That'd be the nascent FIA Formula E Championship, the electric racing series that's set to kick off later this year. Organizers have already finalized the calendar and announced the teams set to take part. They've even demoed the car in public. All that's left is to line up the drivers, and that's just what they're doing.
Although the series and its teams aren't quite ready to announce their driver lineups just yet, they have launched what they're calling the Formula E Drivers' Club. The list is made up of accomplished drivers, many of whom have raced in F1, support the idea of electric racing and are ready to get behind the wheel.
The roster includes former F1 drivers Sebastien Buemi, Karun Chandhok, Tonio Liuzzi, Takuma Sato and Lucas di Grassi (who's been serving as test driver for the SRT_01E that's set to become the backbone of the series). Other members of the club include IndyCar scion Marco Andretti, F3 and DTM racer Adrien Tambay and former F1 test driver Ma Quing Hua. A further ten drivers are set to be announced over the course of the coming weeks, which is a good thing, because with ten teams each to field two cars, they're going to need at least (hold on while we dust off the abacus)... twenty drivers in place come September when the first race kicks off in Beijing.
Top international drivers from F1, IndyCar and sportscar show support for new global electric race series
LONDON, UK (8, January 2014) – The FIA Formula E Championship has today revealed the first eight drivers to show their support for the new fully-electric race series by signing up to its official Formula E Drivers' Club.
Sebastien Buemi, Marco Andretti, Karun Chandhok, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Adrien Tambay, Ma Qing Hua, Lucas di Grassi and Takuma Sato have all committed to the new scheme, giving their official endorsement to the championship together with their willingness to race in the future. The new scheme will also give them the opportunity to experience track time in new Spark-Renault SRT_01E Formula E car, designed by Spark Racing Technologies together with a consortium of the leading names in motorsport including Dallara, McLaren, Williams, Renault and Michelin.
"We're delighted to be starting the New Year, which of course is a very important one for Formula E, on such a positive note by announcing our new Drivers' Club," said Alejandro Agag, CEO of series promoters Formula E Holdings. "From the very beginning, we have set out to deliver great racing to fans across the globe and to do that you need high calibre drivers. Now that we've announced all 10 teams, everyone is keen to find out who the drivers will be. Of course, we cannot confirm any drivers just yet as it will be down to the individual teams to select who fills their seats. However, we hope by offering them a 'pool' of top international drivers to choose from – all of whom support the new series – we can deliver on this promise of providing close, entertaining racing in city-centres around the world. We also hope it will showcase to fans, TV broadcasters and potential sponsors the high profile names Formula E is attracting and the level of drivers they can expect to see race come September."
Of the first eight names, Switzerland's Sebastien Buemi, Indian driver Karun Chandhok, Italy's Vitantonio Liuzzi, Lucas di Grassi from Brazil and Japanese driver Takuma Sato have all previously raced in Formula One, while China's Ma Qing Hua has been a test driver for both HRT and Caterham F1. Meanwhile, USA racer Marco Andretti – son of the legendary Michael Andretti – is one of IndyCar's top drivers finishing fifth in 2013, while Frenchman Adrien Tambay has raced in Formula 3, GP3, Formula Renault 3.5 and more recently DTM. A further 10 drivers will be revealed over the coming weeks via the championship's official website www.fiaformulae.com.
"I'm very happy to be a part of the new Formula E Drivers' Club," said Sebastien Buemi. "Motorsport should be seen to be the leader in developing and pushing new sustainable technologies so it will be great to see how this will influence not only motorsport but future road cars and the environment. The calendar is very strong and brings the racing to the fans, and the new Formula E car looks like it will be a lot of fun to drive."
Marco Andretti said: "This revolutionary racing series, paired with some of the world's best drivers, competing in top cities, will set a new standard for motorsport. The advanced technology is exciting. I'm not entirely sure what to expect but, for me, that is the most interesting part of this experience – the unknown factor. I'm looking forward to the growth and development of Formula E and am happy to be named as part of the Drivers' Club. I'm really looking forward to getting into the cockpit of one of these cars."
Karun Chandhok said: "Alejandro Agag has been a friend of mine for a number of years since our time in GP2. I've been speaking with him since the early days of Formula E and I'm very happy to be a part of the Drivers' Club for the series. The calendar looks great, as do the cars and it should be a great new way to go motor racing."
Takuma Sato added: "I am very excited to be a part of the Drivers' Club for the development of the Formula E cars. This series provides a huge potential for the future of motor racing and electric cars. I am sure that these fascinating new innovative multimedia contents will excite the new fans who will be watching this new series."
Today's announcement also means that Lucas di Grassi will no longer act as the only official Formula E test driver.
Formula E is a new FIA Championship using electric single-seater race cars capable of speeds in excess of 225km/h. The series will compete in the heart of 10 of the world's leading cities including London, Miami and Beijing. Ten teams, each with two drivers, will go head-to-head to create a unique and exciting racing series designed to appeal to a new generation of motorsport fan whilst accelerating the electric vehicle market and promoting sustainability.
For more information on Formula E visit www.fiaformulae.com
FIA Formula E Championship – Drivers' Club:
Marco Andretti (USA)
Sebastien Buemi (CHE)
Karun Chandhok (IND)
Lucas di Grassi (BRA)
Ma Qing Hua (CHN)
Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA)
Takuma Sato (JPN)
Adrien Tambay (FRA)