7)First functional AWD systems during the late
8)AWD (Spyker is credited with building and racing the first ever four-wheel racing car, the Spyker 60 HP, Miller produced the first 4WD car to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, the 1938 Miller Gulf Special and let's not forget Audi's quattro technology developed for rallying)
9)Dunlop’s development of caliper-type disc brakes for the Jaguar C-Type racer in 1953.
10)Rear-view mirror (the first rear-view mirror debuted at the Indianapolis 500 race in 1911).

Plus plenty more breakthroughs that come from racing and could make this a very long list.

I agree with your list for most except that AWD. First AWD cars were definitely for all terrain vehicles, not for racing.

Maybe, though the 60HP Spiker was developed for racing at the begining of the century. Which all terrain vehicles were developed before that? I would also like to add that high speed real time AWD was developed for rallying purposes in the second half of the 20th century. This took AWD to a level where it could be transferred to vehicles intended for day to day driving ie Audi.

Beginning of 1900 I assume. I do believe we had AWD before 2000 ;-)


Looks like first AWD (passenger) car happened to be electric made by Porsche. Before that there were other AWD cars but they probably were not passenger cars. Trucks and tractors mainly I believe.

I think you guys are having different conversations. The confusion here is that there is a difference between All When Drive (recent innovation) and four wheel drive (almost as old as the car itself). If that isn't the confusion, please forgive me... I couldn't make sense of your conversation without interpreting it that way.

We were discussing about origins of the tech. AWD/4WD is not clear concept, for example which one you would count electric hub-motor car? Each wheel has it's own motor. There are huge variety how power is transmitted to wheels, important point is that all of the wheels drive the car in normal conditions. Origin of that is not in racing, but it definitely has improved a lot in it. I bet that without racing basically only offroad cars would have it (OTOH for racing it is so obvious improvement that this is quite moot point).


I just checked the Specs there for these cars and compared them to that of the Model S:

Top Speed:
220 km/h vs. 210 km/h

0-100 km/h:
3s vs. 4 s

180kw v. 310kw (so actually more for the Model S!)

In addition any Tesla handily beats these "racing cars" on range given that they last about 25 minutes.

So a 2t Tesla is almost as fast than a 0.78t "Formula E" car. A regular street car has more power than the racing car? Are you kidding me?

I really do believe Tesla should get involved here - besides the huge effect on image this could have, they could actually make money if they sold them some decent racing cars - or at least the important parts thereof. Do they regularly check the forums? Or is there another way one could bring this to their attention if they haven't noticed already?

Tesla does watch these forums. It's somewhat rare to get them comment anything here, but every now and then you notice something done based on what was written here.

F1 cars are light and 0-100km/h isn't that impressive, what is impressive is cornering and the 100-200km/h which is actually a bit faster than 0-100 due increased downforce. These FE race cars follow same logic, light and a lot of downforce.

Model S would not beat these racing cars because it wont be able to corner as tightly. I have seen 5 g measured in high speed corners in F1 cars. Good acceleration does not matter much if you need to drive corner 150km/h slower than proper race car. Also I believe that this 220km/h is regulated limit, not what these cars could actually do without limits. 3s vs 4s is 25% increase in acceleration. That's huge difference.

Power to weight ratio is in favor of FE:

180kW/780kg vs 310kW/2100kg
~231W/kg vs ~148W/kg.

I don't think Tesla could use their drivetrain/battery setup which makes making race car a bit useless exercise. However I can't see anything else than Model S as pace car in that race track. There just isn't much else in there that could fit that role.

I know that racing is not just about figures like 0-100. I also didn't want to suggest that they should enter a Model S into these races - allthough I now realize I might not have been clear about that in my previous post.

My suggestion was that they should either build a FE car themselves or sell them some parts for the cars. These would of course also have to be modified. Given that I am not an engineer I don't know how much work would have to be put into this, but Tesla seems to have a very clear technological advantage here.

If they were to put that technology into a racing car, I believe they could get actually get a better power to weight ratio.

However I have also found some different numbers on the power of these FE cars after doing further research, some of them being higher, but I assume that the ones above are accurate because they are from the official site.

I know that racing is not just about figures like 0-100. I also didn't want to suggest that they should enter a Model S into these races - allthough I now realize I might not have been clear about that in my previous post.

