Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Formula E Championship on the Line as Electric Cars Take over City Streets

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Formula E Championship on the Line as Electric Cars Take over City Streets

Article excerpt

Motor racing goes electric in Formula E

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MONTREAL - It's time to see if all the fuss and bother created by the inaugural Hydro-Quebec Montreal ePrix electric car race was worth it.

The final two races of the Formula E season are set for Saturday and Sunday on a street course though the eastern end of downtown. It drew complaints over blocked access to homes and businesses in a city that already has more than its share of roads clogged by construction sites and sewer repairs.

Now racing will take over as former Formula One driver Sebastien Buemi tries to secure a second straight championship for himself and the e.dam Renault team. The Swiss driver has won six of his eight races this season and holds a 10-point lead over Lucas Di Grassi of the Audi Abt squad despite missing a pair of events two weeks ago in New York.

And while residents may fume about fencing and race barriers, the drivers were thrilled with the hilly 2.75-kilometre, 14-turn street circuit.

"It's probably one of the best tracks in Formula E history so I think everyone is pleased, " said Di Grassi, who won the inaugural electric race in Beijing in 2014.

"It looks like the best one," said Felix Rosenqvist, the Swedish driver for the India-based Mahindra team. "It looks fantastic with the elevation as well because most tracks we have are completely flat, but this one is very up and down.

"Credit to the organizers for this one."

People irked by the noise of the Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in June will be relieved that E-cars, which sound like a swarm of insects, make half as much noise as the 130 decibels produced by roaring F1 vehicles.

Formula E was started by FIA, the world governing body for motor sports, to get in on the growing interest in emissions-free vehicles. The series draws a tiny fraction of the interest and investment of F1 but is seen as the future of racing and gets better and more competitive each year.

This week two of the world's top sports-car makers, Mercedes and Porsche, announced they will join Formula E in 2019. Other leading brands are expected to follow.

"We now have more huge manufacturers than any other form of motorsport," said Virgin Racing driver Sam Bird, who swept the two New York races. …

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