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The Quiet Revolution of Formula E Electric Car Racing 116

Posted by samzenpus
from the quiet-time dept.
pbahra writes One of the greatest emotional triggers at any auto-racing event is the noise. In Nascar, it is the earthshaking growl of V8 American muscle. In Formula One, it is the chest-rattling wail of 15,000 rpm. To some the sound is repellent. To others it is like an opera. But what if there is no sound at all? Welcome to the quiet world of Formula E, a global racing series for electric cars, which debuts this month in Beijing.
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The Quiet Revolution of Formula E Electric Car Racing

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  • quiet = powerful (Score:4, Insightful)

    by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @04:59PM (#47820327) Homepage Journal

    I think the idea of cars that go >200mph that barely make a sound is pretty badass...

    in other areas of "badass stuff" like planes, the stealth is unquestionably considered "badass"

    there's no reason that "badassness" can't carry over from planes to cars

    • by Virtucon (127420)

      Unfortunately these cars won't do 200MPH maybe downhill with a tailwind perhaps.

      • by bjwest (14070) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:43PM (#47820769)

        Unfortunately these cars won't do 200MPH...

        Neither did the Grand Prix [wikipedia.org] cars in the beginning. Racing and its popularity helped guide the auto industry to where it is now. I can only hope that electric car racing will do the same for the innovation in the electric market.

        • by Virtucon (127420)

          A lot of car makers left F1 in the past, Mercedes has returned, but Honda, BMW and Toyota have left. Honda will be back but only because of the V6 synergy and Nissan does have a relationship with Renault but unfortunately that's not going to probably equate to something you and I would drive for a long time. Motor Racing does help drive innovation but in a sport where the FIA have virtually done away with any concept of innovation, it'll be difficult to see how this new formula will enhance the sport or s

          • by mjwx (966435) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @03:43AM (#47823385)

            A lot of car makers left F1 in the past, Mercedes has returned, but Honda, BMW and Toyota have left. Honda will be back but only because of the V6 synergy and Nissan does have a relationship with Renault but unfortunately that's not going to probably equate to something you and I would drive for a long time. Motor Racing does help drive innovation but in a sport where the FIA have virtually done away with any concept of innovation, it'll be difficult to see how this new formula will enhance the sport or spur innovation in day to day cars. Fans are leaving, sponsors are worried and that means no money and a dead series coming soon.

            Pretty much. Most motorsports are so bogged down with rules about how much power an engine can have, minimum and maximum sizes, transmission specifications, length of the tie rods and so forth that no real innovation can be done, it's all about shaving 0.01 of a second off a pit stop (and most people will never be able to handle a high flow fuel pump so no advantages there).

            The old Group A and B rally cars used to see a lot of innovation as people modified production cars but those days are long gone as well. Most innovation either comes from the labs of motoring giants or tiny workshops who sell new designs and modifications to motoring giants.

          • by Christian Smith (3497) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @07:57AM (#47823955) Homepage

            A lot of car makers left F1 in the past, Mercedes has returned, but Honda, BMW and Toyota have left.

            Only because they were having their ass handed to them on a plate. Toyota achieved literally nothing in their F1 stint, BMW did get some wins, but weren't competitive enough to justify the investment. Honda ditto, but left at the wrong time (the post-Honda Brawn team won the 2009 championship with the Honda designed car.)

            And there are other racing series, which may be more road relevent. The Audi R18 e-tron has a Diesel hybrid drivetrainm with flywheel based energy storage. Very road relavent and innovative in the field.

            Motor Racing does help drive innovation but in a sport where the FIA have virtually done away with any concept of innovation, it'll be difficult to see how this new formula will enhance the sport or spur innovation in day to day cars. Fans are leaving, sponsors are worried and that means no money and a dead series coming soon.

            It's not all about innovation. It's also about the grunt work of refining what you have. That's why Mercedes are dominating even the other identically powered cars. They've done the best job within the rules defined.

            And there are lots of ways to innovate in chassis and aerodynamic design. The current crop of F1 cars have a very diverse array of front end designs.

            And lets be honest, most F1 innovations don't translate to road cars anyway. The biggest influence of F1 and other motor racing has been in the engine management and fuel injection areas. Racing aerodynamics? Moot. Suspension design? Not applicable to most road cars. Sequential gearboxes? Came from bikes anyway. Tires? Irrelevent unless you only want your tires to last a week.

