Depending on your point of view, the
inaugural season of FIA Formula E offered
either an intriguing addition to the
motorsports palette or a pallid imitation
of the real thing. Both fans and critics
generally agreed that the first all-electric
open-wheel series needed help in the
performance department, though, and
for season two – which kicks off Oct. 17 in
Beijing – it gets it, along with a boost in
technical variety and driving talent.
While the chassis and Williams-
designed battery remains spec, teams
can now manufacture their own electric
motors, whose power has been raised to
a maximum output of 170k W in race trim,
up from150k W, and a useful 200 for
qualifying. The motor, along with inverter/
ECU and gearbox, has been redesigned
by eight manufacturers. One of these is
Andretti Autosport, in partnership with
TE Connectivity. TE backed Simona de
Silvestro’s Andretti entry at the Indy 500
this year, and the Swiss joins Andretti’s
Formula E team full-time this season.
VW has enjoyed massive success in the World
Rally Championship in recent seasons – except
on home ground. But its French ace Sebastian
Ogier finally won Rally Germany this year and
is poised to win a third straight WRC title, too.
Formula E recharges for Season 2 with new tech, big names
With apologies to Renault, it’s hard
to think of anyone who brought
more Gallic flavor to Formula 1 than
Guy Ligier, who passed away on
Aug. 23 at the age of 85.
Ligier made his F1 debut as a
driver in 1966, but is best
remembered as a team owner. The
French blue Ligiers, which for much
of their time in F1 were backed by
Gitanes tobacco, are remembered
for their screaming Matra V12s. But
the team reached its best form after
swapping them for Cosworth V8s to
power its curvaceous JS11 (ABOVE).
In the hands of Jacques Laffite,
Patrick Depailler and, later, Didier
Pironi, the Ligier-Cosworths were
regular front-runners in 1979-’ 80. In
’ 81, Laffite contended for the world
championship with Matra power.
Ligier sold his team in 1992, but
later returned to things automotive
via the development of the Ligier
Microcars venture. His name lives on
in the French sports prototype
chassis built by Onroak Automotive.
Guy Ligier’s F1 teams were all French
and all charisma...and often tough to
beat. Here he is with Jacques Laffite
(right) and Patrick Depailler (left) at
the team’s zenith in 1979.
abt to be pacesetters
The Abt Schaeffler team demonstrated a
clear advantage at Donington’s open test,
despite few laps. It looked particularly strong
when performing longer runs at lower power.
“It’s all new technology, so It’s
not somethIng you can go anD
buy off the shelf...”
F1 and IndyCar champ
Jacques Villeneuve will race
full-time in Formula E with
the Venturi team.
Of course, this new tech resets the
series’ already steep learning curve, and
testing demonstrated that several of the
new manufacturers weren’t yet ready for
prime time. The Trulli squad scrapped its
own powertrain to return to the spec
Spark system, while Andretti’s team
managed only a handful of laps at
Donington Park – but resolved to push on.
“It’s all new technology, so it’s not
something you can go and buy off the
shelf,” noted Andretti team principal
Roger Griffiths. “It’s a huge challenge,
but something we’ve relished, because
it’s very exciting.”
Nelson Piquet Jr.
returns to defend his
Formula E title, but
his China Racing
team was among
several struggling to
get a handle on their