Formula E CEO Answers Questions From Fans
Following the inaugural Formula E race, which ended with a tantalizing crash, Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag answered questions from fans.
Here’s the transcript from the Q&A with Formula E’s CEO and above is video of Agag answering the question (if you’d rather watch and listen than read):
Night Raider ☝️ @rach_f1fan
What is Formula E trying to achieve with the FanBoost? Doesn’t this put the 17 other drivers at a disadvantage?
It does put the other 17 drivers at a disadvantage, that’s exactly what we were trying to achieve. If you didn’t put them at a disadvantage, there would be no advantage to the ones who get it. We want, for the first time, to make a sport accessible to the fans, interactive with the fans. Many people talk about interactivity and they say everything is interactive, but how do you make something really interactive? Doing FanBoost. Giving a real advantage, giving more horsepower in the race to three drivers in the race. And those three drivers can push a button and overtake one guy, but nobody is going to win a race. If he hasn’t got the pace but he has the FanBoost. He might if he’s strong enough to be second, like Nick for example. If Nick, who was running second the other day, if he’d have FanBoost, he might have pushed the FanBoost and overtook Nico and won the race. But that’s because he was there in second. If the guy who has FanBoost is 17th, he’s not going to be able to win the race. We want to introduce this element of interaction between the fans and the sport and it’s the first time in history that this thing is in place.
What sort of regulations will the teams have in year two? Will they be able to build their own batteries and use their own motors, and motor control software etc? I think allowing this would perhaps encourage manufacturers to get involved.
Yes, in year two they can build their own batteries and their own motors. They could build their own whole car if they wanted. But the regulations are quite strict and they don’t allow a lot of development in aerodynamics, but they do allow development in motor and battery. I would hope that we have three or four different makers of motors and batteries in the championship for year two.
What made you choose open wheel, single-seater Formula style cars, as opposed to other layout options?
To sell the dream of electric cars, it has to be that, a dream. The dream is single seater. The pinnacle of racing is single seater. It’s Formula 1 that makes people dream or IndyCar. We wanted to change the perception, the image of electric cars. To have a bunch of Prius – and I have the most respect for the Prius – racing around the track, that doesn’t change, that doesn’t break any visual barrier. Single seaters and electric have never been together, so we wanted to break that barrier, and that’s why we chose single seaters.
Kieran Timothy Atter @F1KTA
Are there any future plans to extend the calendar beyond 10 races? And what about expanding the grid past 20 entries?
Definitely yes, there are plans to go to more than 10 cities. Next year we will probably be in 12, and we want to grow slowly to get to a figure of around 18 races per year. We are talking to many cities, after Beijing we probably received requests from over 40 or 50 cities from all over the world to host a race, so that’s been really positive. The number of entries is 20 because we race with two cars per driver, so to move 40 cars around the world is already a lot. But I think when we go down to one car per race, when the batteries can last long, and can last for that amount of time, I think we can add two other teams, so that would be a total of 24 drivers.
Can we have a proper fan poll where we can vote on whether we want the music and/or the FanBoost please?
Yes you can. With FanBoost, even if you vote no we will keep it, but with the music we are ready to accept suggestions.
Stefan Ruitenberg @RaceTechStef
How did you get Williams and McLaren involved with powertrain and batteries?
We had a problem when we launched the championship and that was that we didn’t have a car, and without a car it’s very difficult to do a racing car championship, so we looked around all over the world for the best technology possible to put in these cars. Where did we find this technology? In Formula 1. Formula 1 went on the way of hybrid a few years ago with the KERS etc and the teams in Formula 1 have an amazing skill and expertise now in managing electric powertrains. That’s how we found the motor that McLaren was using on the P1. They were ready to work with and that’s the motor we are using in Formula E now. Williams was ready to do the challenge of the battery, which is a big, big, big challenge, because they had experience of the battery they were going to do for the Jaguar supercar. So we found those two companies and we invited them to participate and they were really keen and they’ve been amazing partners.
Has the fan response been what you expected, better, or worse?
The fan response has been fantastic, I think it’s been better than expected. Our website couldn’t take anymore visits the day of the race. Millions of views on YouTube, millions of viewers on television. Actually all the reactions have been really positive. This is a tough sell. Cars that don’t make that much noise, who go more slowly than other racing cars, why would people watch it? They watch it because it’s the future, it’s new technology, it’s exciting and so on, but people need to get that and I think the response has been fantastic.
Dudan Ignacio @imnotdudan
Wet races. How?
I think the best way to have wet races is to go to a place where it rains, and that’s coming up pretty soon, probably Malaysia, where we may have a wet race. We’ve been doing a lot of testing in the rain and I think it could be a spectacular race. And we have a tyre that is the same tyre for dry and for wet. Michelin has developed a special tyre that is for all conditions. It will be really exciting to see these tyres under pressure in the rain, and if it’s in Malaysia sometimes it’s quite a lot of rain, and I think we can see a fantastic race with lots of overtaking. Hopefully a good show.
Alejandro can you tell us how you envisage future seasons dealing with battery capacity/charging of cars and relying on one car to finish the race? You hinted about Qualcomm introducing wireless charging, can you go into details how it will be applied in practice?
We see wireless charging as one of the potential elements of the future in Formula E. Definitely battery development – new chemistry will bring the battery capacity to last longer, probably quite soon, maybe three to five years, the batteries can last the whole race, but we may decide because we like it to keep two cars with twice the amount of power and go much faster, we will see what makes a better show, I think probably a combination of both will happen. The wireless charging can be static or dynamic. Imagine dynamic wireless charging – the whole track has dynamic pads under the surface, the cars just go we could do the 24 electric hours with this system.
Nadia Enevoldsen @NadiaSDE
Why is there a minimum pitstop time? It takes all excitement out of the stops!
I completely agree. I wouldn’t do any minimum pitstop time but for safety reasons we need to do it. I know the drivers are also frustrated by that. But when we have a big crash like the one Nick had if he wouldn’t have been strapped correctly he probably would have been out the cockpit so I think it’s necessary for the drivers to take their time to buckle up correctly.