            • by Virtucon (127420) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @11:45AM (#47826157)

              Only because they were having their ass handed to them on a plate. Toyota achieved literally nothing in their F1 stint, BMW did get some wins, but weren't competitive enough to justify the investment. Honda ditto, but left at the wrong time (the post-Honda Brawn team won the 2009 championship with the Honda designed car.)

              Yes it has to make good financial and business sense if a company is going to be in any racing series. If you look one key reason BMW left. [f1fanatic.co.uk]

              Premium [brands] will increasingly be defined in terms of sustainability and environmental compatibility. This is an area in which we want to remain in the lead. In line with our Strategy Number ONE, we are continually reviewing all projects and initiatives to check them for future viability and sustainability. Our Formula One campaign is thus less a key promoter for us.
              Norbert Reithofer

              It was because they felt F1 wasn't relevant to their business and wasn't green enough. Okay, I'll agree to that but motor racing isn't about green, it never should be about green and being eco-friendly. It's racing FFS! If you come in it looking for butterflies and rainbows you're in the wrong sport.

              And there are other racing series, which may be more road relevent. The Audi R18 e-tron has a Diesel hybrid drivetrainm with flywheel based energy storage. Very road relavent and innovative in the field.

              And the FIA for F1 says storage is electric, Williams helped design the flywheel technology you mention and has quite a few patents around it however they can't use it in F1 and they're an F1 team. Again, teams can't innovate even on ERS design, it's mandated that it be this way because some bureaucrats thought it best.

              It's not all about innovation. It's also about the grunt work of refining what you have. That's why Mercedes are dominating even the other identically powered cars. They've done the best job within the rules defined.

              And there are lots of ways to innovate in chassis and aerodynamic design. The current crop of F1 cars have a very diverse array of front end designs.

              And lets be honest, most F1 innovations don't translate to road cars anyway. The biggest influence of F1 and other motor racing has been in the engine management and fuel injection areas. Racing aerodynamics? Moot. Suspension design? Not applicable to most road cars. Sequential gearboxes? Came from bikes anyway. Tires? Irrelevent unless you only want your tires to last a week.

              Agreed, they've done a great job but so have other teams but the rules like homologation for power units means that technology freezes for six years. Sure, gear ratios (twice a year) and fuel maps can be changed but if you did it right to begin with, that's a huge advantage but now that leaves everybody struggling because they can't innovate to compete. The only other area is Aero within a defined set of parameters, again, defined by the FIA and with cost reduction initiatives simulator time, wind tunnel time is all governed which means your racing to a budget, not producing the best thing you can. No team has infinite resources but it would be nice to see differences in the cars and different schemes, like maybe flywheel recovery in ERS but that's a pipe dream. What this leads to is conservative designs instead of leading designs for the sake of reliability vs ultimate performance. That makes it like a deranged pinewood derby.

              • by Shinobi (19308)

                "It was because they felt F1 wasn't relevant to their business and wasn't green enough. Okay, I'll agree to that but motor racing isn't about green, it never should be about green and being eco-friendly. It's racing FFS! If you come in it looking for butterflies and rainbows you're in the wrong sport."

                What would green or not green have to do with it being racing or not. Racing is the act of competing with others over time/distance/velocity. If someone chooses to take their formula towards less fuel use, it'

                • by Virtucon (127420)

                  What would green or not green have to do with it being racing or not. Racing is the act of competing with others over time/distance/velocity. If someone chooses to take their formula towards less fuel use, it's still racing. Sure, it's not the racing of your childhood. But, to be frank, I don't want those times to come back either.

                  Then go for something truly radical instead of electric cars, go for some geewhiz-bang nuke-powered cars. It should make shimozzles into the barriers much more entertaining. Tracks like Imola are now "unsafe" how long before Spa and Monza disappear because of the same wimpy ass thinking? Shit we might as well fit training wheels and big L stickers to the backs of all the cars now.

                  Wrong. So wrong. Power Units are only frozen over the season. You can make changes in-between seasons. Also, contrary to popular belief, some constraints actually bring more creativity. As the old saying goes: "An F1 engineer reads the specs twice: Once to see what it says, once to see what it doesn't say"

                  Really? Humm I think you need to rethink that statement. That's not accurate, the FIA wants to lock the designs in so they hav

      • by Matheus (586080)

        Double posting on this thread but so you have it in the same tree:
        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sci... [dailymail.co.uk]

        No tailwind required :-)

        • by Virtucon (127420)

          That's not a Formula E car. Yes and electrics will get better yada yada yada. Formula E to me will be as exciting as watching flies fuck. (Sorry George Carlin) but if you want a more exciting series put a bunch of old farts on hoverounds, that would be great. Canes flying. Walkers thrown all the while ripping along at 4mph.

