28 FALL 2016
f we have to take the doors off and the
seats out, we’ll get this car into the air…”
grins Peter, the Air Greenland helicopter
pilot. His confidence is bold, brazen even.
He’s made of the right stuff.
Twice, his Bell 212 Twin Huey has failed
to lift a ton of Formula E electric racecar
and it’s aluminum palette off the ground at
Kulusuk, let alone fly it 40 miles to where
it’s due to drive on the Greenland ice sheet.
A world’s first feat is at risk, so Peter
jettison his jockey-sized engineer (putting
him in a second helicopter) and a few loose
bits from the chopper itself, a 150lb saving.
Already out on the ice is the driver,
Brazilian Lucas di Grassi. He and Formula E
founder and CEO Alejandro Agag have
been waiting for two hours as news of the
struggle reaches them by satellite phone.
“Just getting here is a challenge. If it
was easy, then everyone would have done
this,” Agag states, as a man with a rifle
stands nearby. This is polar bear country...
Out on the Atlantic, huge irregular chunks
of iceberg float southward. Up to 300 billion
tons of the ice sheet is melting every year.
According to one calculation, that’s around
eight million cubic miles of frozen water.
So, to draw attention to global warming,
Formula E has chosen to drive a zero-
emission racecar on ground zero for one
of the biggest threats facing mankind.
“We want to raise awareness and
promote the use of electric cars,” Agag
says. “We think that electric cars are one
way to fight climate change, and the best
connection was to drive this car on the
ice sheet. If all cars in the world were
electric, this ice would be much bigger.”
As the car is finally lowered to the ice,
Agag and di Grassi leap up and down as if
they’ve won a race. But will it run?
Di Grassi pats it, then inspects its
special paint job. The rear wing travelled
inside the Huey after getting slightly
damaged on the first aborted lift. It’s soon
The only noise on the ice sheet is a stiff
breeze and the gurgle of meltwater. As
the summer sun warms it, a trickle has
turned into a stream. Under the crunchy
crust of this frozen desert echoes the
thunder of an underground river.
Formula E drove one of its zero-emissions racers on the Greenland
ice sheet to highlight the challenge of global climate change.
WORDS Jeremy Hart MAIN IMAGE Formula E/Inc