My suggestion was that they should either build a FE car themselves or sell them some parts for the cars. These would of course also have to be modified. Given that I am not an engineer I don't know how much work would have to be put into this, but Tesla seems to have a very clear technological advantage here.

If they were to put that technology into a racing car, I believe they could get actually get a better power to weight ratio.

However I have also found some different numbers on the power of these FE cars after doing further research, some of them being higher, but I assume that the ones above are accurate because they are from the official site.

I agree with PKolf. If this series gets other constructors involved like BMW, Renault, Nissan, GM or Even Ford, all of whom have their own EV programs, it would get very competitive. When that happens the envelope will get pushed and technological breakthroughs will be made. Just as it happened in F1 before it got over regulated and Bernie decided to kill innovation to make the series more "interesting" with engineered overtaking.

A report that the Financial Times did on Formula E.


Thing with Tesla is that they do not use cutting edge techs. There's nothing special in parts they use, only how they use them. Tesla would not benefit much from FE series, it is not yet big enough to afford putting resources into it. Maybe in future, but not near future.

I would like to see Model S as pace car though. There isn't much else out there that could fill that role. Not yet anyway.

I agree, but Formula E can be used to try proven technology too. For example they could use it to test out different battery chemistries under different stress conditions. When deciding for a new technology, even a proven one, there are usually many choices involved in the decission, and these involve testing. Same goes for engines, software, re gen systems, etc. Formula E can be used as a lab test bench for different ideas and technologies (new or in the pipeline), while still getting a bang for your buck in terms of publicity and global exposure. As I see it, Formula E its R&D with a return.

Most people here are looking at Formula E as an expense. This is wrong, if managed properly TM could actually even make money out of this. Just ask Ferrari (today, at least on terms of market cap, TM is bigger!), their F1 program has been one of the keystones to its success. Just my two cents...

I just learned that although all teams are required to use the Dallara-developed chassis for the first year (which I think is a great field leveling idea), the second season will allow other chassis.

I hope they change this so that all competitors have to use the same chassis; aerodynamics takes up a really big chunk out of every formula team and you really can't transfer breakthroughs on the aerodynamics of an open wheel racing car chassis to a street legal road car.

Tesla should only join if this is done, otherwise the series stops being about innovating electric vehicle platforms and technologies and starts being more focused on aerodynamics.

There should be no limit in the regulations regarding the drive train, including the engine, battery density and chemistry, software, etc. But the chassis should stay the same for all teams. Otherwise this series will turn into a series like Formula One, where the team with the best aerodynamicist wins, like the almost a decade when Ferrari dominated with Rory Byrne as chief designer or Mclaren and now Redbull with Adrian Newey.

Williams Advanced Engineering to supply Formula E battery units!


Thankfully, frmercado, one of Tesla's current suppliers is capable of matching any of the current and prospective Formula E entrants in terms of chassis design.

When Multimatic and Carl Haas purchased Lola Cars last year, Multimatic retained Lola's critical design staff and data, and have brought their own blend of racing and production design expertise to the table. This includes experienced and noteworthy aerodynamicists.

Keen observers of EV motorsport will know that Multimatic did a bunch of aero and suspension development work (including supply of their DSERD energy recovering dampers) for the Lola sports prototype with which (Formula E entrants) Drayson Racing have smashed the FIA light electric speed record.

A competitive Formula E entry would net greater international sales and provide valuable engineering lessons for Tesla, and would answer all those asking why the firm hasn't yet stepped into the ring.

Indeed, the costs of aero development can be crippling if you don't have experienced people running the show. Tesla does, however, have the right people on 'speed dial' via Multimatic and Lola. I have no doubts that if Mr. Musk were to make that call, a Tesla-powered and even Tesla-branded chassis could run consistently at the sharp end of the Formula E grid.

Interesting information... I wholeheartedly agree with you and would also love to see a Tesla powered or branded car competing in Formula E.

However, I don't know how likely it is that such a thing will happen now; specially with the recent fall in the price of Tesla's stock price. I'm sure Tesla management is pretty busy right now putting fires out (literally) to turn its focus on entering formula E.

Notwithstanding, I think it would be a good idea to join Formula E right NOW; it might sound counter intuitive but I think this move would help to turn attention from the overhyped fires and stock price fall while also helping promote Tesla's image in Europe, specially Germany, which will be a hard nut to crack. Germans do love their motorsports and that would probably help a lot with the German market. It is no coincidence that Audi is now backing a formula E team. The fact that a race will be held in Berlin will not hurt either.