          • by savuporo (658486)

            Eliica did 230mph, in 2004.
            TTXGP bikes are closing in on gas bike speeds rapidly. In Pikes Peak hill climb electrics actually BEST some ICE cars in a few categories - because air breathing engines start to run out of air at altitude.
            There is no fundamental reason of physics or engineering that would dictate electric drivetrains top speed to be any slower than ICE.

            In other words, you are wrong.

            • by Virtucon (127420)

              230 MPH? Great but The FIA will outlaw it. It'll be too fast. That's why you see the latest generation of Tilke designed tracks all having short straights and lots of curves. That's also why you see fans wanting more of the old style tracks like Spa, Monza, Imola and Ricard because they were designed for speed, not FIA bureaucrats.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        They do have incredible amounts of acceleration though. This year a lot of F1 drivers have been skidding as they put the power on coming out of corners due to the immense torque available from their electric energy recovery systems. Formula E cars are even more extreme and the tracks are all city based, so we should see some exciting races.

        • by Virtucon (127420)

          Formula E extreme? That's a stretch. Again, get old people on mobility scooters and put them on a 1/4 mile oval. The racing would be much more exciting.

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      According to the FIA Formula E site [fia.com] they will go a maximum of 225Km/h. That is about 135mph. While they look the F1 cars they can not go nearly as fast.

      • by Matheus (586080)

        "Can Not" != "May Not"

        The whole point of Formula 1 is that all cars are under a very tight parameter restriction so the race is in the hands of the driver more than it is the mechanics. (Not to say they are all truly "equal" but they could be.)

        Electric cars are more than capable of going faster than that:
        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sci... [dailymail.co.uk]

        • by jklovanc (1603149)

          Electric cars are more than capable of going faster than that:

          But can it go that fast for the entire race? Maybe the top speed is restricted so that the battery will last half the race.

          F1 races go up to 330kmh while E1 races will only go up to 225kmh. My point is that E1 races will be slower than F1 races.

        • by arth1 (260657)

          The whole point of Formula 1 is that all cars are under a very tight parameter restriction so the race is in the hands of the driver more than it is the mechanics.

          That's today's F1, with fuel flow and rpm restrictions. The F1 of yesteryear was very different, and there could be extreme differences. Some cars went much faster, but accellerated slower. Others had an emphasis on brakes or curve hugging. Or on completing a race with one pit stop less.
          I find F1 today completely uninteresting, much like a Indy cars with lower top speed. There's next to no difference between cars, and few overtakings. It's like the emphasis is on making it so uneventful that you can bu

    • by mjwx (966435)

      I think the idea of cars that go >200mph that barely make a sound is pretty badass...

      in other areas of "badass stuff" like planes, the stealth is unquestionably considered "badass"

      there's no reason that "badassness" can't carry over from planes to cars

      At 320 KPH you're tyre's alone are going to be pretty loud.

      If you put performance run-flats on a Prius it will be loud at 80 KPH. The only reason electric cars are so quiet is the fact they have tyres designed for low road noise. Put some normal tyres on and that goes out the window (just swap the tyres from a GT86, they've got the same wheels as the Prius).

      The real kicker will be the 8 hour pit stops.

      • by mjwx (966435)
        Erm, that's meant to be your (yes one day I will learn to proof read and no apostrophe in tyres either.
  • coincidentally:
    Nascar fans equal waste.

  • This years rules mean most engines are running in the 10-12k range and sound pretty subdued, sadly.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They can run at 15k RPM this year. The change was from 18k to 15k.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formula_One_engines#Engine_specification_progression

      I think they still sound pretty nice, although not a screaming as previously.

      • by Virtucon (127420)

        the 100kg/hr fuel flow rate limiting is why all teams are well below 15K RPM and they sound like glorified Weed Eaters. The FIA have been working to enhance the sound with changing the exhaust note using a megaphone exhaust pipe. http://www.autosport.com/news/... [autosport.com]

        I've been watching F1 since the 1970s and this is the most boring, lifeless, set of machines I've seen.

        • by Shinobi (19308)

          Meh, if you went to Formula 1 or Nascar or Indycar for the sound you were doing it wrong anyway.

