For­mula E gen­er­ates fresh spark in rac­ing

Green tech­nol­ogy’s an­swer to For­mula 1 is pre­par­ing for the green light in Beijing de­spite many say­ing it would never get off the start line, and although it may not have the glitz and glam­our of its il­lus­tri­ous coun­ter­part, it’s suc­ceeded in at­tract­ing i

Outlook - - CONTENTS - By Alan Bald­win

Green tech­nol­ogy's an­swer to For­mula 1 is pre­par­ing for the green light in Beijing de­spite many say­ing it would never get off the start line.

Ale­jan­dro Agag, the man lead­ing the world's first all-elec­tric car rac­ing se­ries, laugh­ingly de­scribes him­self as an 'old petrol­head' who likes a bit of noise.

The joke stops there, how­ever. The 43-year-old chief ex­ec­u­tive has si­lenced the doubters who only two years ago were ques­tion­ing whether he could turn his 'For­mula E' plans into re­al­ity and next week he hopes to show he is on to a win­ner.

The first race, or 'ePrix', will be held in Beijing on Septem­ber 13, sanc­tioned by the In­ter­na­tional Au­to­mo­bile Fed­er­a­tion and broad­cast around the world, and Agag is smil­ing at how per­cep­tions have changed. "Many peo­ple thought this (se­ries) was not go­ing to hap­pen be­cause it was a re­ally dif­fi­cult project to put to­gether. There were no cars, no ci­ties, no spon­sors, no tele­vi­sion," the Spa­niard told Reuters in an in­ter­view. "Now peo­ple have seen the test­ing, they've seen the cars, they can walk in the Olympic Park in Beijing and see all the fences and walls so the race is hap­pen­ing. So that re­ally changes the minds of peo­ple." If For­mula One re­mains in a league of its own, with the glam­our of Fer­rari cou­pled with the allure of tracks like Monaco and Monza, Agag has a dif­fer­ent au­di­ence in mind - one that is younger and more in­ter­ested in so­cial me­dia than mo­tor­sport.

"We have one thing in which we are the best. We are the clean­est," said the chief ex­ec­u­tive.

"And for the world to­day, that's prob­a­bly the most im­por­tant thing.

"The world is chang­ing and the world is not any more so con­cerned about the fastest or the nois­i­est. But it is con­cerned about who is do­ing things that are bet­ter for the en­vi­ron­ment. And in that For­mula E is un­beat­able."

Big fans

Agag is used to com­par­isons be­ing made with For­mula One, even if For­mula E will race in city cen­tres, over shorter dis­tances and with very dif­fer­ent cars.

The Spa­niard is in any case per­fectly placed to deal with them, hav­ing been in­volved in both.

As well as a long­stand­ing in­volve­ment in For­mula One feeder se­ries GP2, he was a business part­ner at London soc­cer club Queens Park Rangers with F1 supremo Bernie Ec­cle­stone and for­mer Re­nault team boss Flavio Bri­a­tore.

"We are big fans of For­mula One and who­ever tries to com­pete with For­mula One will fail," said Agag.

"From Fan­gio to Fit­ti­paldi to Senna to Schu­macher to fa­mous race­tracks, the glory and the drama; All that For­mula One has be­hind it is so im­por­tant for mo­tor­sport that it's im­pos­si­ble to fight with that.

"What we try to build is some­thing com­ple­men­tary, which may be smaller, and at the

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