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Formula E: Mostly A Whimper, Ends With A Bang

Nick Heidfeld was lucky to walk away from this one.
The inaugural Formula E race in Beijing today may not have been hugely exciting in itself, but it certainly ended with a bang, after Nico Prost rammed Nick Heidfeld off the road at the last corner of the last lap, flipping the German's car into a barrel roll from which he was lucky to escape with serious injury.

The two had been battling for the lead and down the straight into the final corner Heidfeld executed a text book passing move. As the German moved alongside Prost under braking swerved left across the track causing a wheel to wheel collision which broke the front suspension of both cars, sending Heidfeld across the artificial kerb and flipping the car into a cockpit first impact with the barrier and safety fence. These sorts of collisions are all too frequently fatal and as the Dallara dropped to the track upside down there was some concern for Heidfeld's condition.

Not from Prost however, who, despite rolling to a stop a few metres from Heidfeld's car made no attempt to go and assist his rival. Fortunately Heidfeld was extracted from the car by the marshals with no injuries.

Through the carnage came Lucas di Grassi, to etch his name on history as the first winner of a Formula E race. Shame that the race itself and the victory will be largely forgotten in the controversy at the end. Prost initially tried to put the blame on Heidfeld - possibly the most ridiculous thing I've heard come from a racing driver's mouth in forty years - before ultimately accepting the blame completely and apologising to Heidfeld. The German, ever the gentleman accepted the apology in good grace and cordial relations between the two will be resumed when they share a car in the World Endurance Championship race in Austin.

For those interested in the advances in electric vehicles the race was a limited success. As predicted, having to change cars halfway through the race was as ridiculous as it sounds. Even on a course specifically designed to ease demands on the battery pack and promote regenerative charging not being able to go the full distance on one charge isn't something that's going to ease the buying public's range anxiety worries when it comes to buying an EV.

As a first step in an evolution which I believe will lead to a replacement for F1 though, it was a positive and enjoyable first race.


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