Monday, September 8, 2014

Electricity continues buzzing in F1 Paddock and Beyond as Formula E begins racing...

YIKES! Hard to believe that I've been sitting upon this topic since 'Twenty-eleven when the news was first divulged regarding the FIA's newest racing series known as Formula E, which is set to debut this coming weekend in Beijing, China, where ten two-car teams will face off against each other for the glory of being the inaugural Formula E winner...

Thus, it seems like a long time ago indeed when noted F1 Journo' James Allen was cranking out bits 'N bobs over the new series in;

While the widely respected former French  Formula 1Aerodynamicist Jean-Claude Migeot, best known for his work on the radical Tyrrell 019 raised nose F1 chassis, along with the unsuccessful Ferrari F92A "Twin Floor" racecar, made his thoughts upon what ultimately has become  Formula E in;

And I've since then found this story upon the Sparks derived Formula E chassis;

New FormulaE Spark-Renault SRT 01ERacing Car revealed

Below alphabetically is the ten teams plus drivers contesting the inaugural 2014-15 Formula E series championship, with six countries represented by a wealth of Open Wheel talent, as I'll try to give my (somewhat) brief, somewhat non-biased opinions upon each of the teams plus drivers slated to take the green flag at Beijing on September 13th...

Surely the name Aguri Suzuki is familiar to Y'all, after all being first a "Journeyman" F1 driver making 88-starts with his best finish being third at the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix. Then turning his attention towards being a Team Boss, first in the Indy Racing League with 'Yo Adrian! (Fernandez) and lastly as the man behind "Super Best Friends," nee Super Aguri in Formula 1, as Amlin-Aguri became the first Formula E team to sign a female driver...

Antonio Felix da Costa; Portugal
This relatively young Portuguese racing driver first came to prominence upon winning the 2009 Formula Renault 2.0 NEC (North European Cup) championship for Carlin Motorsport before making a true name for himself by winning the prestigious Macau Grand Prix in 2012, also for Carlin, their first victory since  Takuma Sato's win in 2001.

Da Costa then became a Red Bull Junior Academy driver, replacing the uncompetitive  Lewis Williamson, quickly storming to four wins in the final five races of the 'Twenty-twelve Formula Renault 3.5 (World Series by Renault) championship, with another hopeful Formula 1 aspirant named Robin Frijns winning the title, with Da Costa finishing fourth overall.

Thus Da Costa and Frijns seemed  destined for F1 stardom, with both taking part in the F1 Young Drivers test at Abu Dhabi for the 'BIG BULLS, (Red Bull Racing) with Da Costa widely tipped to debut at Scuderia Toro Rosso this season, before then Russian teenager Daniil Kvyat instead took the vacated Daniel Ricciardo seat.

Thus, Antonio was given a dubious lifeline by being named a Red Bull "Simulator Jockey" (Test/Reserve Driver) this year alongside another spat-out Red Bull driver, Sebastien Buemi, as ironically both Red Bull talents  will try to show their wares in the newly formed all electric series beginning this fall by hopefully becoming the series inaugural champion.

Katherine Legge; UK
"Thy Leggy 'Juan" burst onto the Open Wheel Racing scene 'Wayback in 'Twenty-oh-Six as Champ Car's answer to Queen Danica, (Patrick) racing for two seasons before joining the DTM series before making her single seater return at Dragon Racing's IndyCar operation in 2012 where she earned her rookie stripes and contested that year's Indy 500 before team owner Jay Penske gave her a nasty Valentine's Day surprise the following year. As Legge's since gone onto co-pilot the revolutionary Delta Wing chassis in ALMS competition and now comes full circle once again with her Formula E debut this September...

Ex-CART championship driver and son of the 'legendous 1969 Indy 500 winner Mario, Mikey' Andretti's simply got his hands on all things motorsports these days, with his championship winning IndyCar team, which includes this year's Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay. Mikey's also a promoter, with his company Andretti Sports Marketing running the famed Milwaukee Mile event along with the just announced Grand Prix of Louisiana IndyCar race in 2015. Andretti also  runs an Indy Lights and Global Rallycross team and  will be the promoter of the Formula E Miami race...

Franck Montagny; France
Frank "The Tank" Montagny briefly raced in Formula 1 for "Super Best Friends" (Super Aguri) after the FIA denied Yuji Ide further inclusion, nee mandatory Superlicense in F1 for seven races before being replaced by another Japanese driver, Sakon Yamamoto in 2006.

Montagny has since gone onto racing Sports Cars at Circuit de la Sarthe, most  notably becoming a factory "Works" (Sports Car)  Ace for the since disbanded Peugeot team which quit racing in 2012.

