By Nick Miles
Driving for the Chinese team Nextey, the sportsman Sam Bird won the race for Virgin, after Stephane Sarrazin was given a 49 second penalty for exceeding his power allowance. Bird crossed the line first, having started on pole driving for Leonardo DiCaprio’s Venturi team, and also won the Visa Fastest Lap award.
Piquet was full of praise for his team, and said the championship had certainly been a challenging one, and would have been tough to win without the support of his team mates: “We’ve got a great group of guys. They trusted me and believed in me,” he said. “This has opened my career again. I was able to show my potential. At NEXTEV TCR we showed that if you put a good group of guys together you are able to fight against manufacturers, you just need to be smart. Thank you to Alejandro [Agag] and all the sponsors, without whom we wouldn’t be here tonight.”
The Formula E is the first ever single seater electric racing series and is sanctioned by the FIA. It takes place in 10 cities around the world, with the goal of providing thrills and excitement to a new global audience and showcasing what electric technology can do for the auto industry.
Formula E also addresses many of the biggest criticisms levelled at auto racing: there are no carbon emissions from its cars and the piercing screeches of engines have been replaced with the quiet hum of electric motors.
The Formula E car has a top speed of 150mph and its suite of stakeholders reads like a roll call of the great and the good in auto racing. Leonardo Di Caprio, Alan Prost and Richard Branson all own teams, and most of the drivers have a background in F1. In fact, three are relatives of some of the sport’s most famous champions: Piquet, Prost and Senna. Championship-winning F1 team McLaren makes the 300bhp electric motors, while Michelin provides the tyres, Renault is the technical partner and another F1 team, Williams, supplies the batteries.
Will.I.Am, Jody Kidd, Naomi Campbell, Antonio Banderas and Richard Branson were amongst the celebrities enjoying the race. Next year’s circuit will cut Monaco and add two new cities, and will surely see the race growing even more popular.