The streets of Paris were transformed today into a world-class motor racing circuit with the arrival of the Formula E motor racing series. It was the first time Formula E had come to Paris and the event quickly sold out leaving many fans, tourists, and curious onlookers to crowd into publicly accessible viewing points to catch a glimpse of the speeding cars.
Formula E is world’s first fully-electric single-seater open-wheeled and open-cockpit motor racing championship. 10 teams race on temporary street circuits in cities around the world including Berlin, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and London. Race meetings are shorter than most motorsport events with practice, qualifying, and the race itself happening all in one day.
The track in Paris wound around the historic landmarks of the seventh arrondissement, close to the River Seine. Much of the course was on roads that are usually cobbled, but for the event, temporary re-usable asphalt had been laid.
Being a keen motorsport fan I was disappointed not to be able to get a ticket for the event. However, I decided to cycle down to the track and try my luck at getting in. Being somewhat determined and resourceful I did indeed manage to walk through the gates and join the excited crowds beside the track.
Unlike Formula One, the electric race cars make very little noise which is a little weird given the fact that the cars reach speeds of up to 225 km/h (140 mph).
The race today was won by Brazilian Lucas Di Grassi who won the first Formula E race after a spectacular crash between the leaders on the last corner of the last lap. French fans were pleased that a Frenchman, Jean-Eric Vergne, who grew up in the Parisian suburb of Pontoise, finished second while Swiss Sébastien Buemi took the final place on the podium.
Watch a 5 minute highlight summery of the Paris e-Prix on youtube.