We'll see though. Let’s hope that Tesla Motors takes a more proactive role in motorsports and related R&D and how they market their image in Europe.

OTOH, it may be a money pit. I doubt TM will participate before the new Roadster is revealed in 2-3 years.

Also in order to help the brand they need to be one at the top teams, it would not help at all to finish last in race.

Problem with Formula Whatever is that those cars don't really have much common with ordinary cars, so Tesla experience with road cars might not translate to excellence in Formula anything.

The technical split between road and race cars is certainly a valid issue with conventional motorsport since it reached a sort of technical maturity in the late 1980's. In the case of many technologies, transfer had begun to flow from road cars to race cars, contrary to the 'classic' motorsport technology transfer model.

Formula 1's first KERS season in 2008 reversed this to some extent, and showed potential for motorsport to resume its technical pioneering role given the renewed conditions of having a technical frontier. With lots to learn, the accelerated, small-scale development conditions of motorsport can show their benefit.

As for cost, well, there are multiple ways to get a given program together. Suffice to say that I agree on the PR front: it's altogether innocuous (in PR terms) to talk about a car of any brand having caught on fire when it's crashed in a high-profile race...

I think WRC still has advantage over road cars. There the tech flow is classic one. I think Tesla could make one awesome rally car with 4WD two-motor techs. Too bad there isn't really much competition to compare against in that area.

In my mind WRC would make more sense than Formula E for pure-BEV series in many ways: not that high top speeds, shorter routes, less aerodynamic stuff and more traction control systems, insane low speed accelerations etc. Pure BEV can compete and probably even beat gas cars in that.

Timo, I'm a big fan of the WRC, but I think that the focus of Formula E is to get as many people as possible to follow the series and racing in urban areas helps a lot to accomplish this. Because of the very nature of WRC, maybe with the exception of Monaco, the races often take place in remote places and the world media coverage is marginal, at best.

I think that your point on aerodynamics is valid and I agree that, in any formula series, this is a big factor on being competitive; it also takes up a lot of investment and doesn't transfer into road cars. I think that if this is managed appropriately by freezing aerodynamics and by making a standard chassis or two which would be made available to all participants, like a Lola or Dalara, or even a chassis from an F1 constructor or two, the huge expense and needless R&D into this area could be avoided. This would free most of the budget of the teams to invest on R&D in technology that would really transfer into road cars, like drive trains, software, new battery chemistries, new charging tech, tires, etc.

It also seems that Formula E is going out of its way, both to accommodate new players into the series as well as making it a suitable platform for the transfer of technology to road cars. An example of the latter is the tires (developed by Michelin) which will be very similar to road car tires, unlike the tires of any other racing series in the world; 18 inch all season tires which will have to be run throughout the duration of the race.

Also from the comments of the people involved you can tell they want to make this series a test bed to advance electric vehicle technology and to improve awareness of the viability of EV as a substitute for ICE. These guys want Electric Vehicles to succeed. A report, released by leading professional services firm EY, has analyzed the global VALUE of the FIA FORMULA E CHAMPIONSHIP, revealing that the new zero emission race series will help CONTRIBUTE to the additional sale of 77 MILLION Electric Vehicles (EV) worldwide over the next 25 years.

People here should go into the official Formula E website and check out all the videos with the various interviews, especially those with the people from McLaren, Williams, Michelin and Renault, which are the technical companies behind this series so far.

Interesting interview of the CEO of Formula E. The most interesting thing about it is that at around the two minute 50 second mark of the video he mentions that they are in talks with Tesla.

Looks like Tesla is interested in this series... :)

Insightful interview of the CEO of Formula E by Bloomberg. The most interesting thing about it is that at around the two minute 50 second mark of the video he mentions that they are in talks with Tesla.


Interesting, but also a bit worrisome, it talks about making "fans interact with the race" by some sort of game. That is invite to hackers to mess with race. Maybe sub-game "who manages to make car spin out of control in fast corner" by boosting HP of the car in critical moment, and things like that. Huge potential to ruin the series.

OTOH introduce robot drivers and make it a proper "death race" and I would definitely play the game >:) .