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Maserati – An Exciting Addition To Formula E Racing

Nicolas Prost leads the Formula e race in Beijing. [Photo by FIA-Formula e]

[Photo by FIA-Formula e]

Turk’s Tracks
A Few Loose Lug Nuts from Pit Row

By Gene Turk

Last year, I wrote an article about the increased interest in Formula E racing by some major racing teams, specifically Porsche and Mercedes. It now looks like Maserati has shown interest in joining the Formula E racing series in season 5. Presently, the current season four manufacturers include Audi, Citroen, Jaguar, Nissan, Renault, and BMW. The United States has two teams that are well represented with two cars each by Penske and Andretti. Season 4 was off to good start and season 5 will have some very interesting changes coming.

Season 4 got off to a start on December 2nd, 2017 with a double header in Honk Kong, China. The season will include 12 races with the final race being in New York City on July 15th, 2018. This year’s schedule has been expanded with new races added in Santiago, Rome, and Zurich. Uruguay will also sponsor the Punta del Este. At the end of the season, two champions will be crowed. One for the driver with the most points, the other for the team whose two drivers accumulate the most points combined. The drivers can win points in three ways. The pole sitter will receive 3 points. The driver who records the fastest lap during the race will receive one extra point, providing that he finishes in the top 10 places. The points for the race are as such. 1st -25 pts. 2nd -18 pts. 3rd -15 pts. 4th -12 pts. 5th -10 pts. 6th -8 pts. 7th -6 pts. 8th -4 pts. 9th -2 pts. 10th -1 pt. As you can see, the point breakdown is favored to winning. As example, if the second placed car is also the pole sitter and turns the fastest lap, he would obtain a maximum of 18+3+1= 22 points compared to 25 for the winner.

Some of the biggest news for this year is that FOX Sports will now broadcast the races on their FS1 channel. They have brought in some well know commentators to call the race. They include Ralph Sheheen, Brian Till, and Steve Matchett. If you saw the race from Rome in early April, you would have seen Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti interviewing the winner of the race. Now, a spokesperson for the series claims an increase of 8% in ticket sales. With Fox Sports now involved, I can’t help but think that viewership will also be on the increase.

If you have a chance to watch a race on the TV, you will see something rather unique on the screen as the race graphics are displayed. During the race, Fox will show the position, car number, driver’s name and seconds behind the leader. As the race progresses, you will see the percentage of battery charge remaining on the right side of the display. During the Rome race, the lead Jaguar seemed to have the win in hand with four laps left. His battery charge showed 12%. Only a few turns from the finish line, he ran out of electrons and fell back to 9th place as he coasted across the finish line. This is kind of ironic-just like an Indy 500 car running out of gas on lap 199 going through turn 3.

Season 5 will have some big changes coming. First off, there will be an all new car design. The chassis will be designed by Sport Racing Technologies and will be called SRTO5e. The car will be a major departure from the present design. The present car has a very narrow body with small sub-wings along the cockpit side along with a rear wing. The new design will not have a rear wing. Instead, it will have side pods that will direct the air over the back end. The nose is very pointed and the front wheels will have an aero package that covers the front and back of the tire.

The other big news for next year is that the battery size will increase from 200 KW to 250 KW. This will increase the motors output from 270 BHP to 330 BHP. This will not only allow for higher speeds, but will allow the car to the finish the race on one charge instead of having to change cars half way through the race as is currently needed. Presently, the drivers do need to be aware of the batteries charge remaining in the closing laps. However, the cars do have electronics on board that will change the motor to a generator when the driver backs off the throttle, thus increasing the car’s range.

Formula E racing is somewhat different than races using gasoline powered engines. The race is approached a little different in that power is limited to only 110KW during a “shakedown” session. Here the driver runs at reduced speed to check out the electronics and the car’s reliability. Here is when the software engineers can check everything out. Then practice will start with the full 200 KW of power. The driver can now adapt to the track and car’s setup and make any changes that may be needed prior to the race.

If you are enjoying watching Formula E racing this season, just wait until next year. More manufacturers are entering the series, new teams, new drivers and an all-new car. There doesn’t seem to be any lack of excitement for this newer series.

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Gene Turk was born with racing in his blood. At age 8 he started racing Quarter Midgets as member of the Great Milwaukee Quarter Midget club. For five years he raced the #7 car that his father built. He then graduated from the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) with a degree in Industrial Engineering and Internal Combustion Engineering.

While in college he obtained his Private Pilot’s License.

Along the way he has attended numerous Indy car and stock car races at the Milwaukee Mile during the 60s, 70sand 80s along with area Midget car races. He would also frequently fly to the Brickyard to watch the Indy 500 time trials in the 60s and 70s and more recently attended the 2014 Indy 500.

He has also attended numerous sports car and NASCAR races at Elkhart Lake Road America. Finally, Gene has owned many classic cars including his present 1990 Corvette and is a self-described “Gear Head.”