And you can hear something! It’s definitely a rumour that Formula E is silent. Futuristic sounds, as if from several jets simultaneously, reach the ears of the spectators. Even to us, who can look out over one of the many bends from a balcony in the VIP area while we cool off with drinks, fruit and gelato. Even though we’re in the shade, it’s still hot! It’s July and the temperature rises to a merciless 37 degrees. In the grandstands around the race track, all you can see are fans waving in time to the beat; the spectators there are not protected by a canopy. And yet, nobody wants to miss the racing.
At the invitation of Jaguar TSC Racing, I am attending the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship for the first time, specifically the Hankook Rome e-Prix in the Italian capital. It is the 14th race of the season. The race track also runs through the city. Circuito Cittadino dell’EUR is one of the longest circuits with 19 laps of 3.385 kilometres. The course winds around the Obelisco di Marconi against the backdrop of the legendary Colosseo Quadrato.
Drivers Mitch Evans and Sam Bird will face a number of challenges with their lightest and most powerful Jaguar I-Type 6 cars to date. Not only in terms of the track itself, in terms of waves, differences in altitude and uneven surfaces. The heat is also an absolute challenge for the sustainable racing machines, especially for their batteries.
Sustainability in formula racing? Jaguar is leading the way.
Yes, you read that right! Jaguar TSC Racing is starting its ninth season with a three-star eco-certificate from the FIA. It’s about much more than just driving electrically, sorry, racing intelligently. Formula E is completely different from Formula 1, and not just in terms of the sound and the lack of petrol smell. The fact that this racing flavour is completely absent today is more than convenient for most visitors in view of the merciless heat.
Naturally, the e-race cars are “fuelled” with electricity from renewable sources. Mountains of tyre corpses? Not here either. Only two sets of tyres per driver are allowed for the two races this weekend. The cars are made from recycled carbon fibres and their sexy wrapping is, of course, also recyclable. This environmentally friendly alternative, which is also used in the aerospace industry, has replaced conventional car paints without detracting from the look.
Yes, even a Race Stromer needs transmission oil. But here, too, Jaguar is ahead in terms of sustainability. From this year, reconditioned EV high-performance oils will be used.
Close to the excitement
Before qualifying, I was allowed to visit the pits and talk to the drivers. Two relaxed guys, who could just as easily have been models from a men’s lifestyle magazine, patiently answer the journalists’ questions, while the highly technical cars are busily being prepared for qualifying in the background. Both remember their first drive in an electric racing car. “It was unusual for me not to hear anything,” laughs New Zealander Evans, who previously raced in Formula 2, and Sam Bird was surprised at the advantages: “The fact that you can drive emission-free means we can organise races in the middle of cities all over the world.” City circuits are predestined for a sustainable racing future. With the so-called “Race to ispire” mission, Jaguar wants to inspire the future generation and set positive impulses at the respective race venues. It is also intended to initiate a new generation of engineers and motorsport professionals.
Formula E drivers are more than just racers – they are intelligent sports drivers and eMobility ambassadors. They practice race energy management and ideal driving optimisation in order to use the available energy in the best possible way. The Jaguar I-Type 6 can reach a top speed of 320 km/h with 350 kW (475 hp) of power. And thanks to a second electric motor on the front axle and the electric drive unit on the rear axle, the green racing car recovers twice as much energy as its predecessor through recuperation.
Good conditions for a promising qualifying session. The first two places are occupied by Mitch and Sam. Not surprisingly, Jaguar TSC Racing has been around for seven years. In addition to experience, valuable data could also be collected and analysed. Formula E enables the testing and development of new electric vehicle technologies in a high-performance environment. The e-Grand Prix is also a test bed for Jaguar’s “Race to Innovate” mission, in which the findings from “Race to Road” and “Road to Race” will help to shape an electric future.
Now it’s time to get down to business, the race starts. Bird passes Evans on the opening lap and gives his team-mate an energy-saving slipstream. Both Jaguars are in front and continue to mix it at the front until a horrific mass crash involving six cars occurs. Sam Bird’s car is completely destroyed, but fortunately the driver is not injured. Mitch Evans, on the other hand, retains first place – right to the finish. What an exciting and thrilling race!
Winner! Jaguar driver Mitch Evans maintained the lead right to the end
On the second day of the race, team-mate Sam Bird finished third on the podium, making it easier for him to overcome his spectacular retirement on Saturday
But the day is not over yet. A shuttle is already waiting for me outside. It’s an I-Pace, of course, the first fully electric SUV from Jaguar. I am chauffeured back to my hotel. The well-known luxury hotel chain “Six Senses” had only recently opened its first city hotel, just a ten-minute walk from the Fonte di Trevi. This marvellous hotel was chosen carefully by Jaguar, as it also has high standards when it comes to sustainability. I had made an appointment in the spa area to inspire my six senses. But we only have five, the mind would now admonish! No, we have more. The logo of the luxury temple gives it away: it has its origins in the blessing signs that Buddhist monks make with their fingers on auspicious occasions in Thailand. The three primary senses of sight, hearing and touch are located at the base of the pyramid. The second level represents the harmony of taste and smell. The top crowns the sixth sense – intuition. As I lie relaxed in the relaxation room, I process the impressions and new insights of the day. It’s fascinating to realise that e-racing can contribute to a better mobile future on our roads. “Practice, the master of all things” – the famous Emperor Augustus already knew this wisdom more than 2000 years ago and its meaning will probably remain eternal, like the city of Rome itself.
Text: Mirella Sidro
Images: Jaguar Racing/LAT Images
Image hotel: Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas