Video: Inaugural Formula-E Race Described in 14 Seconds
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The First 14 Seconds of This Video Describe the Formula-E Race in Beijing

So people wanted to know what the first Formula-level electric car race was going to be like?  Click on the video above.  It was racing, pure and simple.  Two drivers on the last lap, not giving an inch on the way to the finish line.  And a crash, for you crash junkies out there.

LucasDiGrassi-Victory-Beijing-2014

Lucas diGrassi, of Audi Sport Abt ended up the winner.  Frank Montagny of Andretti AutoSport came in second.  Sam Bird of Virgin Racing came in third, after Daniel Abt, also with Audi Sport Abt, was disqualified for not meeting minimum power consumption usage.

Racing team at 2014 Beijing Formula-E race

It wasn’t shop class geeks driving weird cars that no one would drive.  The Formula-E cars are as sleek and sexy as anything F1 or Indycar.

Formula-E cars heading into a turn, 2014 Bejing EPrix

It wasn’t a bunch of drivers being polite and driving down the track for the greater good of saving the world.  There was bumping and rubbing.  And, as we all know, “rubbing’ is racin'”.

Formula-E car with broken wing, Beijing 2014

It wasn’t an event that no one was interested in.  The stands were full, there and there were TV crews from around the world.  Formula E provides a worldwide audience reach estimate, in this post-race press recap.  Remember the term ‘reach’ is potential audience, so take these numbers with a grain of sals the size of a Boeing C-5:

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 F1 Broadcasting Blog provides some more down to earth number on UK viewership:

A peak audience of 713k across live and highlights on ITV4 watched the inaugural Formula E race from Beijing, overnight viewing figures show.

The live airing, from 08:00 to 10:55, averaged 266k (4.0%). The audience grew throughout the build-up, hitting 367k (5.4%) for the race start at 09:10 and then 446k (6.4%) at 09:30. The peak came at 10:00 as Nicolas Prost and Nick Heidfeld collided, with an audience of 477k (6.8%) watching at that point. Later in the day, highlights of the race at 18:00 averaged 161k (1.1%), peaking with 237k (1.7%). The combined number, if you wish to use that measure, is therefore an average of 425k, with a peak of 713k.

They go on to say that these numbers aren’t at all bad.  The race achieved similar viewership numbers as MotoGP.  But Formula-E was in a worse time slot, at 8 am in the UK.  I can’t find viewership statistics from other countries, yet.

I watched the race, time-shifted.  Two-thirds of it was boring.  Clearly a result of heightened expectations on my part.  I wasn’t crazy about just 25 laps; perfect for an inaugural race, not so much if you are accustomed to F1–or the 500 miles in NASCAR.  I couldn’t shake the thought that there was a Chinese bureaucrat with a stopwatch somewhere saying, “you and your people must be off the streets by 2 pm”.

But the final third was when everything seemed to settle down, no safety cars, and after the car switches (it takes 1 minute and 42 seconds to jump from one car to another?).  The racing got much better.  I missed when di Grassi used his FanBoost bonus, something that I think they’ll have to play up much better.

But the last 5 minutes of actual time was the best.  It was racing.  I’m sorry for the crash, and am happy Nick Hedfield is OK.  Now it’s on to Malaysia!

Here’s a very cool recap video:

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Copyright 2014 Hybrid and Electric Car News

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Sebastian James

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