Brazilian ace di Grassi admits that his new electric-powered single-seater racing car does not have the sheer pace of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro he raced in the World Endurance Championship, but he insists that Formula E can be just as exciting as endurance racing. ‘OK, it might be slower in terms of pure speed,’ he acknowledges, ‘but when you’ve got the barrier up against you, it certainly feels fast, and when you’re on the limit at 100mph or 200mph, it’s still the limit.’
Watching Formula E in action is indeed exciting, even if the traditional roar of combustion engines is missing. Instead, the cars produce a distinctive sound on acceleration – an electronic whine that’s part sci-fi hyperdrive, part speeded-up Tube train. Racing at Monaco was close, and featured some impressively committed overtaking. Di Grassi earned a FanBoost and, although it wasn’t enough to pass leader Sébastien Buemi in a tense last-corner tussle, he finished second and kept the same position in the championship.
With seven races left, including rounds in Paris, Berlin, New York and Montreal, the season was far from over after Monaco. Three months later, at the final event in Canada, di Grassi clinched the drivers title and Team ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport secured second place in the team classification. ‘Today is the best day in my career,’ the new Formula E Champion enthused after the race. ‘I’ve believed in Formula E from day one because the world, including motorsport, is changing. Three years ago, we won the first Formula E race in Beijing and now finally the title as well. ABT Sportsline, Schaeffler and Audi Sport have done a perfect job.’
The buzz around electric racing is set to grow, with the new season getting underway in Hong Kong with two races over 2-3 December.
Written by Mike Duff. Photographs by Greg Funnell
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