ABB Formula E maps fresh course through the streets of Rome

ABB Formula E maps fresh course through the streets of Rome

Two races in the Italian capital will show the continued progress of e-mobility technology in one of the world’s automotive powerhouses.

The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship brings its high-energy brand of zero-pollution motorsport to Rome on April 10 and 11 for the third and fourth rounds of the 2020/21 season. A revised course layout this year extends the lap distance to 3.4 kilometers (2.1 miles) for the 19-turn street circuit, elevating the intensity of the competition and pushing the performance of the fully electric racecars on longer straights and arcing corners.

At the same time, the new course through the city’s EUR district is designed to coordinate with the surrounding public areas of the Italian capital, a hallmark of Formula E’s mission to showcase the scintillating performance of clean, sustainable transportation in major population centers.

Theodor Swedjemark, Chief Communications and Sustainability Officer, said: “At ABB, our leading technologies play a key role in enabling sustainable mobility in all forms of public and private transport that ultimately support a low-carbon society. Through the ABB Formula E partnership, we can not only revolutionize the technology needed to drive e-mobility but also excite younger generations, who live in a digital world and care for the environment.”

With the series’ arrival in Rome for a third time, ABB will be donating Terra 124 DC fast chargers to the city as part of its continued commitment to building a more sustainable future. These chargers are capable of replenishing the batteries of two vehicles simultaneously and are fully compatible with current and future EVs.

As the locus of motorsport passion for as long as auto racing has existed, Italy is an ideal host for the ABB Formula E series. The country’s status as a center of e-mobility growth in Europe became apparent in 2020, as sales of battery EVs tripled. This should come as no surprise: Italy’s longstanding role as a science and technology incubator stretches back to the work of figures like Alessandro Volta, credited with the invention of the battery, and Guglielmo Marconi, a pioneer of radio communications.

Likewise, the close relationship of ABB and Italy serves as a linchpin in the growing adoption of electric vehicles and the effort to convert the world’s vehicle fleet to zero-emissions operation. ABB manufactures its industry-leading Terra series fast chargers, which are supported by ABB Ability™ digital networking capabilities, in Terranuova Bracciolini, near Florence. Reinforcing its commitment to Italy, a new facility under construction in San Giovanni Valdarno will become the production site for ABB's entire portfolio of DC fast chargers, including domestic systems, units for installation at public sites and stations dedicated to supporting urban public transport.

The added manufacturing capability will itself take a role in Formula E as ABB’s commitment to e-mobility and the mission of the championship expands its reach. When Season 9 gets underway two years from now, ABB’s expertise will be seen at the racetrack, in its role as Official Charging Supplier for the Gen 3 racecars. The company, which entered the e-mobility market in 2010, has sold more than 400,000 electric vehicle chargers across more than 85 markets; more than 20,000 DC fast chargers and 380,000 AC chargers, including those sold through Chargedot.

ABB’s engagement with Italy’s transportation and industrial sectors takes many forms, reaching well beyond chargers.

  • The quest to bolster sustainability led to projects like electrifying a 28-passenger ship, the Aurora, used for tourist transport in inland waters in Tuscany;
  • At three ABB Italy manufacturing sites that produce circuit breakers, a program is underway to advance the facilities to a structured Digital Factory status;
  • In a factory where 22 million packages of tomato passata are produced each year, ABB's Intelligent Distribution controls the electrical distribution to enable remote control of systems;
  • Other initiatives include a Robotics Tech Center and Global Solution Center; a partnership with Enel that aims to create a sustainable electricity grid; and the integration of energy recovery systems in stamping presses for a metals processor.

The Rome race follows February’s season opener in the historic surroundings of Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, where the action took place after dark for the first time in the history of ABB Formula E. Lighting for the course was provided by high-efficiency LED units powered by rigs running on biofuel.

Fans who watched the race broadcasts witnessed the effectiveness of Formula E’s comprehensive safety provisions, as two spectacular crashes resulted in no serious injuries. Nyck de Vries of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team and Sam Bird of Jaguar Racing each took a win in the desert setting. Coming into the Rome races, de Vries holds the lead in drivers’ points, followed by Bird, with Robin Frijns of Envision Virgin Racing lying third.

Veterans among the 24 drivers will not have the advantage in track familiarity for the Rome races in Season 7 due to the reconfigured course. Fresh paving, along with a route that now approaches the iconic Coliseum Square and Piazzale Marconi, will have the drivers eager for all the practice time they can get. And there was no early peek to be gained this year by participating in the six-race virtual series, Formula E: Accelerate, as that esports competition kept the Rome track layout of previous seasons.

Considered a favorite race location among the drivers in prior years, the course changes are likely to deepen their attachment.

Two weeks after the Rome E-Prix, the series moves to Valencia, Spain, for another double race weekend on April 24-25. The first race for ABB Formula E at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo – and the first time the championship will be contested in Spain – will nevertheless be a familiar site for the teams, as Valencia is the location for pre-season testing for the entire 24-car grid.

The course layout is specifically configured for the Formula E cars, adapting a combination of alternate track sections at the complex. Like all of the races staged during the pandemic, the two-day event will follow strict COVID-19 protocols, created under the guidance of the relevant authorities, to enable a safe and responsible meeting.

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