Until the first Formula E race takes place in Beijing come September, all the hype surrounding the new electric racing series will remain exactly that: hype. But the series has taken a big step toward reality with the first test session of the Spark-Renault SRT_01E that is set to form the backbone of the tree-hugging motorsport discipline.

The session took place at the Circuit La Ferté Gaucher, a track we had never heard of in northern France that makes us wonder why they didn't go for a warmer location closer to the Côte d'Azur given the dropping autumnal temperatures. (Maybe it has to do with the same reason we keep our batteries in the fridge.) In any case, former F1 driver and Macau Grand Prix winner Lucas di Grassi handled driving duties without incident around 40 laps over two days of testing, with a 50kW battery representing just a quarter of the power the final car will produce in race spec.

In related news, Audi racing partner ABT Sportsline recently signed on as the seventh of ten teams to form part of the grid for 2014, joining the likes of Drayson Racing, Andretti Autosport and Super Aguri. The eighth team is set to be announced later this week, but for now you can check out the footage of the Spart-Renault SRT_01E lapping the Gaucher circuit in the video below.

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FORMULA E CAR COMPLETES SUCCESSFUL TEST DEBUT
Fully-electric Spark-Renault SRT_01E breaks cover at La Ferte Gaucher circuit

LA FERTÉ GAUCHER, FRANCE, (21 November, 2013) – Formula E's new fully-electric race car, the Spark-Renault SRT_01E, completed is successful test debut recently at the La Ferté Gaucher circuit near Choisy-le-Roi, France.

Unveiled earlier this year (September) at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the new single-seater was driven by Lucas di Grassi who will be undertaking the early test and development work. The zero emission car completed around 40 laps over two days with the initial task of checking all systems were functioning correctly. For the test, the car was fitted with a 50kw battery which is a quarter of the maximum 200kw power (270bhp equivalent) the final car will produce.

"It is a great feeling to be driving the Formula E car for the first time," said Di Grassi. "I can assure all the drivers will have a lot of fun with this car - even with just a quarter of the power it has quite a lot of grip and the electric motor produces huge torque."

The SRT_01E has been designed and built by French based Spark Racing Technology together with a consortium of the leading manufacturers in motorsport, and will compete in the inaugural FIA Formula E Championship - the world's first global electric race series beginning in September 2014. The chassis has been constructed by Dallara, with McLaren Electronics Systems providing the electric motor, gearbox and electronics, Williams Advanced Engineering the batteries, Renault the overall systems integration and Michelin the tyres.

Frédéric Vasseur, President of Spark Racing Technology, said: "Everything went very well and it was a very positive maiden run for the Spark-Renault SRT_01E. The car ran for around 40 laps with no issues straight out of the box, which looks good for the overall reliability. We were also running with a much smaller battery than we will use – just 25% of the full power - which again gives us confidence going forward. The next test is planned for the coming weeks where we want to increase the mileage on the car, working our way up to a full race simulation."

Alejandro Agag, CEO of Championship promoters Formula E Holdings, added: "The first test was a historic moment for the championship and we're delighted with how it has gone. We think teams, drivers and fans will love the way it looks and sounds. Now Frédéric and his team, together with Lucas, will begin to put mileage on the car, focusing on durability. It's a very exciting development and we can't wait for that first race in Beijing in September 2014 to see all 20 cars lined-up on the grid."


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      Tony six-gear
      • 1 Year Ago
      RC car are more fun to watch!
      Liam
      • 1 Year Ago
      That car was running with 25% of the power needed for one race not 25% of what it will have. Each car can only do half a race (so the final spec will have twice what that one has) so each driver has two cars and will switch half way through...
        Dave D
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Liam
        No, you're reading it wrong. This car had only 50kW of power (67hp)...when they race, they will have 200kW (270hp). So they actually meant what they said....it had 25% of it's total power output. This is different from the energy CAPACITY which is the limiting factor for how long the races can be.
      groingo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Nice to hear it shift gears, would like to see transmissions in all electrics.
      Autoholics Anonymous
      Interesting how the electric motor sounds similar to an F1 engine only much quieter and at a higher pitch.
      TopGun
      • 1 Year Ago
      Autoracing's battle to be relevant will only intensity - this just might be the trick. As a "legacy" auto racing fan, I applaud this.
      SteveG
      • 1 Year Ago
      I can deal with the change to electric, heck I love it. Making the first season a spec series kills it for me. The best part of formula 1 is figuring out how they are cheating. From the F-duct to the "Not" Traction Control on Vettel's car. F1 is as much or more a competition between the teams as it is the drivers. It's derivatives should do the same.
        Jason
        • 1 Year Ago
        @SteveG
        That's just not practical. There are not enough crazy people with unlimited $$ and €€ that would agree to spend millions on upfront investment in the series, based on unmitigated confidence that their own design would triumph, only to run the risk that one concept would completely destroy the field and dominate the series. It has to be developed first as a spec series and later, if it is viable, the teams will be given the chance to develop new technology. First in the defined 'spaces' where innovations are acceptable, and ulimately, perhaps in the chassis and powertrain areas.
          Ryan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jason
          But, we need the research and competition to push better batteries and motors. It shouldn't be about which driver i the best right now.
          SteveG
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jason
          Then I will simply not watch. Many other F1 fans are going to be of the same mindset. I predict this is what either kills or severely limits the popularity of the series, while the media and FIA will place blame on the cars being electric.
      sodamninsane
      • 1 Year Ago
      So that was the "hey, take this thing out but don't actually do anything racy in it" day? I will be interested to hear how much the car weighs, what the performance stats are... coming off the grand prix weekend @ interlagos and watching the macau races... this thing looks thoroughly boring. 8kWh battery pack is pretty tiny too... I wonder if they are going to invest in something like a super cap for regen and fast discharge during the race?