Formula E wraps up season with Red Hook race
by Salvatore Isola
Jul 24, 2019 | 7143 views | 0 0 comments | 627 627 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Formula E wrapped up its fifth season at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook. Jean-Éric Vergne of DS Techeetah became the first person in the short history of the sport to win back-to-back championships.

While he finished Sunday’s final race in seventh, his cumulative points from all 13 races this season gave him a total of 136. Sébastien Buemi of the Nissan e.dams team finished second with 119 points.

Buemi won Saturday’s race, and Robin Frijns of the Envision Virgin Racing team won on Sunday.

Drivers raced at top speeds of 175 mph and navigated 14 tight turns, all while watching battery levels.

On Sunday’s final lap, drivers Evans and Di Grassi collided after one’s battery hit zero, allowing Vergne to slip into seventh place.

“I think the event showed how electric vehicles can perform equally as well as, if not better, than gasoline-fueled vehicles,” said fan Bill Ryan.

Before the race, German driver Pascal Wehrlein of the Indian Mahindra Racing team discussed Formula E, racing culture, and the driver experience.

In 2015 at the age of 20, he became the youngest champion in the history of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters racing touring cars, and raced for two years in Formula 1. This was his first season in Formula E, which saw him finish in 12th place.

“It’s my first season in Formula E, and also the first time I’m driving a full electric car,” Wehrlein, 24, said. “The biggest difference is the sound, there is no sound, and the second thing is gears. In electric cars, there is just one gear forward and one gear backwards.”

The lack of gears changes Wehrlein’s approach to turning, because in gas-powered cars he knows what gear will turn the vehicle at a certain speed. With one gear, he said he had to learn “a new feeling of the speed.”

“I think the biggest challenge at the moment are the tracks, because every track is new for me,” Wehrlein said of the races that took place in cities across the world. “We don’t have a lot of practice before the race, so I have to learn as quick as possible.”

Wehrlein also had to learn aspects of Formula E racing that are exclusive to the sport, such as “Attack Mode” and “Fanboost.”

Attack Mode is a sensor on the track that cars drive over to gain extra power for four minutes.

“It’s a bit like Mario Kart,” Wehrlein said.

Fanboost allows fans to vote for their favorite driver online, and during the race the top five drivers with the most votes will receive a 35-horsepower boost lasting a few seconds.

“I got a Fanboost in two or three races, but I crashed before I could activate it,” he said. “I always say to the fans, ‘don’t vote for me, otherwise I’ll crash before.’”

One memorable moment from Wehrlein’s first Formula E season occurred in Mexico City.

“I was leading the race and going into the last corner,” he recalled. “I ran out of energy and I rolled over the line. Instead of first, I finished second.”

Cars run out of energy “quite often,” Wehrlein said.

“Because we cannot drive at 100 percent the whole time, we have to save energy in a few laps to be able to finish the full race,” he said.

But Formula E is not just a race, it is also a testing ground for new electric technologies with zero emissions

“I think the best technology we have in the cars is to regenerate the brake energy back into the battery,” Wehrlein said. “And that’s something you can obviously use for road cars.”
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