There are still a few weeks left until the 2015 Formula 1 seasons starts. Until then, there’s a brand new FIA Formula series where it’s all down to the drivers and where engine sound really isn’t an issue: Formula E.

Formula E, like Formula 1, is all about open-wheel, open cockpit racing. The Formula E series also travels around the world, visiting major cities like Beijing and London, and famous venues like the Monaco street circuit. But that’s pretty much where the similarities end and the differences begin. Unlike Formula 1, all the Formula E drivers have to use the same car design, the Spark-Renault SRT_01E. This keeps the cost for the teams low, since they don’t have to use billions of dollars on car R&D. Also, it makes the driver a lot more important than in Formula 1: Since all the Formula E drivers have more or less the same car, a Formula E race is a test of the drivers’ skills, not a test of the team’s R&D department. In Formula 1, a crappy driver can perform miracles in a great car, in Formula E, not so much. This is one of the reasons why I’ve started to favor other racing series where the vehicles are made from the same mold, like the GP2 series, over Formula 1.

But where Formula E really stands out from Formula 1 – and every other professional racing series – is the Spark-Renault SRT_01E’s engine. It’s electric (something you might have already gathered from the “E” in “Formula E”.) The old farts running FIA have actually taken a few steps towards the future, and launched a racing series with electric cars.

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