Next Formula E racing: India on radar

New Delhi, June 30 (IANS) The next big thing in world motor sports is here: the FIA Formula E Championship electric-car racing series is looking at India as a destination by 2015.

The single seater series will zoom off in September next year and the circuit will follow the Formula 1 route of all major cities of the world.

Many motor racing championships have unsuccessfully tried to cash in on the F1 reach, but Alejandro Agag, a popular figure in the racing world and Formula E CEO, feels secure about his latest venture.

"The championship is shaping well and it is here to stay simply because there is space for sustainable and eco-friendly motor racing," Agag told IANS in an interview from Goodwood, England.

The touch of green is expected to make the series more attractive since the races will be held on the main streets of London, Rome, Miami, Rio de Janeiro and Los Angeles among others, leaving environmentalists with little to complain about.

The Asian races have been scheduled in Malaysia (Putrajaya) and Thailand (Bangkok) in the first year. India, which is already on the F1 calendar, could get the opportunity as early as 2015.

"The schedule for 2014 seems packed, but we would love to have a race in India from the second season," said the Spanish-born businessman, who owns GP2 team Barwa Addax.

"I have not identified the locations as yet. I hope to visit India soon and explore venues. I am not too sure about Mumbai, but Delhi and Bangalore are on our radar. For a street circuit, the roads need to be pretty wide and has to meet requirement of a Grade 3 circuit," said Agag.

What about an Indian presence on the grid?

"I have had positive chats with some of the Indians who are interested in owning a team. I can't tell you more about them yet but there is a strong possibility of an Indian team soon. As for the drivers, Karun (Chandhok) and Narain (Karthikeyan) are the kind we would like to have in the championship."

Drivers from F1, GP2 and IndyCar are expected to form the teams' line-up. Ten teams of two drivers each will be seen in the inaugural season. "The championship requires highly skilled drivers as street circuits are slippery and tyres have low grip," said Agag.

It is likely to be a single make series initially and the battery powered cars has been built by Spark Racing Technology (SRT) with technological support coming from the likes of McLaren, Williams and Renault. Italian firm Dallara will supply the chassis and Michelin tyres will be used.

"As of now, FIA has only certified SRT cars. But we would welcome the entry of more manufacturers and constructors in year two," said the former politician.

The machines may not produce the deafening sound of the F1 cars but is capable of escalating from 0 to 100 kph in less than three seconds, touching a maximum speed of 225 kph, importantly with zero emissions.

Though there is some time before the first race is flagged off, many see Formula E a potential match to F1 in popularity stakes.

Agag, however, has a different take.

"There is no competition with Formula 1. It is a much bigger series. In fact, I would like to call Formula E a child of F1. It has the best technology and we are happy to be using some of that."

What does the championship aim to achieve?

"The cost of electric racing is low and the emissions are zero. With organising races in big cities of the world, people can know more about these machines and hopefully switch to electric cars to do their bit for the environment."

(Bharat Sharma can be contacted at bharat.s@ians.in)

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