THE UNIVERSE has a funny way of keeping itself balanced. Yesterday the rally-driving YouTube star Ken Block released the ninth instalment of his fire-spitting, tyre-shredding, carbon-spewing Gymkhana video series. Today the guys at the all-electric Formula E racing series have posted a film calling for us all to drive electric and save the planet.
Meeting Block’s yin head-on with eco-friendly yang is Lucas di Grassi, a former Formula One driver who was runner-up in the 2015-16 Formula E series. The Brazilian was flown with his car to the Arctic circle to make a set of short films that will, the organisers hope, draw the world’s attention to the “escalating threat posed by the melting of the ice caps to global sea levels”.
The Formula E championship, which is backed by the FIA, motor sport’s governing body, kicked off in 2014 as the first fully electric single-seater racing series. Ten teams and 20 drivers go wheel to wheel in 12 cities across five continents, including Hong Kong, Marrakesh, Buenos Aires, Monaco, Paris, Montreal and New York.
Until this year there was a London ePrix too, but after a long-running campaign by the Battersea Park Action Group, organisers decided not to come back to Britain next year. The protesters had argued that the race harmed the environment and caused weekend-long disruption to the area, leaving locals “deprived of the tranquillity of this urban oasis”.
With London out of the picture, New York will host the race weekend that is the Formula E finale, with a double header on July 29-30. This series, the third, gets under way on October 9 in Hong Kong.
The activists were deaf to Formula E’s claims that the event showcases the electric car as a key part of a more sustainable future, with a “vital role in tackling climate change” and reducing inner-city pollution. Technology and components from the car used in the racing series will no doubt filter down to mass-market vehicles.
Such quibbles seem miles away when you watch di Grassi and his electric racer tackling the ice cap in the spectacular Arctic setting of northern Greenland.