Luxury Car Blog

Formula E is the new F1

Formula EFormula E, the “green grand prix” came to New York City for the first time in July 2017 and attracted environmental campaigner and actor Leonardo DiCaprio as well as billionaire Richard Branson, who was there to watch his DS Virgin team and cheer them on to victory.

DiCaprio is actually one of the investors in the electric car race and was spotted by the press taking a tour of the circuit with Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag and visiting the garages housing the competing team cars. Formula E racing was launched in 2012 and the actor, who is passionate about the environment and climate change, quickly got on board with the concept and put his money behind it. And, he is not just a passive investor; he has also co-founded a team with Venturi Automobiles and at the NYC race, the team driver Maro Engel won the Visa fastest lap bonus point.

Meanwhile, Sam Bird, who drives for DS Virgin stood in the No.1 spot on the winners’ podium at the inaugural New York race and had already sailed through the trials. Needless to say, owner Richard Branson was delighted at the result and was seen cheering and clapping Sam. Sam Bird moved up to fourth place in the Formula E table having formerly been in eighth place.

The race took place along the Brooklyn waterfront and DiCaprio and Branson weren’t the only celebrities in attendance; Michael Douglas with his wife Catherin Zeta-Jones and Trevor Noah from “The Daily Show” also enjoyed watching the race from the stands. Sir Richard Branson was also given the honour of pushing the button to light up the Empire State Building in celebration of Formula E’s arrival in New York on the Friday before the race and he is clearly a big name who will bring a wider audience to electric car racing and help to make clean racing an alternative to Formula 1, where fuel consumption is high, to say the least.

DiCaprio also hopes that E racing will change people’s perception of electric cars in general. He is the chair of the Formula E Sustainability Committee and told reporters that apart from raising public perception of electric vehicles, “I also was drawn to the fact that that Formula E only races in city centers. I’m concerned about cities. They represent an environmental time bomb.”

He is deeply concerned about air quality and believes climate change is both “a moral and business imperative.” He also commented: “The committee, by uniting the top 10 global mobility and innovation players on the subject of sustainability sends a clear sign that we are on the frontlines of helping to solve the climate crisis.’

Formula E is run by the Fédération International de l’Automobile (FIA) and the inaugural championship started in Beijing on 13 September 2014 and since then has been held at cities all over the world. The teams drive F-style cars that reach speeds of 140 mph but have a much lower noise output; instead of screaming down the straightaways, Formula E cars sound more like giant hummingbirds. In New York, 20 drivers participated, including first timers Panasonic Jaguar.

It’s the green alternative to Formula 1 and New York is the second-to-last of nine stops for the Formula E series. Previous race sites include Berlin, Monaco, Paris and Mexico City. In two weeks, the series finishes in Montreal. But if you missed it this year – there is always 2018.
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