Formula E

ePrix Preview: London Calling

The last Formula E race weekend of the season is fast approaching. The closing stage brings the world's most innovative racing series to London. With a population of 8.5 million, the UK capital is not only the largest city in Europe but also one of the most vibrant and modern metropolises in the world.

London is a trendsetter, and not only in fashion but also in terms of sustainability. This is borne out by the IESE Cities in Motion Index which ranks major cities for sustainability according to ten parameters. Just like last year, London is ranked as the 2016 runner-up, behind New York and ahead of Paris.

British innovations in Formula E
It is no surprise that Formula E has chosen the city on the Thames as one of its headquarters. Over the past two seasons, the fully electric racing series has proven that sustainability has an important place in motorsport. Races are staged in the city center to allow as many people to watch and to restrict demands made on the local transport system to a minimum. "We want to bring the race to the people, and not the other way round," says Formula E Press Officer Sam Mallinson, explaining the sustainability concept behind this approach. Furthermore, when official logistics partner DHL organizes the transport of the Formula E cars by train, truck or ship, this is always done with sustainability as a priority.

Another important innovation is the Formula E equivalent to "gasoline". On race weekends, all the car batteries are recharged emission free. Aquafuel, a British company, operates a number of glycerin-powered generators in the paddock. This glycerin, known as Aquafuel, is non-toxic, odorless and water-soluble. "Sustainability lies at the heart of the FIA Formula E Championship, so being able to charge all the cars safely and efficiently in one hour, and without creating additional CO2 emissions, is very important to us," explains Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag. "This method also means we are not impacting on the city's own power supply or needs."

However, power is needed not only for the racing cars but also for the fan packed eVillage. The sustainable solution in this case is solar energy. For the season finale, the entire eVillage will be powered by renewable energy produced through a solar photovoltaic (PV) panel system combined with storage and glycerin bio-fuel solutions. Responsibility for this is handled by another British company and one of the leading solar energy providers in Europe, Light Source:"This is the new world of electricity supply, where choice and control is at the forefront for consumers large and small," says Nick Boyle, CEO for Lightsource. "By powering the entire eVillage, we are hoping to demonstrate that renewable energy is definitely a reliable and credible source of power."

The decider: Who will be Formula E champion?
Once again, the venue for the last two races of the season is Battersea Park. On the weekend of 2nd/3rd July, this 2.9-kilometer circuit will be where the title is won and lost. Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport driver Lucas Di Grassi goes into the London ePrix with a slender one-point advantage over closest challenger Sebastien Buemi of Team Renault e.Dams.

"We've had eight races and the points gap is almost back to zero, and now we go to a track that is the most different from all the other tracks," says Di Grassi. "It's technically very difficult to drive there and it's the second longest track of the season. The weather unpredictability in London could play a big role, because qualifying is divided into groups, which are random, and as happened last year, if you pick a group during which there is rain - that could define the race."

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