The first ever all-electric Formula E race happened in Beijing over the weekend, and despite the mostly silent competition, there was one particular racing incident that was more exciting than anything Formula 1 has shown in a while.
Duking it out for the lead in the final stages of the Beijing ‘ePrix’, pole position starter Nicholas Prost (the son of four-time Formula 1 driver’s champion Alain Prost) made a move to defend his spot from Germany’s Nick Heidfeld (himself a former Renault driver in the 2011 Formula 1 championship), with disastrous results for them both.
Leading into the final 90-degree corner, a (pretty deliberate looking, if you ask me) wheel to wheel swerve from Prost on Heidfeld damaged Heidfeld’s front right wheel, sending it into an uncontrolled slide into a kerb, launching it into the air and rolling it directly into a crash barrier at high speed. It looks like it hurt:
Heidfeld is thankfully OK, and Prost was taken out by the maneuver as well, with Audi Sport driver Lucas di Grassi taking the win. After the crash, Heidfeld quite understandably had a few angry words to say, clambering out from his upside-down Venturi electric racer and running over to Prost for an animated discussion.
Formula E has a few nifty tricks up its sleeve — although, depending on how pure you like your racing, you might see them as gimmicks. FanBoost, for example, is a social media-powered power boost, where voting winners get a five second bump in their cars’ electric power output, getting a 20 per cent increase in potential from 150kW to 180kW. Drivers, though, have to keep their power consumption figures lower than 28kW for the race, necessitating a light foot in some areas — and it was this rule that actually saw third-place winner Daniel Abt stripped of his spot in the first ever results table.
When you don’t have even the muted burble of this year’s turbo six-cylinder Formula 1 engines to spice things up, let along a proper racing car roar, I guess you have to resort to the occasional dash of wheel-to-wheel contact to keep things interesting. [FIA Formula E]