What is Formula E and How Does it Compare to F1?

3 min read

Formula E, which debuted in 2014, is the latest craze in the world of racing competitions, having started its 8th season in late January 2022. Even though the sport is still in its infancy compared to F1, its popularity has increased significantly, with extensive live television coverage provided by major broadcasters worldwide. But have you heard of it? 

by

Emily MacKinnon

, Executive Assistant in
This or That
Image by Formula E

Although Formula 1 (F1) and Formula E (FE) may look quite similar to the casual onlooker, the two categories are significantly different, and you may not have ever heard of the latter.

Formula 1 celebrated its 70th-anniversary in 2020, with the inaugural world championship race conducted on May 13th, 1950, at Silverstone. It has traditionally been the focal point of the racing community, with many ambitious racers hoping to participate in the series.

Formula 1 is about much more than high-speed racing, team rivalry, and champagne podium celebrations. In reality, throughout history, the sport has been at the forefront of innovation, resulting in improvements that have directly benefitted the larger automotive sector. F1's composite materials, safety advances, energy recovery systems, and aerodynamic innovations have been implemented by a huge number of vehicles on the road today.

The series' creators were intent on electrifying the vehicle industry by creating hybrid and electric technologies that would cut carbon dioxide emissions. Whereas Formula 1 vehicles utilize hybrid engines fuelled by high octane carbon fuels, FE cars employ a completely electric drivetrain to zip around the course, depending only on an incredible 250kW battery.

Basics

This is a departure from the conventional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)-powered F1 cars, as FE takes single-seater racing in a new direction. In addition, unlike in Formula One, the teams all use the same chassis and aerodynamics, such as in feeder championships like GP2.

However, for the second season in 2015/2016, manufacturers were allowed to develop and provide their own powertrains - including the e-motor, inverter, gearbox, and cooling system - on the Dallara-built Spark-Renault SRT 01E chassis. In the second season, there were seven manufacturers, and two of the teams were still using the first season's standard.

Speed

Formula 1 takes the lead in terms of speed - however, their electric counterparts are making significant progress as a result of continuous technological advancement. Formula E's newest all-electric racing vehicles can reach up to 280km/h, compared to F1's top speed of 397km/h. FE vehicles, by comparison, can accelerate from 0 to 100 kilometres per hour in 2.8 seconds. Formula 1 edges them out by a fraction of a second, hitting the same speeds in an astonishing 2.6 seconds.

Powertrain comparison

While existing Formula 1 vehicle have a V6 turbo-hybrid powertrain (which combines an internal combustion engine with two electric motors), FE cars utilize a totally electric powertrain that is powered by a 250kW battery.

Formula E Performance

McLaren provides the electric motor with a maximum output of 200kw or around 270bhp. It is acceptable to have up to two motor generator units, which must be connected to the rear axle. The batteries used to power these cars are produced by Williams Advanced Engineering. There's a 170kw power limit in race mode, but it's unrestricted during practice and qualification rounds.

Vehicles are equipped with paddle-shift sequential transmissions. With Hewland's five-speed units for the SRT 01E in season one, the gear ratios remained the same. A single standard pedal controls two separate hydraulic systems that make up the braking system. Alloy callipers made of aluminum are standard, but you may use whatever material you like.

Tires

Michelin supplies the 18-inch treaded tires, in contrast to F1's 13-inch slick compounds. FE tires are designed to perform in both wet and dry conditions and are intended to survive a whole race weekend.

Competition

This year's 2021/2022 season is comprised of 11 teams, 22 cars and 22 drivers however, there will only be one winner. They will compete through 16 races across the world in cities like Rome, Berlin, Vancouver, and New York. The activity in a Formula 1 race is stretched across a three-day event, but the action in FE is compacted into a single day.

Overlapping

Formula 1 uses DRS, whereas Formula E uses FanBoost. This provides drivers with a temporary boost of 30kw of electricity during the race. It is presented to three drivers after a fan vote. While some consider it a gimmick, it does bring spectators closer to the action, and FanBoost has assisted in increasing overtaking and rearranging the order.

Dimensions

The vehicles measure 5000mm long, 1800mm wide, and 1250mm high — proportions that are quite comparable to those of F1 cars.

Impact of Racing on the Expanding EV market

Formula E's initial aim was to demonstrate what sustainable mobility was capable of, bringing electric cars to the fore in the struggle for a better, cleaner future by racing through the streets of the world's most renowned cities with a grid full of the finest racing drivers and teams.

Since Formula E's debut season, the number of electric vehicle models on the road has surged sixfold, with more than 175 currently available in Europe.

As technology progresses, electric vehicles will be able to go faster and farther. Electric automobiles are fast nearing the point where they are less costly, safer, and easier to operate than combustion-powered vehicles, and Formula E is hastening that trend.

What is Formula E and How Does it Compare to F1?

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