Montagny has also made a few unheralded  starts Stateside in Indy Cars for Andretti Autosport, and hopes to bring further success to boss Michael this season...


Was totally unawares' of this operation's involvement in Formula E, or the fact that Abt is the "AMG" tuning haus of Audi and VW brands, as surely Audi's inclusion gives some credence to the series...

Lucas di Grassi; Brazil
Having finished runner-up to 2007 GP2 champion Timo Glock, along with third place overall finishes in 2008-09 behind title winners Giorgio Pantano and Nico Hulkenberg, and runner-up's Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov respectively, di Grassi then made his debut for the brand new Virgin F1 team in 2010, contesting the entire season before disappearing from the Formula 1 landscape, and naturally, as a  current Audi Sport Team Joest "Works" driver  competing in the World Endurance Championship makes a perfect choice for Formula E.

Daniel Abt; Germany
Virtual unknown racer who's been plying his trade in the GP2 series since 2013, first with ART Grand Prix and then switching over to Hilmer Motorsport this season, having amassed some 40-starts in the premiere Formula 1 feeder series with largely uncompetitive results - hence, joining the family run Formula E team this season...

Know absolutely nothing about this team, albeit they've previously competed in A1 GP and the Superleaggue formula and most interestingly are operated by Campos Racing, as in Adrian Campos, the original founder of what became the short-lived Hispania F1 team...

Ho-Pin Tung; China
Pretty sure that Ho-Pin was the first Chinese driver to sample a Formula 1 racecar, when taking part  in some of the F1 Young Drivers tests, first for Williams, along with being named as a Test Reserve Driver with both BMW Sauber and Lotus-Renault GP, which eventually became the current Lotus F1 team.

Ho-Pin also attempted becoming China's first ever Indy 500 participant with Dragon Racing in 2011, yet crashed heavily during practice and was forced to sit out the race, of which neither of Dragon's other drivers Scott Speed or Patrick Carpentier qualified. As Tung subsequently made his IndyCar debut at Sonoma later that year and has since been contesting the GP2 series.

Nelson Piquet, Jr; Brazil
Not really sure what to say 'bout Nielsen Ho', other than he's the son of three-time world champion Nelson Sr. and has a storied single seater  career, most notably the driver who was instructed  to purposely crash in Singapore to help Renault F1 team leader Fernando Alonso win the race under Flavio Briatore's orders! Thus effectively ending his F1 career when reporting Flavour Flavs' instructions to the media.

Piquet Jr. then moved Stateside and raced as a PickemUp Trucks racer in 'RASSCAR and now drives for Andretti Autosport in the FIA's Global Rallycross series where he leads  the point standings. Yet, for Mwah, "Nelson Pickett" fell out of favour with me after his stupendous Gay slur gaff!

Another personality with a chequered'past is team owner Jay Penske, who essentially began his Open Wheel Racing ownership role by running what effectively  was a "Satellite 'B-Team" for his father 'el Capitano,  nee Roger Penske at Mother Speedway for Ryan Briscoe in 2007, before going thru various guises of his own "true" team ownership, which ultimately evolved into Dragon Racing

Unfortunately Jay seems to enjoy his celebratory lifestyle more than his racing team's success, having first garnered media Attenzione by 'Shagging the former Mrs. Melloncamp Elaine Irwin, and then his not so  smooth pissing affairs which included the contentious firing of driver Katherine Legge!

Ultra BAD ARSE 'Twisty Specialist  Mike Conway's autographed "Hero Card" obtained at this year's Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma. (The Tomaso Collection)
Mike Conway; UK
Have become a fan of Mike "Ice-Ice, Baby!" Conway's ever since his return to IndyCar racing as a Non Oval-track specialist beginning in 2013. As the Brit who's won series championships in the lower formulae's, including the 2006 British Formula 3 title for Raikkonen-Robertson Racing, plus victories in the prestigious Macau Grand Prix and GP2 series  switched to IndyCar racing initially in 2009, signing with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and suffered a horrendous fence climbing accident at Indianapolis in 2010.

Returning from back and leg injuries, Conway won his first IndyCar race for then Andretti Green Racing at Long Beach in 2011 and then moved to A.J. Foyt Enterprises the following year,  where ultimately he decided to not race at Fontana upon informing 'Ol 'SuperTex he no longer wished to race on Ovals, which I amongst many thought surely was the end of his IndyCar career.

