Future of sustainable technology on show as ABB Formula E drives progress in Rome

Future of sustainable technology on show as ABB Formula E drives progress in Rome

Zero-carbon racing an ideal fit for urban environment and a preview of e-mobility future.

When the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship arrives in Rome for the next two rounds of the all-electric race series on April 9-10, the teams will be armed with a tool that was in short supply for 2021: track data. Last season’s expansion of the circuit to a 3.4-kilometer (2.1 mile) lap for the 19-turn layout brought thrilling competition, but it also had teams scrambling to gather the critical full-course data needed to set up the cars and plan race strategy.

That handicap has been largely overcome in Season 8, as team engineers have analyzed the digital records acquired at the Circuito Cittadino dell'EUR and applied the learnings to their car set-ups and simulator software. The street course, routed through the Italian capital’s Esposizione Universale Roma district, also fulfills a principal goal of ABB Formula E site selection: demonstrating that a motorsport championship boasting net-zero carbon emissions can be compatible with the public spaces of an urban center.

For ABB Ambassador Lucas Di Grassi, the return to Rome is an opportunity to avenge the disappointment of last year, when he did not finish either round – even after leading the first race, only to drop out in the closing laps with a mechanical failure. Despite that misfortune, Di Grassi, who drives for ROKiT Venturi Racing, says the Rome course is a favorite, on account of its imperfect surfaces and a variety of corner speeds that combine to offer a challenge akin to those of classic racing circuits.

Speaking with the racing publication Autosport, Di Grassi, the Season 3 series champion, said that the Rome circuit is “probably the most difficult track we have in the world championship.” Noting the various levels of traction in different sections, along with elevation changes and fast, sweeping corners, he likens the Rome course to a legacy racetrack where fast laps are much harder to achieve than they are on a modern, purpose-built course. One unknown facing all teams this year: the grip level offered by resurfacing done to much of the track’s pavement. 

Di Grassi’s quest for his first win of the season will find the Brazilian battling for position with 21 competitors contesting a 16-race campaign for the title of World Champion. The TAG Heuer Porsche team, an ABB partner, comes to Rome with the momentum of a 1-2 finish at the Mexico City race in February. Edoardo Mortara of ROKiT Venturi Racing leads the points standing, with Nyck de Vries, an ABB Ambassador and the Season 7 World Champion driving for the Mercedes-EQ team, just five points adrift in second place.

For Italy, the Rome race weekend signals progress in moves to restore normal activity, thanks to the relaxing of restrictions imposed during the global pandemic. While strict Covid protocols will be in effect for participants and distancing will be enforced for display areas, spectator viewing areas will allow entry to 100 percent of capacity.

Siting an ABB Formula E race in Italy, birthplace of so many unforgettable sports cars and the host of legendary races, is a logical extension of the country’s growing adoption of e-mobility. Sales of electric cars more than doubled in 2021, outpacing both the country’s overall increase in vehicle sales as well as EV growth for the broader European market.

Italy is also a focal point of ABB’s initiatives in transforming the world’s vehicle fleet to zero-emissions operation. ABB manufactures its industry-leading Terra series DC fast chargers, which are supported by ABB Ability™ digital networking capabilities, in the Tuscany region, north of Rome. The world’s leader in high-power chargers for EVs, ABB’s portfolio of chargers includes domestic systems, units for installation at public sites and stations dedicated to supporting urban public transport.

Next stop on the calendar for the ABB Formula E Championship is Monaco on April 30. The famed Monte Carlo street circuit has provided some of the best competition the series has yet seen, all set against picturesque vistas of the Mediterranean harbor location. Ahead of the race, the Gen 3 Formula E car – more powerful, faster and aligned to Life Cycle Thinking – will be revealed in anticipation of its competition debut later in 2022.

When Season 9 gets underway, ABB’s role in the series will expand as it takes on the duties of Official Charging Supplier for ABB Formula E. Ongoing technology support of the series also includes the deployment of a purpose-built ABB Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) in the Formula E TV compound to ensure that broadcasts will not go off air in the event of a grid power failure at a race circuit.


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