I’d been quite hyped for a while about Formula E when it finally came to our screens in 2014. And as the race closed out with Nick Heidfeld going upside-down over Nico Prost in Beijing, I realised it was the start of something great.
Normally, an electric series would be no cause for excitement for me. At least, not when the series was first conceived. I hadn’t really been sold on battery powered electrics and still thought the sustainable energy that would actually keep the motor car alive would be hydrogen (which I’ll stick by for the long term at least). However, the electric car has come on in leaps and bounds as of late, and Formula E has been a big part of that.
But what could have interested me so beforehand?
Probably the big thing at first was the tracks. The idea of racing in all the world’s big cities just has something thrilling about it. I mean, some of the great race tracks are very out of reach of even reasonably big towns. But Formula E brings it into the cities themselves. Of course, it was made rather more appealing by the calendar featuring my very home town of London on it. While it took time to announce the venue, I went to both days of what became a double race at Battersea Park and it was just terrific. Especially considering how the series ended.
Of course, it needed the right cast and crew to make it all happen. Fortunately, 10 teams were out in force with 20 (or more) drivers of very good motor racing pedigree in the races. Sure, they weren’t the top bill, rather ‘second tier’ drivers as it were. In this regard Formula E is like the Championship – and much like some people say the Championship is better than the Premier League (I’m not one of them), Formula E has turned out to be just so.
And the reason for that is because of the racing itself. On paper, the recipe doesn’t sound great. City circuits do not often lend themselves to racing, and yet here, especially towards the end of races, we see drivers going hell for leather for positions. Most races tend to be slow burners, but that’s all the more reason to watch to the end…something exciting is bound to happen! And it comes packed with the one element of motor racing I love more than anything else – unpredictability. With the cars being identical for the first season, you just never knew who was gonna win one race or the next. Quite simply, the best driver would win…but all the drivers were so close! Brilliant. As teams are allowed to build their own cars, that’ll probably be slightly less invoked, but for now at least the series has remained hard to call. IndyCar, which I previously reviewed, also has this quality to an extent.
Of course at this early stage in its life there is much criticism towards some elements. Fanboost is often the biggest target, except most people don’t realise it hasn’t yet made even a hint of difference to a race yet. So it’s pretty much invalid. Sound is also brought up, and given F1’s recent troubles it is serious business. Personally I don’t care about it, so I can’t really argue against those who do. Besides there are subtle differences appearing in sound with the new motors. The last big point most people mention is the need to change cars at pit stops, which is certainly an innate issue with using electric cars. That’ll only ever get fixed once quick charging finally becomes a thing, but for now pit stops not only shake up races, but add the element of strategy that often makes the late-race action what it is. So it’s certainly doing a job for now.
Anyway, after all this talk about the real thing I suppose I should say I was delighted to see the first season’s cars coming to Forza 6 in all their glory. Whilst the champion’s car was still in the old livery, that was nothing that a design couldn’t fix, as you see in the second picture.
The first thing to point out is you can rev the cars up slightly before you’ve even started. As far as I’m concerned, this is impossible on the real things. Trust me, I know.
It’s not too easy to tell, but judging by the sounds of the batteries they’re rising up like something would from the bottom of the rev range. Speaking of the sound, it’s accurate in terms of the sound itself, but not really in volume. Onboard it sounds fine, but whereas a real one at speed is as loud as this…
They’re about as quiet as a road-going electric in-game. So that’s not quite so accurate.
Still, the car itself is damn good. It’s not that fast – it won’t be going more than 140mph – but that just makes it all the easier to drive. The acceleration is still good anyway and it’s very simple to use through the corners. It spins the wheels if you go full throttle all the time but controlling the throttle is such an easy task.
Of course, in keeping with the Formula E theme I’m driving it around a public road…yes, it is one, technically. But apparently lots of race cars are too dangerous to take around this one. The Formula E, however, felt no more dangerous around it than walking. Perhaps an idea to take into account, if the Berlin race is still running into troubles…
In Forza though, the car is certainly a superb racer in all important aspects. Given that it mostly races itself in this game, the speed issue is a non-factor typically. You really ought to give it a try. In face, since you have to complete the Formula E category races in career to 100% anyway, you have to give it several tries there.
But what you should really give a try is the real thing. These are the cars from last year, and I’d quite fancy the ones from this year too – and some tracks from the series with it. Sure, Renault might be best at the moment (cunning how they made the original so they know what to do with it) and so everyone would probably just use that, and Trulli has sadly gone west now, but fear not…for Jaguar is coming next year, it would seem!
I hope for all intents and purposes they’re the most caddish racing team the world has ever seen. Because it would beat F1 into a cocked hat in that regard as well.