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New Formula E series gets off to a dramatic start in Beijing

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New Formula E series gets off to a dramatic start in Beijing
Sep 13, 2014, 6:32 PM

A crash on the final corner of the final lap, which sent former BMW Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld rolling, tagged by Nicolas Prost the son of four ti...

A crash on the final corner of the final lap, which sent former BMW Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld rolling, tagged by Nicolas Prost the son of four times F1 world champion Alain - it was a dramatic opening race for Formula E in Beijing today.

Formula E

The new FIA zero emissions series made a successful debut with a 25 lap race which featured a mixture of close racing, strategy and tactics on energy management.

It meant that performance swung from one car to another with the field closing up and cars coming through depending on how they attacked the race. The closing stages were particularly interesting as drivers who had maintained pace while conserving energy came to the fore.

The race was almost won by Prost, in his father Alain’s E-Dams team; Prost started the race from pole position and led throughout apart from the pit stop phase, where Sam Bird took the lead on a different strategy. Prost's team mate Sebastien Buemi, one of the favourites had a serties of accidents throughout the day and ended up out of contention. Bruno Senna was eliminated at the start.

Heidfeld made up three places during the race and had managed his energy for a final assault. But when he came to pass Prost down the left side, the inside, the Frenchman turned into him and flipped him over.

Lucas di Grassi

Prost's suspension broke so he could not turn left and cross the finish line so a grateful Lucas di Grassi made history as the first winner of a Formula E race. He and Daniel team mate Daniel Abt were competitive throughout, as was Franck Montagny, who made some aggressive overtakes and ended up second at the chequered flag.

Nick Heidfeld Formula E crash

The new series, which has been almost three years in development, saw pretty good reliability in the field, with just Jarno Trulli an early casualty. But on the whole retirements were due to drivers hitting the barriers or each other around the tight Beijing street circuit.

According to the FIA, "Some 40 million are believed to have watched the race worldwide on television with 75,000 attending on site and one billion social interactions recorded around the race."

The crash was the main talking point and in purely pragmatic terms is probably one of the best things that could have happened - give that no-one was hurt - as it gave the new series widespread exposure on news channels with footage and stills of the spectacular crash.

Series promoter Alejandro Agag said he was pleased with the first outing for the sport, "We had the big drama at the end on the last corner of the last lap with that horrendous crash," he said.

"The most important thing today is to say that the safety is always first, that we have proven today that electric cars are safe. I don't think we can get a bigger crash to the one we got today."

A You Tube edit of the race highlights can be seen here

The series will feature ten rounds in total, ending in London next June. Round two of the series takes place in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on Saturday November 22 2014, the same weekend as the F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi.

* What do you think of the start Formula E made? Do you think it could catch on? Leave your comments in the section below.

Do you think Formula E has made a positive debut?
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Series Formula 1 , Formula E
Tags innovation