Yet since then, Conway's supplemented his Sports Car racing  nicely while being a 'Twisty (Road/Street courses) Hired Gun, notching his second IndyCar victory for  the Minnowesqe Dale Coyne Racing team  at Detroit's Belle Isle in 2013 and then being inked as Ed Carpenter Racing's 'Twisty driver, which paid off handsomely with another win at Long Beach and  Toronto this season, along with almost scoring a third win this year  at Sonoma,  leading with 3-laps remaining before first being passed by eventual race winner Scott Dixon and then running  out of Ethanol on the final lap! Thus you'd have to be inclined that Conway should win at least one race this season  in Formula E.

Jerome d'Ambrosio; Belgium
Although I didn't see I-T, my most current memory of D'Ambrosio is his deputizing for Romain Grosjean at Renault; Err Lotus at the Italian Grand Prix after Grosjean's one-race ban for his racing shenanigans at the prior round at Spa-Francorchamps in 2012. While D'Ambrosio did contest the entire 2011 F1 season for Marussia Virgin Racing and then was subsequently part of Lotus's "Rat  Pack's Simulator Jockey's," while I tend to recall that he was also under Eric Boullier and Gravity Sport  Management's guidance...

Very successful championship winning F3000, GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5 team known simply as DAMS, which I never knew its name originally stood for its collaboration between founders Jean-Paul Driot and ex-Formula 1 driver Rene Arnoux, who's subsequently departed, while the new Formula E venture is a co-effort between Driot and four time F1 world champion Alain Prost...

Nicolas Prost; France
Naturally, with "Daddy" being part team-owner, the younger Nicolas was guaranteed inclusion in the squad, as all I know about Nicolas is that he's been racing Sports Cars awhile now at Rebellion Racing where I think one of his co-drivers was 'Quick Nick Heidfeld.

Sebastien Buemi; Switzerland
As belabored here, Sebastien is one of the countless drivers that the Red Bull Junior Academy "Machine" has chewed-up in its  continuous search for the next Seb' Vettel... As Buemi drove for the 'lil Bulls, nee Scuderia Toro Rosso for three-seasons (2009-11) before making way for then Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, having since become a Toyota "Works" driver in the WEC...

Another racing organization I knew nothing about until embarking on this long winding preview... As I was totally unawares' that Mahindra not only was the first Indian team to contest the FIM's then 125cc class, now known as Moto3, but; also the first Indian racing team to win an international championship. Taking the Italian national motorcycle racing's Constructors Cup in 2012-13 most impressively upon their own manufactured 'Scooter! As Mahindra & Mahindra, part of the Mahindra Group's umbrella of automotive related products, is one of India's largest producing automobile manufacturers, while supposedly their farm tractors rank number one worldwide...

Karun Chandhok; India
Not to be 'Cornfuzed with whom ex-HRT F1 Boss Dr. Colin Kolles nicknamed "The Speediest Indian," nee Narain Karthikeyan; Hya! Nope Karun Chandhok garnered the moniker "Cowboy" by then SPEED's Bob Varsha due to his Mum' living in Austin, Texas Me Thinks? As  Chandhok's Formula 1 career was brief, but then again what could you really expect from the underperforming Hispania's? As I'll always concur that even with suitcases 'O Moohlah, you've still got to have talent to become a Gran Primo Piloto! As perhaps Karun can finally show what he's made of in the all electric spec series, eh?

Bruno Senna; Brazil
The Sir-name says I-T all, as in Bruno's the nephew of the legendous' triple F1 world champion Ayrton... As Bruno did make his way to the  pinnacle 'O motorsports, nee Formula 1 briefly, ironically spending his  rookie season in 2010 at Hispania F1 alongside Indian rookie driver Karun Chandhok...

Next, Bruno replaced Nick Heidfeld at Renault beginning at the 2011 Belgian Grand Prix for the remainder of the season, scoring his debutant Formula 1 points at the following round at Monza. 

then in 2012,Senna most notably flew the Brazilian colours at Team 'Willy, nee Williams Grand Prix Engineering as Pastor Maldonado's team-mate, ironically when the team was powered by Renault, the very same condition his uncle last raced under before  Black Sunday at Imola, May 1st, 1994.

And before Y'all think Bruno simply rode his uncle's coat tails to F1, he did finish runner-up in GP2 to Giorgio Pantano in 2008, and definitely has talent,  scoring a career best sixth-place finish at the Malaysian GP in 2012 before being dropped by Sir Frank for somebody named Valtteri Bottas!

Hence,  Bruno's since been plying his trade in Sports Cars for the Aston Martin factory team in the World  Endurance Championship, while Formula E will surely benefit from having that bright yellow Senna trademark "crash-bucket" (helmet) on the grid during its inaugural season...

Will be interesting to  see how this outfit fairs  overall, being a relatively late entry upon having taken over the Dreyson Racing grid slot upon Lord Drayson's still unknown departure from the series...

