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Chinese team joins 2014 Formula E championship

Updated at: 02/27/2013 12:38 PM
By JEROME PUGMIRE

(AP) PARIS - Team China Racing is the second team to sign up for next year’s environmentally friendly Formula E championship, which will feature zero-emission cars racing in 10 cities around the world.

China Racing was officially proposed to motor sport’s governing body as one of the 10 teams taking part. British-based Drayson Racing was the first team to sign up, while Rio de Janeiro and Rome are the first two cities to commit to hosting a race.

"The Formula E championship with single-seater cars is a FIA championship of the future. The future is not so far away," the president of auto racing’s governing body, Jean Todt, said during a presentation in Paris on Wednesday. "In a few days we will have the opportunity of presenting the calendar, and I am sure we will have some nice surprises."

The championship, scheduled to begin in May 2014, features cars powered exclusively by electricity. Races will be held in the streets of major cities over a course of about 1.8 miles, and cars will travel at a maximum speed of 135 mph.

"It is very rewarding for the FIA and for myself as president to see all the attraction it is creating, at the level of the cities, the teams, the competitors, the drivers," Todt said at the FIA’s Paris headquarters. "I would say all the ingredients are there to prepare a very strong championship. Times are changing, and it is very important for the FIA to have a vision of the future ... electric cars in cities."

The championship is based on 10 teams and 20 drivers in evening races.

China will host a race, although the city has not yet been chosen.

"China has enormous potential for the expansion of electric vehicles as a tool to fight pollution in cities," race promoter Alejandro Agag said. "We think the FIA Formula E Championship can be a powerful tool to make electric cars popular with the Chinese public, particularly the younger generations."

The target audience for the races is aged from 12-25, with a view to making them more eager to drive electric cars.

Each team has two drivers and four cars.

Drivers switch cars during the race, returning to the original car once it has been recharged. A car battery contains three 200-cell units and, at top speed, a battery lasts up to 25 minutes, making for a race time of about one hour.

Unlike in Formula One, where mechanics typically change tires in lightning quick times, the pit stops in electric racing are only to change cars. The driver enters the pits, runs 100 meters and jumps into the new, freshly charged car.

China’s city will be chosen next week.

"We will bring a lot of Chinese fans," Steven Lu, the chief executive of Team China racing said. "Big cities like Beijing and Shanghai are all excited."

Prize money totals $5.2 million for the winning teams, about $523,000 per race, and a $2.6 million prize for the season’s best driver.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)