The race cars of Team Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler are on their way to Hong Kong where the opening race of the new 2018 Formula E season will take place on December 2 and 3. The 1.860-kilometer race track is on the waterfront and past the Ferris wheel. The other temporary circuit uses public streets and has a long straight that is good for passing. It is followed by a technically challenging section with tight turns. The track surface poses an additional challenge, as it changes from tarmac to concrete. On Saturday, 43 and on Sunday, 45 laps will be driven.
The racing series – if it can be called racing – where teams must switch cars because recharging the batteries takes too long and they can’t go the racing distance – is nonetheless highly competitive.
Who are the favorites for 2018?
“That’s hard to answer in Formula E – especially before this season, said defending champion and Audi driver Lucas di Grassi. “I have very strong expectations of Renault and Mahindra. At the same time, we should have Virgin, Andretti and Jaguar on our radar as well. There are at least five or six teams in contention for winning races. In addition, in André Lotterer, Edoardo Mortara and Kamui Kobayashi there’ll be some strong new drivers, so it’s near-impossible to make any predictions. The only thing we can be sure of is that this will be the hardest fought season in Formula E history to date.”
Last Year is Over
The straight talking di Grassi notes that you don’t get points for winning last year in the new season. São Paulo, Brazil joins the Formula E calendar in 2018. It is di Grassi’s home town.
“The race in São Paulo makes a dream come true for me,” said di Grassi. “The city is my home and my whole family, and my friends are going to be at the race. Still, there are other cities I very much look forward to – such as Rome and Zurich.
With new race locations and new manufacturers, Formula E claims to be experiencing a real boom. It also claims to be the second-most relevant racing series after Formula 1. This boast is a mystery to AutoInformed. Yes, there’s lots of marketing money. Note that BMW works driver António Félix da Costa (POR) and Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) will compete at the season-opener for MS&AD Andretti Formula E. Over the course of the season, BMW and the team will continue preparations for an official works entry in the 2018/19 season.
As the “Official Vehicle Partner” of Formula E, ( is that marketing or racing?) BMW i is once again providing a fleet of vehicles. This includes the Qualcomm BMW i8 Safety Car (combined fuel consumption: 2.1 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 49 g/km) and the new BMW i3s (combined energy consumption: 14.3 kWh; combined CO2 emissions: 0 g/km) as the “Medical Car” and “Race Control Car.”
“We’re looking forward to the new Formula E season opener with huge anticipation,’ said di Grassi. “We worked hard in the last few months to put another car on the grid that’ll be in contention for victory. The transition from an Audi-supported team to a full factory-backed commitment “went smoothly. Now we’re wishing for a good weekend in Hong Kong – preferably with as much success as the one we ended last season with,” said di Grassi.
The Audi powertrain, the development of which is free from restrictions in Formula E – now that’s racing – is completely new. In addition, Audi changed the transmission from three speeds to just one speed. While there has been some testing, demands of the track while racing are formidable. Moreover, the mega marketing money floating around the pits is attraction hired gunslingers – top drivers from other forms of competitive racing.
“With Audi’s entry, we now have even better opportunities, especially in terms of working in the simulator,” said di Grassi. “This is good and necessary. I’m convinced that, as a result, the level in the entire field will be raised once again.”
He would be the first to admit that simulators ain’t fast, wheel-to-wheel dicing that results when the green flag drops.