Nelson Piquet Jr

Nelson Piquet Jr/No.99 China Racing Formula E Team took the lead before the Turn One chicane, and dominated the Long Beach Formula Electric Race. He temporarily lost the lead during his mandatory pit stop, but worked his way back to the front in short order.

It was Piquet Jr’s first FE win.

It’s been thirty-five years since Nelson Piquet won his first Formula One race at Long Beach. Young Piquet is of Brazilian heritage, born in Germany and speaks American like a Yank. The only advice Dad gave Son was touristy information on where to go and what to do in Long Beach, with the stress on the Queen Mary.

“It feels good. Our team deserves a win to keep up the motivation.” Regarding his Fan Boost, Piquet admitted that “Honestly, I ended up not using up my Fan Boost. I didn’t want to mess things up. I don’t know where we are in the points, but this helped our standing.” (ED Note – he is now second, one point adrift of first place.)

Piquet was very complimentary of Long Beach’s circuit with its storied history.

Second and third were Jean-Eric Vergne/No.27 Andretti Autosport Formula E Team and Lucas di Grassi/No.11 Audi Sport ABT.

Vergne said it was a “rock star kind of a day.”

Di Grassi “It’s an honor to be back in the lead of the Championship.”

Nelson Piquet Jr

Jean-Eric Vergne

Lucas di Grassi

The start of the race was just as predicted by Formula E Ambassador, Dario Franchitti. At least a third of the field tried to straighten out the Turn One chicane, going three-four abreast and on both sides of the kerbing. But, amazingly enough, it appeared that all got through, albeit not entirely unscathed.

Nelson Piquet Jr got past pole sitter Daniel Abt before the chicane on that first lap.

Scott Speed/No.28 Andretti Autosport Formula E Team hit the wall in the Turn One chicane on Lap Four, bringing out the tricked-out electric BMW Safety Car, which gets charged wirelessly. Speed was unhurt; his car was hoisted and towed.

Jarno Trulli fell afoul of the Queen’s Hairpin, the last corner before the front straight: he spun and stalled. Charles Pic/No.88 China Racing Formula E Team was under investigation for making an unsafe inside pass. This brought out the second Safety Car, soon after the first.

Sam Bird made his pit stop early on and retired on Lap 22. Bird turned the fastest race lap time of 59.241 seconds, on Lap 13, and held onto it for awhile after he retired.

Loic Duval/No.6 Dragon Racing turned the next fastest race lap on Lap 31; only to be pipped by Nicolas Prost/No.8 Team e.dams Renault on Lap 34 with a time of 58.973 seconds/130.1 kph/80.840 mph. That earned him two bonus points. Prost got a drive-through penalty for shunting Jerome di Ambrosio/No.7 Dragon Racing, and finished fourteenth.

Duval clipped Salvador Duran/No.77 Amlin Aguri Formula E Team, and Duran retired on Lap 27. Duval finished ninth.

Abt got a driver through penalty on lap 32 of the 39-lap race, for max power over use. This dropped him from third to fourteenth, and he ended up fifteenth – second to last finisher. Small comfort that he got three bonus points for starting first.

Several cars were under investigation during the race, including Trulli, Prost, Abt, and di Ambrosio; and Sebastien Buemi/No.9 Team e.dams Renault got a warning flag.

Jim Michaelian

Formula E officials estimated Saturday’s crowd at 23,000. The grandstands were full on the Start-Finish straight and very enthusiastic. Lots of people were seen all around the circuit, and the demographic appeared – to my untrained eye – to be different from the usual die-hard race crowd. There were lots of families with children of all ages. The whole day went well, overall, which led to big smiles on the face of Jim Michaelian, President of the Grand Prix of Long Beach Association.

The next round is on the historic streets of Monaco on 9 May 2015.

