Sustainable, efficient and innovative. Since the Formula E was launched in 2014 as the racing world’s first all-electric series, races with fully electric vehicles have been enjoying ever greater popularity worldwide. Take Berlin as an example. When the tenth race of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship season is held here on May 25, tens of thousands of spectators are expected to gather over the entire E-Prix weekend at a historic location in the southern part of the city, namely the former Tempelhof Airport, which stopped operations in 2008.
Berlin as a Race Location
Since the launch of the electric racing series five years ago, Berlin has hosted a race every season and is the only E-Prix in Germany. The initial contest in May of 2015 was the capital’s first car race since the AVUS course in the southwest of the city was closed in 1998. The former Tempelhof Airfield has served as a race location four times. Berlin-Tempelhof was one of the first commercial airports in Germany, starting regular service back in 1923. Before it closed on October 30, 2008, it was one of three international airports in the metropolitan area of Berlin and was known as the Central Airport. Just once – in the 2015/2016 season – the Berlin Senate had to relocate the Formula E to Karl-Marx-Allee in the district of Mitte so that airport’s old hangars could be used as emergency housing for more than 5,000 refugees.
In front of the old hangars and right next to the Tempelhof field, the drivers in this year’s Berlin E-Prix will have to navigate a 2.375-kilometer circuit with 10 curves per lap. The race will last 45 minutes plus one additional lap. The contest in Berlin will mark the first time in the history of the Formula E that a single event will be stretched over two days. Two practice sessions will be held on Friday (May 24, 2019), and qualifying sessions and the race itself on Saturday (May 25, 2019). Normally all racing events take place on a single day.
On every race day, there are two practice sessions, during which the full 250 kW of power may be used for a limited number of laps. Berlin is the exception here. For the first time in the history of the Formula E, a single event will be held over two days, with the two practice sessions on Friday (May 24, 2019) and the qualifying sessions and the race itself on Saturday (May 25, 2019).
The 22 drivers are divided into four groups based on their current standings, and the group with the top five drivers always begins. Each group has six minutes to post the fastest possible time. Following an initial out-lap from the pit lane and a maximum of one warm-up lap at 200 kW/272 hp, a single flying lap may be driven at the full 250 kW/340 hp. The six fastest drivers, regardless of which group they were in, take part in the Super Pole shoot-out in which each drives another timed lap at full power (250 kW/340 hp). The starting line-up is determined by the lap times from the Super Pole (places 1–6) and the group stage (places 7–22).
The race itself – called the E-Prix – has a standing start (no warm-up lap). The drivers first line up a few meters behind the actual starting grid, and then drive into position. The race lasts 45 minutes plus one additional lap. The maximum power in race mode is 200 kW/272 hp.
The activation zone is an important part of the circuit. By going through it, drivers can boost their power for a brief time to 225 kW/306 hp. The number and duration of these attack-mode boosts are determined by the FIA for each individual race and announced shortly before the start.
Formula E fans have the chance to give their favorite drivers a boost during the races. From six days before the race to 15 minutes into it, they can submit votes via Twitter, the official Formula E website, or the Formula E app. The five drivers with the most votes receive a FanBoost, which can be activated starting in the 22nd minute of the race to raise their power briefly up to 250 kW/340 hp.
The top ten finishers of each race receive the following points in accordance with the FIA’s official system:
1st place: 25 points
2nd place: 18 points
3rd place: 15 points
4th place: 12 points
5th place: 10 points
6th place: 8 points
7th place: 6 points
8th place: 4 points
9th place: 2 points
10th place: 1 point
The driver with the fastest lap time receives an additional point if he is one of the top ten finishers and did not use a FanBoost during that lap.
The Formula E has a drivers’ title and a team title. The drivers add up their points from the individual races. The final point tallies of the two drivers on each team are combined to generate the total for that team.
Michelin, the official tire supplier, provides each driver with two sets of new front and rear tires per racing day. The tires are treaded.
The season’s races
The 2018/2019 season has a total of 13 races in 12 cities. The races are held in Ad Diriyah (Saudi Arabia), Marrakesh (Morocco), Santiago de Chile (Chile), Mexico City (Mexico), Hong Kong (Hong Kong), Sanya (China), Rome (Italy), Paris (France), Monaco (Monaco), Berlin (Germany), Bern (Switzerland) and New York (USA).
Germany’s Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler is the Formula E’s Most Successful Team
In the thick of the action will be the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team. With drivers Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi and the rest of the racing crew, the Volkswagen Group is entering what is currently the most successful team in the Formula E’s international starting field. Of the 54 races held thus far, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler has stood on the winners’ platform 39 times, which is more than any other team. It is also the first to break the 1,000-point mark, with a current total of 1,027. In the third season (2016/2017) Lucas di Grassi won the Formula E drivers’ title for the first time, following third and second-place finishes in the preceding years. In the fourth season (2017/2018) Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler won the team title. Audi was also the first German carmaker to enter its own factory team in the Formula E.
The Audi team from the Volkswagen Group expects to continue its success story in Berlin at the tenth race of the season and the 55th race in Formula E history. And the drivers are looking forward to the home contest in Germany. Not only because Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi achieved 1st place, 2nd place, the pole position, and the fastest lap time at this historic site in 2018; there have been only five racing weekends in Formula E history when the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team went empty-handed. In Berlin, Abt and di Grassi have stood on the winners’ platform a total of five times.
Home Game in Germany at the Berlin E-Prix
For Daniel Abt (26), the race on the home circuit is therefore something very special. “For me Berlin is like a championship game in the Bundesliga. The race has a very special meaning and its very own rules. I simply feel at home in the city and in Tempelhof, and the support from the fans gives me a boost even before we go out onto the course. All the positive energy from last year is still there. Of course we’ll be starting from square one again on Friday, but despite that, we know how to win trophies and races in Berlin.”
The Audi e-tron FE05 Spearheads Audi’s E-Car Campaign
The Audi e-tron is also a major part of the winning formula. After the team won the championship in the 2017/2018 season with the Audi e-tron FE04 – the brand’s first fully electric race car – the Volkswagen Group responded to changes in the Formula E regulations with the world premiere of the new generation of the Audi e-tron FE05 in September of 2018. For the first time since the series began in 2014, there is only one car per driver for the new 2018/2019 season. That eliminates the obligatory car switch during the race, because the battery can now last the entire 45-minute duration of the contest.
One of the biggest highlights of the Audi e-tron FE05 is its drivetrain. This is the only part of Formula E cars that is allowed to be modified. Otherwise, the teams all have to use a uniform chassis. The batteries, tires, and brakes are also the same for all the teams and manufacturers. A complete overhaul of 95 percent of the drivetrain’s components – motor, transmission, suspension parts, and the corresponding software – has not only reduced the weight of the Audi e-tron FE05’s drivetrain by 10 percent compared to that of its predecessor. The new generation of the car also no longer has a rear wing, which gives it a very futuristic look.
The Volkswagen Group and Its Brands are Banking on E-Mobility
Audi launched its worldwide electrification campaign in September 2018 with the introduction of the new Audi e-tron. By 2025 the brand expects to bring twelve cars with all-electric drives onto the world’s most important markets. Audi is thereby resolutely following the e-mobility strategy of the Volkswagen Group. With its e-campaign the Group is making a major investment in the future of mobility. By the end of 2022 it expects to invest more than 34 billion euros into the future-oriented fields of e-mobility, autonomous driving, digital connectivity and new mobility services. By 2025 the Group wants to be building and selling as many as three million all-electric cars a year. It aims to put more than 80 new electrified models on the market, including 50 fully electric vehicles.