          For sound, you go to Top Fuel drag races, or, even louder, air shows(The 16 Spitfire low-altitude flyby at Duxford in 2010 for example... Made any F1, Nascar or Indycar race seem tame, no matter what engines you wanted to compare with)

          As for the rest, the V6's are just so much more impressive than the V8's and V10's, which several engineers from F1 have said were pretty much dead-ends upgrade wise. What makes thi

          • by Virtucon (127420)

            You mean the 1000ft drag racing or the 1/4 mile drag racing?

            As for motor racing, I've followed and attended F1 races for almost 40 years now and in every season there's been controversy. This year however there were too many changes made and if you look over the past 10 years a strange thing emerges. Lap records aren't being broken, most were set in the V10 era and the V8s didn't break them and now the V6s won't either. Sorry the cars are still quick but they're loose, the brake by wire system is leavin

            • by Shinobi (19308)

              Both forms of drag racing. The Top Fuel cars just roar.

              To offer a counterpoint to your lopsided highlighting, the last 10 years have also seen some tracks modified, meaning that old V10 records can't be beaten anymore either. Also, the drivers are NOT conservative, given the cars, given how much more actual racing action there is.

              VJ Mallya being the leader of a mid-tier team that lives on advertising exposure more than any technical skill. And Ferrari who are constantly whining when they are not in their le

              • by Virtucon (127420)

                LOL, check your stats at the Hungaroring, attendance was down. I hear that about Ferrari but all the teams except AMG seem to have severe issues with the rule changes. That's the nature of any sport, when your on top things look pretty good. Also Force India has been a great team given their limited budgets but that's the rub, in an effort to cut costs the FIA has created artificial areas where innovation has remained stagnant and it takes money to race. I just hope they don't get as daft as IndaCar wit

                • by Shinobi (19308)

                  The stats for Hungaroring are correct, attendance was up. There were, however, fewer tickets booked in advance, many waited for last-minute tickets.

                  And, your mention about the cost is the real rub, and why almost all motorsports face struggles. It's too expensive to attend. Le Mans and the WEC seems to have managed to turn it around. The ticket for Le Mans 24h main event is quite a bit cheaper than the equivalent type of ticket for any F1 event. Indycar is also struggling(At one race recently, NBC proudly s

                  • by Virtucon (127420)

                    Probably jaded because too many series getting driven into the ground. With the F1 teams being worried, that should say enough about the fact that F1 is going in the wrong direction. IndyCar is struggling because of trying to focus on low dollar racing, creating an incredibly boring series. F1 will head there as well. I'll still watch F1, probably attend the USGP next year if there is one too. The WEC series is turning around and LeMans is one race I have yet to attend, so maybe I'll focus over there i

          • by BitZtream (692029) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @08:21PM (#47821921)

            For sound, you go to Top Fuel drag races, or, even louder, air shows(The 16 Spitfire low-altitude flyby at Duxford in 2010 for example... Made any F1, Nascar or Indycar race seem tame, no matter what engines you wanted to compare with)

            Let me guess, you're one of those guys that think music is better if its louder ...

            Loud doesn't impress me. The sound of a turbo blow off value in something like a Toyota Supra as it cycles through the lower gears in just a couple seconds is for more sexy than any top fuel dragster, and thats just out of the factory.

            The sound of a Audi turbo diesel in an LMP1 car running at Road Atlanta for Petit Le Mons or at Le Mons is far sexier than the roar of a top fuel dragster where you can rest assured that before the end of the day, part of the sound you are hearing from the dragster is one or more pistons vaporizing and coming out the exhaust. With the Audi turbo diesels you hear more of the turbo blow off and transmission noise than you do of the engine and they do it for 24 hours straight in one piece, and they spend their entire time at the top of the field and in the winners circle or at the minimum on the podium.

            Don't get me wrong, TF dragsters are impressive powerful beasts, but they are hardly sexy.

            The larger engines are not 'dead ends'. They are too big for the sanctions put in place on F1 to keep the costs and more importantly, the speeds down. If you can make a V6 as fast as a restricted V8, then you've just saved some weight when means faster acceleration. It doesn't mean the V8 is maxed out, its just restricted so theres no point in trying to go any faster with them. With a V6 doing the same, you can almost certainly carry less fuel and less engine weight as well as lower rotating mass. All of these things add up to faster lap times due to better acceleration and braking.

            F1, Indy, Champ, all those style of cars has been working to reduce top speeds for the last 10 years at least, probably longer.

