The world’s first single-seat electric car race championship series went off in Beijing with a bang. The Formula One-style race finished with the No. 3 car racing to victory past the leaders after they collided in a spectacular last-minute crash that sent one of the cars spinning out of control but left the driver of that vehicle more disappointed than scathed.
Organizers at the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, or FIA, in Paris, which licenses and arbitrates Formula One and other global motor sports rallies, couldn’t have expected a more exciting outcome for the Formula E debut.
On Saturday in Beijing, Nico Prost for France’s E.Dams Renault was in the lead in the final moments of the race when he failed to notice Nick Heidfeld from Monte Carlo’s Venturi Formula E team passing on the left. The two cars collided, knocking Heidfeld into a barrier that sent the car spinning into the air. Prost stopped and Audi Sport’s Lucas Di Grassi sped past to victory. Here’s the video of the crash:
After the race Nico Prost admitted he failed to check his left side before drifting. “I just did not see him, feel very bad,” he said on Twitter following the race. Heidfeld replied, “Could/would/should have won that. Now nothing.” Despite the curt remark, the two drivers said there’s no animosity between them. Accidents happen, especially at a sustained 137 miles per hour.
The FIA is betting electric race cars will become more popular as battery technology improves because electric cars accelerate far more quickly than race cars with standard, internal-combustion engines. Current car-battery tech prevents sustained high-speed driving, so the Formula E teams are using two cars in each race of the series, which ends June 27 in London. The competition includes qualifying laps, followed by a 2 hour break to re-charge the vehicles before the final race with one pit stop to swap cars. The next round of the FIA Formula E Championship is scheduled for Nov. 22 in Putrajaya, Malaysia. The 10 two-driver teams will then head to the Americas, facing off Dec. 13 in Punta de Este, Uruguay.
On Sunday Heidfeld posted on Twitter a photo of the new chassis to replace the one that went flying Saturday.
â€” Nick Heidfeld (@NickHeidfeld) September 14, 2014