PROVISIONAL RESULTS of Long Beach Formula Electric Race
1-Nelson Piquet Jr
2-Jean-Eric Vergne
3-Lucas di Grassi
4-Sebastien Buemi
5-Bruno Senna
6-Jerome D’Ambrosio
7-Antonio Felix de Costa
8-Jame Alguersuari
9-Loic Duval
10-Stephane Sarrazin
11-Nick Heidfeld
12-Karun Chandhok
13-Vitantonio Liuzzi
14-Nicolas Prost
15-Daniel Abt
16-Charles Pic
Salvador Duran
Sam Bird
Jarno Trulli
Scott Speed

PROVISIONAL DRIVER STANDINGS after Long Beach Formula Electric Race
1-Lucas di Grassi-75
2-Nelson Piquet-74
3-Nicolas Prost-69
4-Sebastien Buemi-55
5-Sam Bird-52
6-Antonio Felix da Costa-43
7-Jerome D’Ambrosio-42
8-Jean-Eric Vergne-32
9-Jaime Alguersuari-30
10-Bruno Senna-22

Each driver is allowed to drop a score, keeping all but one of his best results.


Daniel Abt's garage

The car of provisional pole sitter Sebastien Buemi/No.10 Team e.dams Renault was found to have exceeded the allotted 200 kw power usage and the lost his fastest qualifying lap. The Swiss driver, 2014 Champion of the World Endurance Championship, will now start tenth.

One other driver lost his fastest qualifying lap for exceeding power: Antonio Felix de Castro/No.55 Amlin Aguri will now start seventh.

As the Stewards determined that the power usage was exceeded on a Red Flag lap, the infringement wasn’t as severe as it could have been; hence, only losing fastest qualifying lap was the penalty.

The revised grid now has Daniel Abt/No.66 Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team on pole, followed by points leader Nicolas Prost/No.9 Team e.dams Renault and Nelson Piquet Jr/No.99 China Racing Formula E Team in third.

Piquet, of Germany, is also one of the three drivers to receive Fan Boost during the race. The other two drivers are Sam Bird of England, in No.2 Virgin Racing Formula E Team (starting eleventh) and Jean-Eric Vergne of France driving No.27 Andretti Autosport Formula E Team, starting fifth.


Parc Ferme

Formula Electric team owner, Alain Prost, was a happy camper Saturday afternoon when one of his two drivers, Sebastien Buemi, took the pole position for Saturday afternoon’s Long Beach Formula Electric Race. Buemi’s time was 56.853 seconds in the No.9 e.dams Renault. Prost’s son and Points Leader, Nicolas Prost, had held the top position for much of the time, until being bested by his teammate and then by Daniel Abt/No.10Audi Sport ABT, who qualified second.

Formula E rules allow the drivers to use either A or B car in the practice sessions. The FE rules dictate that the qualifying car must start the race. Abt had a severe shunt in the first morning session, which meant his team had to beaver away for several hours getting that car race ready. He drove his second/B car in the other two practices and for qualifying.

Mechanic stuffing dry ice in hot car

After qualifying, the cars are impounded in Parc Ferme, with no work allowed on the car. That is, except for adding dry ice to help cool down the car. As the fully electric race cars have no cooling fans, they need to be cooled off after a session.

Unlike most professional race series, the FE drivers don’t have a Post-Qualifying Media Conference. They all check in with their car at the FE Scrutineering Bay, for weighing with and separate from their race car. Afterwards they are available for interviews with selected TV Broadcasters. The top three must remain in this area until his qualifying time is bumped.

After Qualifying, the drivers have a mandatory Driver’s Autograph session in eVillage.

Each FE team garage has an assigned dedicated FIA Scrutineer who never leaves the area. Relief Scrutineers spell the dedicated official. They wear blue tabards and are mostly unobtrusive, in the corners or on the sidelines. They often go unnoticed by the general public. These volunteers are mostly locals, recruited for the weekend due to their technical/mechanical expertise. These Scrutineers had thorough training on Friday. For the weekend, they are members of SCCA.


Jaime Alguersuari & Scott Speed

Scrutineer in Trulli Garage

Out on the course the volunteer marshals are all long-time SCCA members, mostly from Cal Club and some from San Francisco Region. There are no out of state or country marshals for this weekend. They had to be at the track Friday at oh dark thirty for their training and to staff the course for the various safety checks and inspections. Saturday they again met before dawn to be race ready for the 7am Track Inspection.

While FE is a FIA international series run, at Long Beach there are many familiar faces among the various race officials. FE Clerk of the Course is James Foyle-SCCA & F1 at COTA; Dennis Dean-SCCA & F1 at COTA-is FE Steward of the Meet; IndyCar & F1 at COTA Jim Swintal is the voice of FE Race Control; SCCA-F1 at COTA Jo Anne Jensen is the FE EV Dispatcher; Mazda Road to Indy’s Road Diane Swintal is the FE logger; SCCA Pro Racing & Pirelli World Challenge Kathy Malleck handles the FE Grid; and Suzanne Royce, long-time USGP F1 Scrutineer Chief is here with Phil Royce, training Scrutineers. Augmenting the FE Medical Crew are the two doctors who founded and ran the CART Medical Team – Dr. Steve Olvey and Dr. Terry Trammell.