            • Loud doesn't impress me. The sound of a turbo blow off value in something like a Toyota Supra as it cycles through the lower gears in just a couple seconds is for more sexy than any top fuel dragster, and thats just out of the factory.

              You want to try going 60km/h on a silent electric bicycle, or pulling 40 knots in a sailboat. I used to be a car guy, but have learnt that noise is just noise. The real thrill is speed, and not just raw numbers, but speed relative to the vehicle you're in/on. And once you've had a taste of silent speed it's hard to go back to the noisy old dinosaurs of the 20th century. One day our kids will look back and laugh just like I did when I first saw the black-faced old engineer shoveling coal into a steam train f

            • by Shinobi (19308)

              "Let me guess, you're one of those guys that think music is better if its louder ...

              Loud doesn't impress me. The sound of a turbo blow off value in something like a Toyota Supra as it cycles through the lower gears in just a couple seconds is for more sexy than any top fuel dragster, and thats just out of the factory."

              You didn't read my entire post in context then. It was a reaction to Virtucon complaining that the cars did not squeal as high-revved and quite as loud this year and claiming that the noise wa

          • For sound, I've found the best venue is tractor pulling. All kinds of motive power in a single meet, from RR Griffons to high-strung V8 to helicopter turbines to methanol two-stage turbo engines. Because speeds are relatively low you can get really close to the track, it also means more immersion in the sound compared to having cars whizz by at 200+ km/h.

  • ...The "opera" category. I'd never been to any sort of motorsports event until I experienced F1 at the Circuit of the Americas. There is nothing like hearing that banshee wail coming at you from all directions. Amazing.

    That being said, hearing little but tire noise during a race would be pretty damn interesting, too. I'll definitely check it out if it comes to COTA.

    • ...The "opera" category. I'd never been to any sort of motorsports event until I experienced F1 at the Circuit of the Americas. There is nothing like hearing that banshee wail coming at you from all directions. Amazing.

      If you're in the US, and more specifically, the Midwest, check out a mini-sprint race if you can. Those little bastards are bonkers, as are the people who typically drive them.

      One of the fondest memories of my childhood was being lulled to sleep every Saturday night by the roar of those little race cars, echoing across the valley from a nearby track.

    • by Shatrat (855151) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:34PM (#47820683)

      You should check out MotoGP next spring as well. It's got all the noise and power of F1, but with actual overtaking.

  • Actually... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by almitydave (2452422) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:16PM (#47820497)

    Although the current regulations allow Formula 1 engines to rev up to 15,000 RPM, they don't because that would exceed the maximum fuel flow requirements. I believe the practical limit is around 11,000. F1 introduced a new hybrid powertrain this year that ironically has caused some uproar because it's perceived as too quiet, compared to the screaming V8s and V10s that ran at 18-19,000 RPM. Audi's diesel LMP cars are also quiet compared to other ICE race cars - you don't need earplugs around them - but they're not silent.

    I'd love to check out a Formula E race if I have a chance, and I hope the series does well. I think there's the potential for an all-electric racing series to contribute toward the technological development of powertrains in electric road-going cars, just as traditional gas-powered auto racing has with ICE road cars.

    • by Smidge204 (605297)

      F1 has had energy recovery (aka "hybrid") drivetrains for a few years now. The big difference is they've basically doubled the size and capacity, and added a turbine to the exhaust to recover energy from that instead of just regenerative brakes.

      I can't say I'm much of a racing fan but the technology is quite interesting in and of itself.
      =Smidge=

      • Re:Actually... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Virtucon (127420) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:40PM (#47820747)

        And it's the most boring year for F1 ever. Unfortunately the FIA and F1 (two separate entities) didn't realize that motor racing does involve the sound of the sport and the competition. Fans have been reluctant to accept it and aren't showing up at races. This is bad news for a sport that depends on a lot of revenue from people in the stands. Apart from that the FIA in it's eco-green mentality also mandated 100KG of fuel max consumption along with a max fuel rate of 100KG/hr limiting all of the engines in terms of RPM output (read more screaming engines). This has resulted in engines that barely rev above 11000 RPMs whereas last year it was 18000. Despite FIA allowing 15000 RPM limits. Regrettably the powers haven't yet realized that motor racing has nothing to do with being eco-friendly and that will kill F1 as a sport. Oh did I forget to mention the guy who runs F1 is a criminal and just bought his way out of a bribery trial in which he could have gone to prison for $100m? Yeah that's what you want a real life Snidley Whiplash running your races, not to mention the former head of the FIA was caught getting spankings from Nazi themed prostitutes. Yeah, F1 is a mess.

