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Formula E hits the track at Donington Park

PUBLISHED: 10:27 12 September 2014 | UPDATED: 10:27 12 September 2014

Former British F3 champion Mike Conway, now a big name in the US, races for Dragon Racing

Former British F3 champion Mike Conway, now a big name in the US, races for Dragon Racing

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Testing for the new FIA Formula E cars began at Donington Park with the first of five sessions in July

Christopher Tate: 'Very proud to bring Formula E to Donington'Christopher Tate: 'Very proud to bring Formula E to Donington'

Testing for the new FIA Formula E cars began at Donington Park with the first of five sessions on 3rd July. The world’s first all-electric series has established its base at Donington where new state-of-the-art headquarters and workshops have been built for the ten teams in a three-year deal. All testing takes place at Donington while races are scheduled for major cities around the world. ‘We expect this Championship to become the framework for research and development around the electric car, a key element for the future of our cities,’ said Spanish businessman Alejandro Agag, the man behind the series.

The early sessions concerned teams and drivers learning about their cars. Daniel Abt, of the Audi Sport Abt team, set the fastest lap of 1 minute 37.2 seconds on the opening morning on a course that included a temporary chicane after the Old Hairpin turn, replicating the kind of chicane encountered on street courses, although it was later removed after a number of collisions. Ex-F1 driver e-Dams Sebastian Buemi recorded 1:35.475 in the afternoon session. ‘I didn’t have any problems with the car,’ said Buemi, ‘and that meant we were able to learn quite a lot about it.’

The series has attracted a number of other F1 drivers, including Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok with Mahindra Racing, Jamie Alguersauri (Virgin Racing), Nick Heidfeld (Venturi) and Jarno Trulli, a veteran of 265 F1 starts, who heads his own team. Guest driving for Andretti Autosport at the first session was former Indycar star Gil de Ferran. Four-time F1 World Champion Alain Prost has been involved in test development work on the prototype car, and is principal of the e-Dams team.

The first race is in Beijing on 13th September, where organisers hope to underline the series’ green credentials. Race fans at the Donington tests were also keen to hear what the new cars sounded like. They are only slightly noisier than a road car as the noise comes from the gearbox and tyres and track side conversation is no problem – you can hear the commentary too! Rounds of the 10-meet series follow in Asia and South America this winter, before the US and Europe in spring. The final event of the inaugural season will be in London’s Battersea Park on 27th June 2015. Each day-long event features qualifying and two one-hour races.

Daniel Abt was quickest off the blocks with the fastest lap in the opening test sessionDaniel Abt was quickest off the blocks with the fastest lap in the opening test session

Donington Park Managing Director Christopher Tate said, ‘We’re very proud of the fact that we have been able to bring Formula E to Donington Park. It is not only testament to the great motoring heritage we have here, but also a great boost for the local economy and the benefits of this arrival will be huge. Motorsport is now so integral to the success of the local area and you only have to look around to see how immensely popular the arrival of Formula E has been already.’

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