For every new driver who makes his way into Formula One, there's another who ends up flunking out, left to find a drive in another racing series. Fortunately there's no shortage of racing disciplines eager to lure a former grand prix pilot to their ranks. And soon there'll be one more.

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.
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FORMULA E LAUNCHES NEW DRIVERS' CLUB
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)


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  • 19 Comments
      Cool Disco Dan
      • 11 Months Ago
      Until they swap battery packs instead of cars it wont be that good.
        citroen_2cv
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Cool Disco Dan
        none, when racing they'll deploy a power-take stick or a undercarriage fin.
        Bernie Kressner
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Cool Disco Dan
        Yeah. It would be a short race, that's for sure. But would that not be the equivalent of a current LeMans car swapping already-filled fuel cells? And if swapping fuel cells is banned, why should swapping battery packs be allowed? I mean, why not just allow replacing the entire car half way through a race? Where does it stop? A race car is supposed to have its own integrity; its own identity; its own completeness. A race is not just about the driver: it's also about the car. The true analogue would be: each EV race car has to be RECHARGED, just like any other refueling process. Of course, we all know that the technology for recharging EV's can't work in less than 1 minute, so.....EV racing is dead for long races (e.g., 24 Hours of LeMans) without a battery swap. Now, if super-capacitors were usable in addition to batteries, then a faster re-charge rate MAY be possible, but: 1) Is anyone doing that or planning that? 2) Would that rate beat a liquid-fuel refueling rate (or compressed gas, like H2, for experimental vehicles)? ----------------------------------------
          Bernie Kressner
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Bernie Kressner
          Hi JW - - - Correct me if I have misunderstood, but I think you're making my point: the car itself is not viewed as having its own integrity and identity in EV endurance racing. And that's a change of concept. BTW: I can't find the Wikipedia article you referenced that discusses "Pit stop will involve a change of car: when the battery runs out, the driver will make a pit stop, then will run 100 metres to climb into a recharged car. Races are planned to be 45 minutes in length." Can you provide the link? Thanks. I should ask: if the races you mentioned are to be 45 minutes in length with a car change, how many cars would they have change for the "24 Hours of LeMans"? (^_^) -----------------------
          Dave D
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Bernie Kressner
          I meant to say "They could use supercaps"
      Dave D
      • 11 Months Ago
      It will be interesting to see how hard these cars are to drive. The F1 drivers are having problems because the 2014 regs allow twice the power from the KERS unit and it's providing so much power coming out of the curves that they have to have traction control to keep the tires from breaking loose. These things have twice the electric power of the F1 system so it will be interesting to see what how they drive.
      tom
      • 11 Months Ago
      If they need another pilot...I would be happy to volunteer!
      Bernie Kressner
      • 11 Months Ago
      It's disgusting. It's antiseptic. It's clinical. It's silent. It's bad. -------------------
      Trent
      • 11 Months Ago
      Where is Schumacher?
      billhd4
      • 11 Months Ago
      This would be a good series for Danica to disappear into.
        citroen_2cv
        • 11 Months Ago
        @billhd4
        I would love to see her there, specially if she does the PR photos ( that Michel In the pic reminds me my ex, brr).
      Captain Stu
      • 11 Months Ago
      They're going to have to put deer whistles on those things to hear them coming.
      _M7_
      • 11 Months Ago
      I dont know if this is cool or just the fact who "unsucesfull" f1 drivers were hired to make it stand up
      Fisherman
      • 11 Months Ago
      It would be very interesting to hear what F-1 Bernie Ecclestone has to say about formula E-racing or anyone of the top 10 F-1 drivers.
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