As Formula 1 continues to take the lion’s share of buzz around motorsports, the electric alternatives are plugging away with a real-world relevance
After a hectic British GP in Formula 1 last weekend, Sebastian Vettel now has eight points on Lewis Hamilton in the championship.
Despite dragging himself back into the top two after an early collision put him at the wrong end of the pack, Hamilton couldn’t take the win that would’ve put him top of the tree.
And with 11 of the 21 races still to come, the tussle for the trophy is as alive as ever. With the F1 campaign only just reaching its halfway point, however, Formula E is prepping for its season end this weekend in New York City.
However, that doesn’t mean the excitement is lost. Formula E might be ending for the year, but electric motorsport is only just kicking off.
It’s not all about four wheels
Earlier this year the Moto-e World Cup was announced, an all-electric motorcycle race series that’ll fall under MotoGP – the top band of bike racing.
Former GP rider Loris Capirossi, who rode in the top division for a whole decade, was involved in the flashy launch event back in February, and last month the bike that will be ridden in Moto-e was demoed at the Mugello circuit during the Italian leg of MotoGP.
Two-time SBK winner Max Biaggi was the man at the handlebars of the Energica Ego Corsa – the electric bike that’ll be used when the championship kicks off next year.
The names involved so far show just how seriously the new division is being taken. Spectators will see e-motorsports share the track with the Moto2, Moto3 and full GP classes, rather than sitting ignored in its own setup.
And it’s not just two-wheeled racing that’s developing zero emissions alternatives. Another example is Formula E, that just like Moto-e is taking itself very seriously.
Electric motorsport is going beyond life-sized Scalextric
A number of former F1 drivers are on the roster, including Felipe Massa who’s joining the Venturi Formula E team next season – founded by Venturi Automobiles owner Gildo Pallanca Pastor and Leonardo DiCaprio, who probably needs no introduction.
Only in its fourth season, the series is still fairly fresh, but it’s helping to boost the efforts of electric motors beyond the paddock.
The current batteries can’t quite hack the full 50 or so minute races on a single charge, and drivers are required to swap cars halfway through. From next season, however, only one battery will be used.
These tech developments are also coming at a time when waves are being made on a consumer level, too. Later this year the Jaguar I-Pace will square up with Tesla, as the first real contender to challenge the American manufacturer.
There are no questions over the I-Pace’s styling
Exterior-wise, there’s very little between the three I-pace models other than alloy choice. The air intakes and bonnet scoop come as standard, giving a sporty vibe but one that’s not bold enough to put off simpler tastes.
It’s also got the fold-in door handles that first appeared on the new Range Rover Velar. As nice as the I-Pace looks, though, it’s not the body kit or handles that are making the headlines.
Its performance, and the numbers behind it is where the Jag is winning votes. The 4.5 seconds it takes to get from 0-60mph is impressive, especially for an SUV, but it’s the how long rather than how quick that’s making Tesla sweat.
The I-pace’s range has been quoted as 298 miles, a value that’s even more impressive under the new WLTP test. The tougher test gives a more realistic number, which’ll more closely match the digits that pop up on the display behind your steering wheel.
From chicane to cul-de-sac
Due to debut in the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy later this year – that’ll drop into Formula E as a supporting series – you can argue the latest electric SUV is highlighting the growing link between motorsport and production models.
And perhaps the key to that is relevance. Unlike F1, the vehicles filling the grid in Formula E and Moto-e are showcasing tech that could one day take its place on your driveway.
In the case of Moto-e and the I-Pace race series, that use tuned and tweaked versions of the road-legal models, they even look like the motors you might one day buy.
And you’re reading this long before those championships are even up and running. At the very least, it’ll be an interesting year for electric.
We’re currently taking part in the Lookers Electric Charge, a 2,000-mile trip through all of our dealerships using only electric and hybrid vehicles, to raise money for automotive charity Ben.