        Formula E is no better, actually its worse because they have proposed using twitter during races to provide extra power to the cars. Un-fucking believable.

        • Re:Actually... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Shinobi (19308) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @06:27PM (#47821143)

          Wait, seriously...

          Are you saying that a year with MORE overtakes, FEWER processions etc, and due to the reduced downforce are actually more difficult to drive than previous years cars, is boring, because they sound different?

          Because, let me tell you, I was at Hockenheim, and those cars are still damn loud when you're there in person. Loud enough that I used my Peltors.

          • by Virtucon (127420)

            I was there, where were you? Hockenheim was a great race only because of rain and because of Lewis moving up the pack. If you haven't noticed other than Mercedes AMG, RBR have only gotten to the top podium spot because of their own failures. So measures to improve the competition have led to the same thing. Maybe they should add titanium spark blocks or double points in a race to make it more exciting. Wait, they've already done that with Abu Dhabi and the spark blocks is a TBD.

            • by Shinobi (19308)

              I was at the Mercedes grandstand at turn 8, and seated close to the edge so I had some view of Parabolica too.

              As for your complaining about spark blocks etc, that's on the same level as wanting more noise just for the sake of noise.

              • by Virtucon (127420)

                I was in the Parabolica stands closer to Turn 4.

                Spark blocks are another gimmick just like DRS. They haven't made nor will they make the sport more exciting. Neither will Double points in Abu Dhabi however maybe they'll introduce a chase so that at the summer break, the top 10 drivers/teams will compete for the champsionship. Yeah, that's fucked NASCAR and the NHRA up quite a bit. Well the NHRA fucked themselves by keeping the 1000 foot rule in place after Kalitta's death.

        • Re:Actually... (Score:5, Informative)

          by jareth-0205 (525594) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @06:41PM (#47821261) Homepage

          And it's the most boring year for F1 ever.

          I mean boring is entirely a personal judgement but... *really*? A leading team rivalry that is up there with Hunt/Lauda and Senna/Prost in its intensity, a decapitation of the reigning champion (and humiliation behind his new teammate), the resurgence of Williams, a whole bunch of new stars on the rise? A bunch of new mistakes made all across the board as drivers struggle with twitchy cars?

          I don't know what F1 you've been watching but for me this year is far more interesting than the Red Bull-Vettel dominance of the last 3 years.

          • by Virtucon (127420)

            We can debate that sure. Let's roll back to 2013 where there were lots of different podium finishers and then suddenly Silverstone and the exploding tire fiasco. So despite protests from a lot of the teams, the FIA had Pirelli change back to the compounds that favored RBR. After Silverstone 2013 was a completely different season from before. The racing was just as exciting and we even got to see Alonso win at the Spanish GP. It was exciting and it kept fans in the stands.

            Switch forward to 2014
            Williams

        • I wonder how they reconcile their Eco-green mentality with organising an event that encourages 100,000 people to drive their cars maybe 20,000,000 kilometres to attend.
          • Sorry, make that 2,000,000 km. But you get the idea.
          • by Virtucon (127420)

            LOL, that made me laugh but it's true. Not to mention all the planes and helicopters for the drivers/spectators along with all the air cargo transport needed to ferry it around the planet.

          • by MtHuurne (602934)

            I think the eco aspect is not in the race itself, but in F1 acting as R&D for technologies that will eventually end up in consumer cars. By having fuel restrictions, they're forcing the engineers to look for ways to do more with the same amount of fuel.

        • by Smidge204 (605297)

          You sound bitter and frustrated. For example, it doesn't matter one iota what the head of FIA is up to...

          As to attendance figures, I had to Google that because I don't really follow F1 as a sport. I've seen speculation on everything from prohibitive costs for tickets to better television/internet access to simply fewer people being interested, but the only people who say it's because of the "lack of noise" are a handful of seemingly bitter dipshits like yourself who always throw in non sequitur arguments li

        • Re:Actually... (Score:4, Informative)

          by Jack Griffin (3459907) on Thursday September 04, 2014 @12:30AM (#47822885)

          Fans have been reluctant to accept it and aren't showing up at races.

