Rome E-Prix: everything you need to know
The ancient streets of Rome will welcome the world’s fastest electric cars as the FIA Formula E Championship debuts in the city later this year. The inaugural Rome E-Prix will zoom into town on Sunday, April 14 with huge crowds expected to witness the high-powered machines. Formula E remains a new concept in the world of motorsport but it has attracted big money sponsors and some of the hottest racing talent on the planet since its inception in 2014. Here’s what to expect when the race comes to the Eternal City…
What is Formula E?
Formula E is a class of motorsport only using electric-powered cars. The Championship is now into its fourth season, having started in Beijing in 2014. Races all take place on temporary city-centre circuits, encapsulating some of the most impressive sites in the world – not least in Rome.
The cars have a limited maximum power set to 180 kilowatts. The scoring system is akin to Formula One, but the driver with the fastest lap recieves an additional bonus point.
What will make Rome special?
Not just the ancient setting, but the course has been designed to test the drivers’ skills to the maximum. At 2.85km, the track will be the second longest in the Formula E series and presents 21 turns in total for the drivers.
Where will the track be?
The track will be situated on the southern outskirts of the city.
The start/finish line will be positioned on Via Cristoforo Colombo with the drivers weaving past Rome Convention Centre, La Nuvola before the track splits for the pit lane around the Palazzo dei Congressi. The drivers will then make their way around the Obelisco di Marconi with the picturesque backdrop of the Colosseo Quadrato.
How will the racing progress?
There will be ample time to catch a glimpse of the cars in the city centre with two practice sessions in the morning before the hour-long qualifying at noon. Qualifying has a different look to that of traditional racing. Drivers are divided into four groups of five and given six minutes to clock their best time. The top five fastest drivers then race off in a Super Pole shoot-out to determine the make-up of the grid. The race itself will last for approximately 50 minutes. Drivers are forced to make one mandatory pit stop during the race to change into a second charged-up electric car.
Who are the drivers and teams?
There are 10 teams signed up for the 2017/18 calendar, each with two cars on the grid. Several established names in the world of racing have joined the Formula E championship in recent years including former Formula One drivers Nick Heidfeld, Nelson Piquet jnr and Sebastien Buemi.
Italian interest will centre around Luca Fillipi, who will be driving in the series for a first time with the NIO Formula E Team. Fillipi is a former Indy Car driver, who featured in Formula One for Minardi in 2005. Fillipi has yet to make an impression on the 2017/18 championship, scoring a solitary point in the opening race in Hong Kong.
Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Lucas di Grassi won last year’s driver’s championship and is defending his crown for the same team. However, the Brazilian has struggled in the early races, retiring in his last twice two races.
Sweden’s Felix Rosenqvist has won two of the four races so far in the Championship for the Indian team Mahindra Racing however Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne currently leads the standings after winning in Santiago.
Other teams include Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, DS Virgin Racing and Panasonic Jaguar Racing, who signed the inaugural driver’s championship winner Piquet jnr prior to this championship.
What has been said?
During a pre-test of the event, Formula E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag said:: “I’m excited to be here today to present the first-ever E-Prix in Rome. Seeing and hearing the Formula E cars on the streets of a place like Rome, for me, will be a truly unforgettable experience.”
Where can I buy tickets?
The first phase of sales saw tickets quickly snapped up by motorsport enthusiasts but event organisers plan to add more tickets once additional seating has been installed. Currently, four grandstands have been designed around the track. You can register interest in the event and be first to find out when tickets are released at tickets.fiaformulae.com.
How can you watch it?
If the noise of motorsport is not your thing, you can watch every race in the Championship on free-to-air TV courtesy of Mediaset’s Italia 1 and 2 channels.