And BTW, to correct an earlier posting, the Grid Girls are wearing chaste but short blue ‘dresses.’


Pre-Practice Pine Avenue

The weather was beautifully sunny. bright and warm in Long Beach for the long one-day Long Beach Formula Electric Race.

The morning schedule calls for three 25-minute non-qualifying practice sessions, with breaks for non Fe-related activities. One of those activities was the lottery for the four qualifying groups, which each will have ten minutes of track time.

The sounds, such as they were, didn’t require earplugs. I watched from above Turn Three – Pine Avenue corner. The loudest noise was the tires when cars braked for the curve, and then the grinding sound going down the straight – much like a small power tool. The loudest noise was a car hitting and sliding down the concrete barrier wall.

All twenty drivers were on track for all three sessions.

Salvador Duran


Jerome d'Ambrosio

Nelson Piquet/No.99 China Racing Formula E Team was fastest in the first practice at 59.723 seconds, which he turned on his last of his 11 laps. Second was Bruno Senna/No.21 Mahindra Racing Formula E Team at 59.977. They were the only two drivers under a minute around the 1.324-miles/2.131 km modified IndyCar street circuit. American Scott Speed racing for the American Andretti Autosport Formula E Team was third.

Lucas di Grassi/No.11 Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team was faster yet, topping the chart in Practice Two, at 57.3 seconds. And then he repeated his skills in Practice Three, running even faster – 57.203 seconds.

Despite his shunt in the second practice, Andretti Autosport’s second driver, Jean-Eric Vergne/No.27 was second fastest in the last practice. Vergne’s crash looked and sounded spectacular, but he was alright. He slid hard into a tire barrier, toppled the tires and then hit the wall and slid down. Quite noisy. Made all the Highlights Reels.

Red Flag

Di Grassi’s teammate, Daniel Abt/No.66 Audi Sport ABT, wasn’t as fortunate as di Grassi. Abt hit the wall in Turn One during P1, and the subsequent Red Flag ended that session prematurely. Abt was alright, and he got out for the other two sessions.

Points leader Nicolas Prost, driving No.8e.dams Renault was twelfth fastest in the first practice, and third overall in the second and third practices.

Nicholas Prost's Car with Green Light Indicator

The SCCA volunteer track marshals had extensive training on Friday on marshalling the FIA way.The key point made regarded dealing with/responding to the fully electric cars. Marshals were told not respond to any car until the Green Light indicator is visible, and especially stay away when the indicator is Red.

FIA Formula Electric is not following in the path just taken by FIA WEC – banning Grid Girls from all races. For the Formula E race, the Grid Girls will be wearing chaste but very short FIA-blue dresses.

Next up Qualifying.


LB Fe Entrance

Welcome to Media Day for the Long Beach Formula Electric Race. Drivers, teams, principals and media met in a relaxed melieu.

Among the invited guests for Media Conferences were the two American team owners Michael Andretti of Andretti Autosport Formula E Team and Jay Penske of Dragon Racing Formula E Team. Also present was Dario Franchitti, the FIA Formula E Ambassador.

Michael Andretti & Dario Franchitti

Formula e  Platform

Jay Penske

Drivers included points leader Nicolas Prost/Teams e.dams Racing Renault of France, American Scott Speed/Andretti Autosport and Salvador Duran of Mexico/Amlin Aguri of Great Britain.

Nicholas Prost

Scott Speed

Salvador Duran & Jay Penske

One feature of the fully electric Formula e races is the mandatory pit stop to change cars. The minimum time is determined by FIA, and in the case of Long Beach, it has yet to be decided. This is the first race of the new series where the pit stops will be done in Pit Lane instead of the garages.

Formula e will run a shortened version of the current IndyCar track used at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in two weeks. Formula e’s race will be 1.324-miles/2.131 km. The modification includes cutting out what is known as the Turn One area at the end of the front straight. Instead, there will be a chicane at Pit Exit. This looks like it will be quite tight, so the standing start and rush to the chicane should prove quite interesting. Watch it live in the US on Fox Sports 1 Saturday. The race starts at 4pm PDT.

