World’s First Electric Formula One Car Makes Its Debut In Las Vegas


With the first race of the inaugural Formula E Championship scheduled flag off in Beijing this September, participants have begun unveiling their speed machines. The first to be unveiled was the Spark-Renault SRT-01E Formula E car. It was showcased to the public for the first time on Monday, January 6th, at a makeshift race course in Las Vegas. Brazilian Formula One driver Lucas di Grassi was on hand to show-off the car’s performance.

For the uninitiated, the Formula E Championship is a grand prix for electric cars. As such, the unveiling of the Spark-Renault SRT-01E Formula E car had been eagerly anticipated by electric car and racing enthusiasts. The speed machine, designed by Spark Racing Technologies, certainly did not disappoint.

The car can go from 0 to 62mph in just 3 seconds. At its peak, it can hit a top speed of up to 150mph. Although this is way below the 220 to 240mph for conventional Formula One cars, speed freaks should cut the car some slack. Being fully electric-powered, it does not pollute the environmentally with harmful fumes like its diesel powered cousins.

What truly sets the Spark-Renault SRT-01E Formula E car apart from its F1 counterparts is its engine sound (or the lack of sound). Racing aficionados are used to the deafening notes emitted by racing car engines as they accelerate to maximum speed. The Formula E car does not produce anything even close. What it emits is a high-pitched buzzing sound which is sort of underwhelming. Racing purists are unlikely to be impressed by the lack of the powerful engine roar they have grown accustomed to.

What they will definitely be impressed with is its flexibility, dexterity and handling. Lucas Di Grassi showed off what the Spark-Renault SRT-01E Formula E car is capable of: he unleashed some breathtaking accelerations, pulled off some sharp turns and did some heart-throbbing sudden stops. He basically demonstrated that in terms of handling and responsiveness, the Spark-Renault SRT-01E can take on any F1 car. He later remarked that the car has an overwhelming tongue and a hypersensitive throttle. These, he added, make the car more exciting and challenging to handle on a race course.

The most shocking thing about the car is the battery life. The car possesses a 440 pound battery which lasts for only between 20 and 25 minutes. Of course all that handling must guzzle lots of power. Although this seems too little, it is adequate given the structure of the Formula E Championship races. Each race will take about an hour, and will have one or two scheduled stops. Unlike F1 races where drivers switch tires, in the Formula E race, drivers will switch cars. So, while the battery life can do with a whole lot of improvement, it is adequate for the purpose.

Although the Spark-Renault SRT-01E Formula E car was designed by Spark Racing Technologies, it was built in conjunction with motorsport companies such as McLaren, Dallara and Williams. Its tires were supplied by Michelin. 

The Spark-Renault SRT-01E Formula E car is just the first in a series of electric cars which are scheduled to be unveiled this year. The Formula E Championship will feature 10 teams, so there is no doubt the other teams will unveil their Electric Formula One Cars in the coming weeks or months. The best part of the Formula E is that there are no restrictions on designs, unlike F1. Therefore companies are free to push design and technology limits. This means that other Formula E cars yet to be unveiled might feature new innovative technologies. How exciting!