Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Driveway - Bill Buys

FOR­MULA E is all but un­heard of in Aus­tralia, but the new top-level rac­ing class is look­ing to the fu­ture by em­brac­ing the swing to elec­tric cars – and it is at­tract­ing a lot of top-echolon teams and driv­ers.

It’s a new FIA sin­gle-seater cham­pi­onship and the world’s first fully-elec­tric rac­ing se­ries.

It started in Septem­ber and the first sea­son runs to June 2015, with rounds in some of the world’s lead­ing ci­ties, in­clud­ing London, Beijing and Mi­ami.

There are 10 teams in the in­au­gu­ral sea­son, each with two driv­ers, among them for­mer FI pi­lots like Se­bastien Buemi, Charles Pic, Lu­cas di Grassi, Jaime Alguer­suari and Karun Chand- hok, and Toro Rosso star Jean-Eric Vergne, a for­mer team­mate of Daniel Ric­cia­rdo, has just joined the An­dretti For­mula E team.

For the first sea­son, all teams have cars built by Spark Rac­ing Tech­nol­ogy, called the Spark-Re­nault SRT 01E.

The chas­sis is by Dal­lara, with an elec­tric mo­tor de­vel­oped by McLaren, a bat­tery sys­tem cre­ated by Wil­liams F1 and a Hew­land five-speed gear­box. Miche­lin is the of­fi­cial tyre sup­plier.

Two rounds have al­ready been held, the first in Beijing, won by Di Grassi, of the Audi team, from Franck Mon­tagny (An­dretti), Bri­ton Sam Bird driv­ing for Vir­gin Rac­ing, and Charles Pic in the other An­dretti.

And a fort­night ago the sec­ond round, at Malaysia's Pu­tra­jaya cir­cuit, went to Bird, fol­lowed by Di Grassi, Buemi and Ni­co­las Prost, son of the French FI star of yes­ter­year.

Noise is vi­tal to rac­ing and the For­mula E cars pro­duce fu­tur­is­tic sound, almost a whis­tle, which, with the tyres on the track, the aero­dy­nam­ics and the elec­tric driv­e­train cre­ate a space-age sound.

They're very fast too: zero to 100km/h in 3.0sec­onds and a top speed of about 240km/h.

The third round was in Uruguay a few days ago and the rounds for 2015 are in Buenos Aires on Jan­uary 10, Mi­ami in March, Long Beach in April, Monte Carlo and Berlin, both in May, and London in June.

■ Perth lens­man Manuel Go­ria went to Pu­tra­jaya and came back with th­ese su­perb shots of the rac­ers of to­mor­row.

Pic­tures: Manolo Pho­tog­ra­phy

Sam Bird in ac­tion in the Vir­gin racer.

A gag­gle of For­mula Es tear into a cor­ner at Pu­tra­jaya.

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