Tag Archives: Electric cars

Drayson Racing Car

Formula E: The Future of Racing

Pippa Hough, Assistant Content Developer in our Contemporary Science team, explores the new Formula E racing series.

Last month, we invited engineers from the Power Electronics Group to the Science Museum to share their latest research with our visitors. They are working on wireless charging systems to power up electric car batteries, and with them came the Drayson Racer, the fastest lightweight electric car in the world. This beautiful, green piece of precision engineering is fast; it broke records at 205mph and can go 0 to 60 in 3 seconds.

This week super speedy cars, much like the Drayson racer, will take part in Formula E; the first ever fully electric racing series, starting off in Beijing. The cars in Formula E aren’t quite as fast as the one we had on display, but with top speeds of 140mph it will definitely be entertaining to watch.

Drayson Racer, the fasted lightweight electric car in the world. Credit: Science Museum

Drayson Racer, the fasted lightweight electric car in the world. Credit: Science Museum

There are a few aspects of the Formula E that make it, in my opinion, the best type of racing there is:

Car Swapping

One of the major issues of electric cars is battery life. The racing cars used in Formula E can’t be charged quick enough at the pit stops so the drivers swap to a fully charged car. Given it’s a race the drivers need to hop out and into the other car within a minute. I think it provides an bonus ‘obstacle course’ like challenge that petrol racing really lacks.

Exotic Locations

Yes Formula 1 has exotic location, but Formula E has raised the game. The races will be in the heart of some of the most stunning capital cities in the world. Starting in the Olympic park in Beijing the championship will travel round to 10 cities including Berlin, Buenos Aires, Miami, and finishing up in central London in June 2015.

Futuristic Sounding

Electric cars engines are virtually silent. There’ll be no need for ear plugs while watching and given the city centre locations the races won’t be bothering the neighbours as much as petrol racing might. The sound Formula E cars make when racing has been described as anything from eerie to futuristic. They’re so quiet the engineers have to be warned with an air horn before the car come into the pit stops so they can get out of the way in time.


There’s virtually no interaction with the drivers for fans of racing, especially compared to other sports. The drivers can’t hear you cheering, not until they’re no the podium and by that time your encouragements don’t make any difference. Not so in Formula E, you can vote for your favourite driver before the race. The three most popular driver’s get a ‘power boost’ for their cars in the last leg of race.

Formula E will drive innovation in electric cars that’ll quickly trickle down to their domestic counterparts. In the not too distant future the wireless charging system the Power Electronics Group showed our visitors could be in parking spots all over the country ready to charge your electric car.

You can find out more about Formula E by watching the video below.

The Viridity racing team

From school to the racetrack

Viridity, a team of young engineers from Newstead Wood School in Orpington, Kent are taking part in our High Performance festival this weekend. This guest blog post has been written by the Viridity team. 

We are Viridity, a team of young aspiring engineers from Newstead Wood School in Orpington, Kent. We have entered into the Greenpower Challenge, a competition for students with an interest in engineering. The challenge for participating teams is to design, build and race an electric car, in competition with other schools from all over the UK.

Newstead Wood School’s Team Viridity GRT

Newstead Wood School’s Team Viridity GRT

Our team is made up of students from years 10 to 12 (ages 14 to 17) with several team members currently studying for the Engineering Diploma. The team is supported by our link engineer, Peter Fagg, a mechanical engineer from National Rail. Through his support, Peter has encouraged many students at Newstead to get involved with engineering.

Various Greenpower race categories exist, each open to different age groups. We have opted to race in the Formula 24 category, which is open to students between the ages of 11 and 16. Formula 24 races are endurance races lasting four hours and require a minimum of five drivers. We are one of only two all-girl Formula 24 teams in the UK.

Heats take place at major motorsport venues around the country, with the best teams qualifying for the national final held in October each year at the Goodwood Motor Circuit. To date our car has raced at Bedford Autodrome, Castle Combe circuit, Dunsfold Park (home of the Top Gear test track) and Goodwood Motor Circuit.

Our first year of participating in the Greenpower Challenge was in 2011. At that year’s Formula 24 national final, we finished 19th out of a field of 75 cars – 179 teams nationally – and succeeded in attaining the “best newcomer” award.

Last year, we once again qualified for the national final, but suffered a punctured tyre which set us back in the race and resulted in our team finishing 47th. Such is the nature of motorsport.

Viridity GRT at Goodwood Motor Circuit, October 2012

Viridity GRT at Goodwood Motor Circuit, October 2012

Our aim this year is to make modifications to our existing car to improve its performance. If we are able to raise sufficient funding, we also hope to build a new car for entry into the Formula 24+ category of races.

Since its inception, our team has been reliant upon obtaining the support and sponsorship of local companies. As an example, Stephen James BMW, Ruxley have provided welding services for our team as our school lacks welding facilities. Other companies, such as RP Martin Brokers have generously supported us financially. For more information on our on our project, or to offer support, please click here