Jarno Trulli; Italy
Really don't have a whole lot to say about thee "Trulli Scrumptious," other than he had a pretty star-crossed 'N chequeered Formula 1 career, really never living up to his potential with one solitary win for the dominant Renault F1 "Factory" team,  before soldiering along at Toyota and finally flaming out at what eventually became Caterham. As Trulli's always got his Vino' business to fall back on when he tires of Formula E.

Michela Cerruti; Italy
Know absolutely nothing 'bout  this Femme Fatale  racing driver other than becoming the first female to win an AutoGP race, and it'll be interesting to see if she can outperform her vastly experienced Boss?

This team is a collaborative venture between Venturi Automobiles owner Gildo Pallanca Pastor and 'Mega movie star Leonardo DiCaprio...

Nick Heidfeld; Germany
'Quick Nick never truly got his shot in Formula 1, as I first  became a fan of his 'Wayback in 'Twenty-oh-One when he was partnered by some precocious Finn' named Kimi! As in the true "Iceman," nee Kimi Raikkonen, who Heidfeld actually outperformed during their tenure at Sauber.

Yet whilst the 'Kimster went onto fame 'N fortune, first at McLaren and then becoming Ferrari's latest F1 world champion in 2007, Heidfeld struggled on in mediocrity before his Grand Prix career finally flamed out as "the Krakow Kid's" (Robert Kubica) replacement in that illustrious forward facing flame thrower Renault R31! As Heidfeld's since gone onto Tintop racing in Sports Cars and DTM, and probably looks forward to another fling in single seaters this year.

Stephane Sarrazin; France
Primarily a Sports Car 'Ace, most notably first for the factory Peugeot team before switching to Toyota "Works" status in the WEC, having finished as 24 Heurs du Mans runner-up three times, most recently in 2013.

Yet Sarrazin does have single seater experience, actually contesting one Grand Prix  for Minardi a zillion years ago, the 1999 Brazilian Grand Prix, along with extensive testing duties for both the Prost and Toyota Formula 1 teams, before carving  out a career in endurance racing...

Not to be 'Cornfuzed with the former Virgin Racing F1 team which ultimately morphed into Marussia Racing, Sir Richard Branson has apparently taken his "Piggybank" to  Formula E, presumably as partly a marketing ploy, i.e.; the ubiquitous GREENWASHING 'O Formula E's "Clean, Green Energy" banner, and also presumably, it's costing less than Formula 1!

Sam Bird; UK
Promising British GP2 racer  who never quite made the series top-step, albeit finishing a fine runner-up to 2013 GP2 series champion Fabio Leimer on the back of five wins for Russiantime Racing, which helped them win the Teams title.

Jaime Alguersuari; Spain
The ex-Scuderia Toro Rosso prodigy became Formula 1's youngest ever driver when making his F1 debut at the Hungaroring in 2009 at the age of 19yrs, 125-days old, a mark that will be surpassed next year when 17yr old Max Verstappen makes his Formula 1 debut for Toro Rosso Down Under at Albert Park.

Alguersuari raced for Toro Rosso alongside Sebastien Buemi for two and one-half seasons  before the pair were thrown out like dirty bath water at the end of the 2011 season... Something Verstappen's hopefully aware of, while Alguersuari tries rekindling  his racing career at the tender age  of 24!

And Jaime isn't NO slouch behind the wheel of a single seater, having become Formula 3's youngest ever champion at 18yrs for Carlin Motorsport in '08 upon besting fellow competitors Brendon Hartley, Oliver Turvey and 'Checa, nee Sergio Perez. With Hartley now being a Porsche Factory WEC driver, Turvey an ex-McLaren F1 tester and current GP2 racer, while Perez currently races for Force India in Formula 1. As Jaime's always got his DJ career to fall back upon if the Formula E Gig' doesn't work out...

Interestingly, four-time IndyCar champion Dario "REO Speedwagon" Franchitti will be the series expert  colour commentator, with Fox Sports One (FS1) airing the entire season on its primarily A-L-L things 'RASSCAR motorsports programming, having let Formula 1 be picked up by rival cable TV network NBCSN. While another notable Open Wheel Racing talent named Gil de Feran has taken up the role as Formula E Ambassador.

Yet, not everybody's onboard with the new Formulae, which I'd come across the following yarn on, which sadly I can NO longer read due to their ridiculous decision to GOOBER their website in order to go A-L-L Touch Screen Smartfone  "Palm Pilot friendly; BARF!


Whilst Y'all can view the full 2014-15 Formula E series season calendar by clicking here