Steve Matchett explains why he is ‘irresistibly drawn’ to Formula E

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Hear Steve Matchett explain why he is irresistibly drawn' to Formula E and why it's the most fascinating an unique new form of motorsports.

[MUSIC PLAYING] NARRATOR: Formula E is a relatively new concept of single seater motor sport. This fledgling FIA racing series currently campaigning, but its fourth season of international competition. Fresh, yes. But when this same green series has attracted a plethora of famous manufacturers from Formula One, IndyCar, and world endurance racing, then self-evidently, Formula E deserves our full attention. It's time to get under the skin of these highly-charged cars, and to see exactly what their distinctive lack of engine noise is all about.

The foundation of a Formula E car is its carbon fiber monocoque, a composite structure that is already well tried and tested, the same technology as employed in the Formula One World Championship and the IndyCar series. The car's front and rear suspension is familiar, too-- upper and lower wishbones, adjustable pushrods linked to dampers and coil springs, all sitting atop the chassis. But it's here that Formula E's avant-garde engineering veers sharply away from recognized convention. There is no full tank, no exhausts, no cams, pistons, or crank shaft-- no gasoline engine whatsoever.

The car is powered entirely by battery-stored electricity. The battery pack itself is unavoidably immense. You can't mistake it-- bright yellow in color, the size of an RV fridge, and weighing in at a mighty 300 kilograms. Now, that's more than 660 pounds in old money. The mechanics install it by use of a crane designed and built by a dedicated branch of the Williams Formula One team. It takes just 90 minutes for this state-of-the-art lithium ion battery to be fully charged.

At the present time, battery capacity is Formula E's limiting factor. Simply, the cars don't have sufficient stored energy to complete a full race distance. The drivers are required to pit halfway through the E-Prix, not for fresh tires, but to physically swap cars-- the drivers jumping from one chassis to another in a matter of seconds. The sport's engineers are working to address this issue. And from next season, with the teams equipped with a newly designed chassis and an updated McLaren-built battery, Formula E intends for their cars to run competitively throughout a full race distance.

All in all, I find myself irresistibly drawn to this new sport. Formula E is unique. It needs to be treated as such, too. The challenges faced by these teams are fresh and exciting. And this sport's fresh, exciting engineering has already won my attention. And together, I plan for us to learn more about it.