Luca is nine years old. He came to the event from Imola, in the Romagna region, the home of Italian motor racing, because he wanted to have a close look at the car of the future. Arianna is 11, and had never sat in a race car. Alessio, only 23 months old, was swamped inside the cockpit, but when he has his driving licence his first car is sure to be an e-vehicle.
They’ll remember this Saturday 13 April, in Rome, for a long time – first waiting in line with hundreds of kids like them for a photo in the Formula E racing car at the Enel X stand in the E-Village, then leaping to their feet with the 35,000 spectators in the stands at the seventh ABB FIA Formula E world championship Grand Prix. For the second year in a row EUR, an area of Rome best known for its rationalist architecture, was transformed into the setting for an "electric", unusual and unforgettable spectacle.
Technology that inspires emotions
Formula E has changed over the past year, especially with regard to the technology that has made the race more exciting. Our Group has played an important role in this as Official Power Partner and, alongside Enel X, as Official Smart Charging Partner. The exciting new feature is the innovative charging technology developed to enable the electric race cars to complete the race – 45 minutes plus a lap – on a single charge. This means that drivers no longer have to stop for the car swap which was necessary in previous editions. This technological leap was made possible by latest-generation batteries fuelled by JuicePump Formula E Edition superchargers which, with a capacity of 80 kW and weighing less than 200 kg, can be transported from one circuit to another with ease.
“Enel is proud to be an integral part of this fantastic competition and to provide the Enel X charging solutions for the Formula E e-vehicles,” said Enel CEO and General Manager Francesco Starace. "The events here show that the technology is mature and that sustainable mobility is now even closer.”
The mobility lab
That’s what Formula E is – a test bench for the mobility of the future. A laboratory for testing new technologies that move from the race track to the roads – more powerful batteries, lighter bodywork and more powerful charging systems. This was clear around the circuit, as on 13 April the EUR district was transformed into a city of tomorrow. “For us, Formula E is a way of bringing cutting-edge technology to the largest possible number of people,” said Roberto Deambrogio, Enel’s Director of Communications.
A show for all, and not just the VIPs who filled the stands, from Scottish Star Wars actor Ewan McGregor to the former captain of the Roma football team, Francesco Totti. An audience of young people and their families were also given a close-up experience of new, sustainable, urban mobility solutions like Bird’s electric scooter sharing system, which will be coming to Italy soon, thanks to an agreement between Enel X and Bird Rides Italy. Visitors were also able to “use” e-car charging technology on virtual reality headsets at the Enel X stand. This was at the Nuvola conference centre, which was designed by Massimiliano Fuksas. Here visitors could race radio-controlled model cars on a 5x5 metre track. This proved to be an irresistible attraction for everyone, including former F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella: “I’m proud of Rome, this E-Prix is an extremely important event for the city: Formula E is becoming the future, thanks to an incredible technological leap.”
Formula E looks to the future
The race certainly lived up to expectations. At four in the afternoon the 22 racing cars leapt forward with their distinctive hissing sound from via Cristoforo Colombo, hurtling away at 220 kilometres an hour along the 2.8 kilometre track, around the obelisk dedicated to Guglielmo Marconi, through the Parco del Ninfeo, past the “Colosseo Quadrato” (“Square Colosseum”) and the Nuvola. The race was won by New Zealander Mitch Evans, driving for the Jaguar team. He is the seventh different winner of the event this season (out of a total of seven races so far), making the championship even more thrilling. The Rome race had it all – collisions, overtaking, rain and safety cars.
This also explains the growing interest shown by sponsors, the media (35 million TV spectators linked from 90 countries for the Rome contest) and car manufacturers. Next season the eight current car companies will be joined by Mercedes and Porsche.
The idea of an electric, and therefore green, race was inspired by notes scribbled on a paper napkin by Alejandro Agag, the Spanish founder and president of Formula E. In the space of a few years it has grown to become an event rivalling that other racing Circus, and looks set for even greater success, as it is always ready to introduce new features that car racing purists may look down on but appeal greatly to youngsters. Take, for example, Attack Mode, which enables drivers to boost their engine’s power by 25 kW (providing a total of 225 kW) on some stretches of the track, and Fanboost, an online platform where the general public vote for their favourite driver on the social networks, thereby giving the top five extra power for their vehicles.
“A lot more education about e-mobility is needed, but Formula E shows us that people are beginning to look at the races through different eyes. They want to know more about it,” says Francesco Venturini, CEO of Enel X.
Luca, Arianna and Alessio provide confirmation – the Rome Grand Prix didn’t disappoint them.