The 2018-19 season began in December with the Ad Diriyah ePrix in Saudi Arabia, and has continued around the globe with circuits in Hong Kong, Rome and Mexico City.
On July 13 and 14, the last two races, located at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal at Red Hook, will determine the champion.
“This is a unique motorsports event, especially for New York City,” said Mike Hopper, advisor to Formula E. “These are open-wheeled cars similar to IndyCars and Formula 1, but Formula E is an all-electric racing series that races in cities all over the world, with Brooklyn being the only stop in the United States.”
For those unfamiliar with Formula E, the series is more than just a high-speed race. It’s also a testing ground for car engineers to explore the capabilities of electric vehicles.
Since its 2014 Beijing start, Formula E –– the E for electric –– has sported 100 percent electric race cars.
“One of the original reasons Formula E was founded was to make electric cars cool,” Hopper said. “So we all don’t think of a Prius.”
Large-name car manufacturers like Audi and Jaguar represent some of the teams racing in Formula E. Each year, they test new racing vehicles with variables like electric-powered generation, battery capacity, regeneration, and braking.
These companies, Hopper said, are “taking those learnings and applying it to the road vehicles that consumers are buying.”
For instance, the new Audi e-tron and the Jaguar I-PACE feature electric technology based off the findings from the cars they showcased in past years’ Formula E races.
“To open people’s eyes up to the capabilities of electric vehicles was one of the first things [we wanted to do],” Hopper said. “And now the next step in that is taking the learnings from the series and applying it to our everyday drivers.”
This year marks the debut of the Gen2 vehicles, which have more power and speed than the previous Gen1 vehicles. With Gen1, cars could not finish the entire race on a single charge and had to be swapped mid-race. This is no longer the case with the Gen2.
The cars have a top speed of 175 mph and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds.
On Saturday and Sunday, there will be 22 cars on the track at the same time, representing 11 different teams, like BMW, Mercedes and independent electric vehicle makers.
Aside from the obvious environmental benefits, another advantage of the Gen2 cars is that they make very little noise.
“You don’t have to worry about the kids having to put on the big ear muffs to be able to enjoy the event,” Hopper said.
Formula E races are unique in that they allow electric vehicles to fly past spectators –– not in a large stadium, but on the city streets. A 1.47 mile track has been specially-built for the race, with the Gen2’s having to navigate around 14 quick turns.
Races are timed instead of laps, and they begin each day at 4 p.m. Each championship race lasts 45 minutes plus one lap. Whoever is winning in that last minute will be crowned the Season 5 Formula E champion.
This will be the third year of Formula E races in Brooklyn, and it was an obvious pick for the race organizers.
“A couple of years ago, when we started to look for locations in the United States, the number one city to be in is New York City, of course,” Hopper said. “So when you locate different areas that you potentially build a mile-and-a-half track on, your options in New York City get very small.”
Fortunately for the organizers, they found a place in Red Hook at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal that’s “ideal for racing” due to its ample flat space and parking lots ready for conversion to a racetrack.
“Not to mention this neighborhood and Brooklyn in general has a great kind of inventive, manufacturing history to it that really aligns well to Formula E and the idea of building this series from the ground up,” Hopper said.
He added that the drivers have an international diversity and “represent nearly every country,” from Argentina to China.
“And that matches well to the diversity of the borough,” he said.
Off the track, there will be a full, interactive Allianz E-Village with a new setup. That will be the area where viewers can see their sponsor activation, Hopper said.
There will be food trucks, gaming zones with virtual racing on the track and face painting for the youngest ones. Plus, there is an indoor portion with air conditioning for the hot July afternoons.
“This is the best in new technology,” Hopper said. “So you’re going to see the latest, not only in cars, but you’re going to learn about the advances made in electric technology.
“It’s also everything you would want in a street fair,” he added. “You also get to experience an international motorsports event like we’ve never seen in New York City before.”
Throughout the day there will be a Jaguar I-PACE series in addition to the main Formula E championship, live music and world class motorsports.
Grandstand tickets have sold out, but there are $12 tickets still available for the E-Village –– with shaded, standing room views of the track –– and pricier, luxury lounges with all the food and drink a racing fan could want.
Hopper encouraged all people, whether racing aficionados or families to enjoy an exciting day with Formula E in Red Hook.
“The champion will be crowned in Brooklyn, and anybody that’s interested in seeing a championship being brought to Brooklyn before the Nets do it should come on down this weekend,” he said.