          This fails the logic test. F1 only visits one country per season (with a minor exception). If this is the first season, how would anyone know what the cars sound like until they are there at the track and have paid for their ticket? If sound is to blame for poor crowds, then any impact wouldn't be felt until next season after crowds have had a chance to hear them at least once. I've been to a couple of F1s. The interest is usually dictated by driver personalities. It goes up when you have the likes of Schumacher and Senna, then wanes with the likes of Vettel, and Alonso.

          • by Virtucon (127420)

            I guess you've never seen the Tifosi then? That's why Ferrari can whine like a little bitch all the time. Actually there was a lot of "Meh" during Schumacher's prime years and you'll find that all drivers have big followings with the exception of maybe a few of the back marker teams. What draws the crowds is the excitement of the racing and F1 has become boring as shit. I hate to say that as a fan, but it has and pushing cost containment and eco friendly features all means more boring so I'll probably g

    • by errxn (108621)

      I'd love to check out a Formula E race if I have a chance, and I hope the series does well. I think there's the potential for an all-electric racing series to contribute toward the technological development of powertrains in electric road-going cars, just as traditional gas-powered auto racing has with ICE road cars.

      Concur. There's no amount of pedantic eco-shaming that's gonna convince me to buy and drive an utterly boring crapbox, which is the only affordable option these days. If anyone can figure out ho

      • by Shinobi (19308)

        "If anyone can figure out how to up the performance without sacrificing too much efficiency, it's F1. I'm excited to see them getting into this."

        Eh, look into WEC. Those LMP1-H cars are insane. Pretty decent power, better downforce than F1's, while still tuned for endurance races

        The interesting thing is that the current 3 LMP1-H teams all have different hybrid approaches: Toyota with a normally aspirated petrol V8 and a supercapacitor storage system for the hybrid boost. Porsche with a Turbocharged V4 and a

        • by Virtucon (127420)

          You just pointed out something that's missing in F1, diversity in power plants. The FIA mandates how many cylinders and how energy is to be recovered. That's not innovation, it's targeted bureaucracy.

          • by Shinobi (19308)

            FIA mandates a lot of things for the LMP cars too.... Turbo-charged cars can't have the same volume as normally aspirated engines. Different displacements for petrol and diesel. Only piston engines allowed. Different fuel flow rates and maximum fuel loads allowed based on what engine and fuel you use, and your MJ rating for the hybrid system. There are also restrictor plates to limit to around 700BHP for the IC engine.

            So, MORE regulations than in F1. Yet those manufacturers, unlike Ferarri in F1, make some

          • by errxn (108621)

            This is true, but I see the reasoning behind it. It's a rough equivalent to the salary cap in team sports. If you don't do this, it's highly likely that most of the time, the championships start just rotating between two or three most well-funded teams. And this makes it boring for everyone.

            • by Virtucon (127420)

              That's the incongruity of the situation and why the FIA has imposed ridiculous rules on how much supercomputing time can be used etc. to attempt at balancing the competition. What this has led to is teams like RBR where they'll go out, find some innovation, like Carbon Fiber layout software and lock the vendor into only supplying that technology to them. This gave RBR a distinct advantage in front wing design that allowed strength but also flexibility to get skirt some of the rules. If you can't build it

              • by errxn (108621)

                Yes, hence my choice of '*rough* equivalent'. You obviously know WAY more about this than I do, but that was about the best thing I could come up with on the fly.

        • by errxn (108621)

          Thanks for the tip, and it actually reinforces my larger point: that it's going to be the racing side of the automotive industry that drives the kind of innovation in electric cars that will eventually make them more attractive to the average buyer.

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      There is very title in racing that is sexier than the silver and red Audi diesel LMP cars where the turbo blow off and transmission noise is louder than the engine noise, or at least it seems that way from trackside.

      I was never a fan of Audi ... but watching those cars at Petit Le Mons is a treat. It never bothers me when one of them beat out the guy I'm cheering for. Its okay to come in second (or third, since there are generally 2 Audi's in first and second) when the Audi's are who you're following. Se

    • Indeed. People are now complaining the cars actually sound like lawnmowers. It's not the high-screeching sounds anymore.
      I like the new sound actually.
  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:27PM (#47820625)

    You mean the wail of high frequency electric motor drivers?

    • by Virtucon (127420)

      Think oversized RC cars. [youtube.com] Maybe they'll give the fans controllers and we can just get rid of those pesky drivers.

