What's Formula E like in person? One Jalopnik reader went to Donnington for testing and found out.
Having just got back from the second Formula E test at Donnington Park, I thought I would write up my thoughts.
The cars look very cool in person. The teams seem to have really made the most of the styling of the bodywork, to really make the liveries look awesome. Personal favourites are the Virgin team, and Andretti Autosport. Even in bare Carbon Fibre they look very sleek and sexy.
I think here is an area that Formula E have been really clever. The cars acceleration was impressive, equal to most open wheel cars, short of F1. Id be confident in saying they are faster than F3. They seemed to hit top speed early along the straights, and down the Craner Curves, but accelerating out of the slower corners they were impressive, and more than powerful enough to get sideways. In tight city streets I for one think these will look awesome.
I know this is an area that people are very skeptical of, and ill admit before the test I wasn't exactly filled with hope. However, one trackside I was pleasantly surprised. Obviously they arent the big banging V12s or V8s, or even little 1.6 turbo V6s but they do make noise. They are far from silent. The video clip below was taken using my DSLR with no mic, so its not the best, but it should give an idea. Its just getting past the fact that they dont sound like a conventional car, and they are quiet. Once your over those hurdles they do sound pretty cool (I think).
A Point Of Note:
Something I have made note of, and had a complaint about is the Fan Boost. The commentator was running a Q&A today, so I asked for more info and got a much better response than i was expecting.
Every car has a set number of push to pass power boosts, much like Indycar. The fans can vote on the Formula E website for their favorite drivers, and the most popular 3 get 1 extra boost. So its not going to take you from last to first, but it might just help to get you past the car in front if you use it right. Still not brilliant, but actually not too bad.
Before going to todays test, I wasnt entirely convinced by the series. I thought it was too much of a flash in the pan style series, not likely to last. Having heard from the teams and the boss they are aware of the limitations of the current cars. They know that using 2 cars per race is ludicrous, and they are pushing battery technology forwards to get past this, but at the moment thats what they have.
Also, the series is so keen to engage fans, and wants to engage fans (free admission to the tests, free admission to races i believe), that it can only be good.
67 days to go till Beijing. I for one will be counting the days.
tl;dr. saw some electric race cars. they are cool. im excited.