Racing in Formula E is still frantic and its latest venue was picturesque but is that missing the point of its inaugural season?
A question to the many residents of smog-choked North India as well as those in the other most densely populated urban areas of the country; you smell something funny?
Most likely it’s a persistently hanging cloud of noxious gases that oozes through the spaces between many buildings. This will be particularly apparent to residents of Delhi and other areas that find themselves in the middle of a cold spell that only exacerbates the nagging pollution. Any one of these seems like a better place to host a round of the all-electric and ‘green’ FIA Formula E World Championship instead of racing on a temporary beachside circuit in sunny Punta del Este in Uruguay.
Well, maybe the ten Formula E teams and the racers who had about as close a view of a sunny beach and the South Atlantic Ocean as they could hope for. It is unlikely they would want to trade that for holding street races in metros like Delhi or Chandigarh in mid-December. In some ways racing in Punta del Este – arguably even Monaco - defeats the purpose of the championship to take its brand of electric and green racing to populated cities and letting the populace catch a glimpse of the future.
While Beijing - the venue for the season opening Formula E race - is notorious for its near insufferably polluted air, draconian measures like the ones imposed just for the 2008 Olympic Games and the more recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit allowed television viewers to see what has been termed ‘Apec blue’ skies.
Not that the participants of Formula E do not deserve to have a bit of fun – although they work with racing cars for a living already – but it would be a plus to the championship if it selected venues, at least for a demonstration, that would help it achieve its goals of popularizing alternatives to the internal combustion engine.
Fun for what it is
That being said, as far as the racing goes Formula E is a good addition to the world of global motorsport with the Punta del Este ePrix serving as a platform for former F1 champions Red Bull Racing’s latest discard, Jean-Eric Vergne to shine.
The 24-year-old Frenchman took pole in his debut outing and looked strong in the race despite the fan boost turning out to be a curse. He looked set for a win until a broken front-right suspension put him out of the running and allowed e.dams Renault’s Sebastien Buemi to lead China Racing’s Nelson Piquet Jr. and Lucas Di Grassi to the finish line.