    • by raxx7 (205260)

      You can actually do some fun things with it

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDAut8Tlf7w

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Not sure if you were going for funny, but a fully loaded 800kW VVVF drive for an electric motor is about as loud as a family sedan, and the motor itself measured 89dB.

  • Sounds Cool (Score:5, Funny)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:27PM (#47820629) Homepage Journal

    I love auto racing, in all its forms. Can't wait until they start televising this circuit, especially every time a driver pits to swap vehicles; from TFA:

    The cars can run for about 25 minutes in race conditions, depending on the power level. That means the drivers will have to switch cars halfway through, because the technology to replace or recharge a battery midrace hasn't been perfected yet. Which creates pit stops with drivers scrambling out of one single-seater, hopping to another, and having mechanics buckle them in.

    That should be rather entertaining :)

  • by eepok (545733) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @05:30PM (#47820651) Homepage

    This is really cool. I'll probably watch a race... if at all possible. But I'm really watching Formula E as an industry because I can't wait for the day when they announce "Next year, no more car-swapping! You must develop battery-swapping methods!" Let Formula E be the test bed for 30 different battery swapping methods and let the world be better for it.

    • by Shinobi (19308)

      The plan is that one day, they will have allowed that, when a battery swap in a race car during a race is not a close equivalent to juggling a live bomb.

      Basically, they want a few years to get some safety into a race-capable quick-swap system to reduce the risk of bad accidents in pit lane.

      • by Smidge204 (605297)

        So swapping a battery mid-race would be "a close equivalent to juggling a live bomb" but for nearly two decades it was acceptable to fling around a massive fuel hose?

        Not to mention what those NASCAR guys do, carrying a giant jug and often spilling it everywhere.

        Pretty sure that if the battery is safe to be inside the car at all, it's safe enough to be replaced in the pits. Why they haven't gone with this strategy I don't really know... they claim it's for safety but I've never seen any elaboration on that p

        • by Shinobi (19308)

          A hot lithium-polymer battery of that size and capacity is more dangerous than petrol, yes. Petrol is easy to extinguish, the hose or the jugs don't tend to become shrapnel. While in the car, the battery is protected in an enclosure to prevent puncture. The fire drills with the Formula E cars has been incredibly extensive, including focusing on getting the driver the hell away from any fire.

          Seriously, extinguishing Lithium-polymer batteries is a pain in the ass to extinguish, the firefighters are not lookin

    • by swillden (191260)

      There's no point, because battery swapping is a silly way for achieving long ranges for electric vehicles. To make it really practical you need to make the batteries smaller, lighter and more accessible (== less well-protected) than they could be. Smaller and lighter means less range and more swapping required. Plus there are all sorts of practical and economic issues with swapping. It's much better just to have a semi-permanent battery which is large enough to take you a reasonable distance, plus sufficie

      • by timothy (36799) Works for Slashdot

        Yep -- 500 miles / 1 hour recharge would be a pretty magical combination; that would drastically change my view of electric cars. I'm in Austin (Texas, not Minnesota) and generally take a few long road trips each year, and lots of smaller ones. The donut hole effect (low population density in most of this giant state, despite several monstrous cities) means I could drive an all electric car happily *most* of the time, but on the whole it doesn't yet balance out to be worth it considering the other times. (D

        • Errr, that's "cultural norms." Cultural normals sounds kind of cool, though, I think I'll keep that one around ...

        • by swillden (191260)

          Another option, if it's really only a handful of long trips per year, is to rent a car.

          I actually did that several times last year. My commuter is a Nissan LEAF, which obviously doesn't have the range for long trips, and my other vehicle is a Dodge Durango, great for trips of any length, except that it gets about 17 mpg at 80 mph. I drove round trip from the Denver area to the Salt Lake area several times and found it cost-effective and very pleasant to rent a Prius. The savings on fuel more than covered

  • Ugh. Noise. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TechyImmigrant (175943) on Wednesday September 03, 2014 @06:21PM (#47821091) Journal

    I used to work in an F1 team.
    The thing I hated most was the noise.

    There is no downside to Formula E racing. It's quieter. There isn't liquid fuel sloshing around. The races are shorter.

    Let's just drop F1 and move over to Formula E. I might even consider going back if that happens.

  • If we want noise we go watch NHRA and 163dB of pure pain...

    Nothing quite like the sound of a 2300lb vehicle using a 7000hp engine that requires 600hp alone to drive it's supercharger...

  • So when are we going to see driverless F1 cars?

It is better to give than to lend, and it costs about the same.

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