As Ambassador, Franchitti has been and will travel to all the Formula e races except those in the Merry Month of May – Monaco and Berlin – because of his involvement with the IndyCar Indianapolis Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 races.

Dario Franchitti & Leah

Franchitti, retired IndyCar driver, is really enjoying being with the series – “the racing’s been great. It’s absolutely first class.

“I’m excited to see next year with the new motors. I’ve been following the evolution and them really working on the power train. Every single seater has the same basic whatever you call it. I’m excited to see how it performs.

“I know the track intimately. I’ve seen the chicane. I don’t think it will be tight. You know drivers, they will straighten it out. I think it will put a lot of stress on the cars – the suspension. It ought to make for really good TV.”

As with other FIA series, there comes a certain amount of pomp and circumstances. Stay tuned for the glamour and glitz.



Formula E Race Director Car

In a month, in Hawthorne CA, Elon Musk, President of Tesla – maker of electric cars and batteries, will make an announcement regarding a new product which won’t be a car. Most pundits say that Tesla, making the announcement from its Hawthorne Design Studio near Long Beach, will introduce a home battery. But, some insiders are predicting that Musk is more than interested in joining the Formula E series.

The current Formula E battery has 28KW/energy, producing up to 270bhp in qualifying trim and 200bhp in race trim. This lithium battery has the same power as 10,000 AA disposable batteries, and can be fully charged in fifty minutes.

Tesla already makes 60 kw lithium car battery which goes 265 miles, more than any other electric car. It can be charged from any ordinary household outlet, taking up to 72 minutes for a full charge. It’s thought that Musk’s goal is to further FIA’s idea of sustainability by producing a battery which will run the length of a Formula E race, allowing the series to cut costs by having only one car per driver. FIA’s stated goal is to push the boundaries of the latest technology. Musk’s plan would eliminate the need for compromise between performance and cost effectiveness.

Musk and his Tesla are already noted for its cutting-edge technology. The Tesla S scored five out of five stars by the National Highway Safety Administration, the highest-ever rating in the history of the automobile. It even broke the machine that was intended to crush it during a roll-over test.

Musk will be the guest of FIA Saturday at the Long Beach Formula E race. He will take a VIP lap after morning practice, and will be one of the VIP Grid Guests during the Opening Ceremonies.



Formula E

This weekend ten teams – twenty international drivers, including one American – will take to the streets of Long Beach for the 2015 Long Beach Formula E Race, the sixth of ten international FIA Formula E races and the second of two in the United States. This unique series, conceived by FIA President, Jean Todt, features purpose built single seater open wheel cars. The difference with this series is that the cars are fully electric. Basically, the only sound is that of the tires and transmission.

Among other differences of this new FIA series: all the circuits are street courses; the race meetings are one-day events with three morning practice sessions, four rounds of afternoon qualifying, and a fifty-minute race at 4pm, televised live in the United States on Fox Sports One. The F1-style Point system is used, with 25 points for first, down to one point for tenth. Additionally, three points are given for pole position, and two bonus points for fastest race lap.

And … the races are free.

The spec series cars, built by Spark Racing Technologies and integrated by Renault, have Dallara chassis, batteries built by Williams Advanced Engineering, McLaren motors, and Michelin treaded tires.

The race at Long Beach will run thirty-nine laps, with a mid-way pit stop of a determined minimum length for the drivers to change cars.

The 2.131 km/1.324 mile Formula E circuit is part of the 1.968 mile IndyCar circuit used by the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, this year in its 41st year.

The Long Beach round of the Formula E series is unique in another way – it’s the first race to have the same driver line-up as the previous round. And there have been five different winners in five races. Twenty-nine drivers have participated, with ten teams.

Leading the Driver’s Standings is Nicolas Prost of France with 67 points earned over all five races. American Scott Speed, driving for Andretti Formula E, is eleventh with 18 points with one race, earned in Round Five at Miami. The only other American driver, Marco Andretti, ran one race with no earned points. The e-dams-Renault Team leads the Team Standings with 110 points over the five rounds.

Saturday’s schedule starts at 8:15am PDT with the first 25-minute practice. The day ends after the 5pm Podium ceremony.