‘ It’s About an Interesting New Championship’
SENNA: I spoke to Fred Makowiecki, who was my teammate last year. He’s been doing the tyre development for Formula E. He said it was surprising how much torque it has out of the corners, it’s really quite easy to spin the wheels. Of course, he’s been driving on a race track and race tracks have a better grip than a street circuit. And he said that it feels a bit like a Formula 3 car: it’s not the most powerful car in the world, but it slides around a bit. CHANDHOK: I spoke with Lucas di Grassi of course, (and) I spoke with Jarno (Trulli). I think they’re all pleasantly surprised—that seems to be the general response. The car is balanced, it’s got more grip than you think and driveability is pretty good. But driving a test car and driving a car in a competition is different. A test car is just driving around for reliability. They’re not chasing performance or lap time. Do you think the series could serve to develop young drivers? SENNA: I think any racing will develop your skills in a different way. If you come into Formula E as a young driver to learn strategy, your mind will work in a very different way and as long as you keep fit for the big cars, it should be a good platform. I see Formula E as a bit of an open-ended thing, wherein it’s not necessarily a stepping stone to Formula One, but it’s not a deadend either. CHANDHOK: I don’t think this is really a development series. I think it’s about a different way of racing. This is not on the ladder to Formula One. You’ve got ten races in the first season. Alejandro said he wants to add more. Do you think the calendar will be too crowded for those who race in the summer as well? SENNA: As long as it doesn’t clash, it’s okay. If you have a few weeks every once in a while that you don’t have to race every single weekend, it’s okay. If you did Formula E and WEC, it will be only 20 race weekends— the same as F1. So it’s not so bad. If you’re doing 25 races a year, then it becomes exhausting. If Formula E becomes big, if it becomes a 15-race series, then you’re going to have to dial down on the other series. CHANDHOK: Honestly, it’s quite tough for a new series to do ten street events. For me, it works okay. If it’s up to me I’ll race every weekend. Nothing is too much. So, if it’s going to be twenty races, it’s twenty races. The problem is clashing dates. As people get used to the fact that electric cars can race, do you think it will become just another racing series? SENNA: I think what is really going to keep Formula E on the map is that it will develop technology straight from the race to road cars. We see more and more automakers making electric or hybrid cars. Everybody is going towards that, everybody is trying to stay away from combustion engines and petrol. And I think this is where Formula E will really have its triumph. We have already seen Audi taking a small interest in Formula E and I think we’re going to see more manufacturers going in every year to try and take advantage of it. CHANDHOK: Two things to keep in mind (in case of Formula E)—one is that it is a world championship. So, we’re anyways going to new markets, interesting markets, where it’s going to be new for the people. Point B is that you can’t underestimate the fact that we’re doing it on the streets, in the cities. You can have a race in the middle of London and you’ll get a crowd. I think that’s the trump card of the series, the fact that they can run on city streets.