Grand Prix star Jarno Trulli was impressed with the electric Formula E car after a recent test drive at the La Ferté Gaucher circuit in France.
Trulli, who is one of the most experienced drivers in the history of F1, having competed in 256 Grand Prix and ranking third on the all-time entry list, spent a whole day at the wheel of the Spark-Renault SRT_01E, using the final 200 kw (270 bhp) battery that will be used in the race.
“From inside the cockpit it feels like driving a proper Formula One car, the sound is different but you still hear the sound of the electrical engine and gearbox, so in terms of feeling it’s perfect for a racing driver,” said Trulli. “Maybe from the outside it seems different but inside you don’t notice it. So far I have enjoyed it because it’s a nice car to drive. I expected something different and it certainly is, but having a feeling of a racing car was the most important thing. I have been racing for 30 years, 15 in Formula One, so I have seen more or less everything. I anticipated finding something unlike anything else, but it gave me the same feeling of the old days.”
The SRT_01E will compete in the inaugural FIA Formula E Championship beginning in September. The first cars will be delivered to teams at the Championship’s new Donington Park headquarters in mid-May.
“There is a lot of potential in this series and it’s going to be fun because you are going to be driving in street circuits bringing the cities into the fans’ house,” added Trulli.
Some, however, have been making noise about a lack of noise. Formula One’s new hybrid engines have been criticized by fans, and even by F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, for being too quiet.
Four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel is one of those who fears there’s something missing from Formula E. “I think people come here to feel Formula One and there is not much to feel when a car goes by and you don’t even hear anything but the wind,” Vettel said at last October’s Indian Grand Prix.
Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag insisted fans will love the electric cars’ sound. “We think the sound of Formula E is going to be a big surprise for everyone. The sound that comes out is completely futuristic, new, different,” he told the Malay Mail. “Next week we will put video online of the car with the sound and I think this will be quite a shock, the sound that these Formula E cars are making… it’s actually quite loud. It sounds more like a jet, a fighter jet. Or like the Podracer in Star Wars. So that’s the kind of feel we want to give to the fans, much more futuristic. It doesn’t sound at all like a combustion engine.”