Formula E CEO Answers Questions From Fans

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 3

Formula E CEO Answers Questions

Formula E CEO Answers Questions

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.

Joseph Keaveney

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.

Drake Wilson

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.

Stephen CWLL

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.

Brij ‏@mma_brij

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.

Mazen Kara

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.

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3 responses to "Formula E CEO Answers Questions From Fans"

  1. Jay Donnaway says:

    I could not say it better than John Wayland, as follows:

    What a huge disappointment – not
    in the cars themselves, but rather the extremely lame broadcast coverage.
    I believe a grade school kid with a cell phone capturing video could
    have done better.

    You would think, with all the pent up anticipation of the very first
    race of its kind with unique all electric machines breaking into the
    otherwise gas-fueled world of formula racing, and with bleeding edge
    tech abounding, that there would have been detailed video interludes
    showing the cars up close – the electric motors, the battery packs, the
    controllers, the charging system, etc. Along with all that, surely there
    would have been narrated dialog explaining all of it – interviews with
    drivers giving their take on driving an electric formula type car vs
    what they were used to, “Man, the torque out of the corners is awesome!”
    , or maybe ” The top end acceleration of these AC electric motors is
    smooth and relentless”, or some kind of something… nope! Not a peep
    about what the speeds were that these first of their kind cars were
    hitting, not a peep about how they compared to the gas versions, not a
    peep about how electric cars are the new wave of performance – not a
    peep about any of this!

    And what’s up with switching cars in the middle of a race? Talk about
    ruining a race by changing all the dynamics mid stream! I know that some
    brainiac (not) committee came up with a standard kWh sized pack that all
    these cars had to stick with, but that size could have easily have been
    made large enough for minimal impact on performance and handling, to
    where the cars could have completed the course without the
    oh-so-negative statement about ‘EVs running out of power’! And again,
    where was the narrative explaining all this so the new viewers had an
    understanding of it all?

    About the only thing ‘done right’, was very well mixed audio from both
    inside the cars as well as track-side captures of the cars zipping by
    with their straight-cut gear whine, AC motor whir, and paddle shifted
    gear changes… putting to rest the ‘lack of exciting noise’ issue.
    Again though, minus ‘any’ tech talk narration and or show & tell video
    detailing what was making those sounds – it was all wasted.

    Geez – at least show the winner pounding his chest by doing tire-boiling
    doughnuts in his wicked Formula E race car as a victory statement!

    It was so dull, so uninteresting, and what a shame about the opportunity
    lost! The producers of the telecast all need to be fired! I would not
    blame any gas-addicted racing fan to come away from suffering through
    this, shaking his head and laughing about lame electric race cars. I do
    not think it’s possible to have done a worse job of introducing the
    world to what should have been a monumental moment in racing history 🙁

    An all new production company needs to be brought on board that has race
    car savvy, knows how to make things interesting and exciting, and that
    can turn this thing around pronto, or this Formula E thing will be the
    disaster this first televised race was.

    See Ya… John Wayland

  2. Dave Erb says:

    Sorry, folks, but FIA Formula E isn’t the first race series for electric single seaters: see
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formula_Lightning
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6qjJWFRrlI

    It’s not even the first Formula E series for electric single seaters: see page 11 of
    http://www.transportation.anl.gov/pdfs/C/25.pdf

    Those who fail to learn from history, …

  3. Jaime says:

    the spanish people know who is he, is the “yernísimo”.