Positive charge: Formula E returns to Red Hook for third year

Winner winner: Jean-Éric Vergne for the Chinese team DS Techeetah won the championship for the second time, becoming the series’s first double champ.
Photo by Erica Price

This race was electric!

A fandom of international speed freaks descended on Red Hook for the neighborhood’s third Formula E event, a weekend-spanning thrill fest and capstone to the world’s premier battery-powered racing championship.

Nearly two dozen drivers from 11 different teams maneuvered their emission-free, whisper-quiet racers through lap after lap of a 1.5 mile track that snaked through the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and Pier 11 on Saturday and Sunday.

One out-of-towner traveled from the country’s bucolic Nutmeg State for a chance to take in the high-velocity action as a volunteer track marshall, helping to ensure the event runs smoothly in exchange for the best seats on the track.

“It’s almost like they can go from stand still to full speed in a split-second,” said Desiree Faulkner, who made the trek from Connecticut for the weekend with her husband and a friend. “You can’t get any closer unless you’re a driver.”

The double-bill racing event wraps up Formula E’s 2018/19 season, which saw drivers duke it out at such international locales as Hong Kong, Monaco, Marrakesh, Rome, and Paris.

Driver Robin Frijns of the Netherlands won the final race for Britain’s Envision Virgin Racing team, while Jean-Éric Vergne scored more points and came out on top of the overall championship for China’s DS Techeetah team.

The Frenchman’s victory on Sunday follows his first-place trophy from last year’s event, securing his place as the Formula E’s first two-time winner.

Racers last year had to swap batteries mid race to reach the finish line, but this year utilized cutting-edge storage cells to finish each circuit — which can stretch to as long as 62 miles — on one battery.

And that’s pretty rad, according Faulkner, who said the tech that powers the racers of today’s racers will soon juice the passenger vehicles of tomorrow.

“What happens on racetracks is the testing grounds for what we end up in passenger cars, from safety to battery technology, it’s all initially tested on the race track,” the race marshal said. “It’s the new technology, it’s the future.”

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.

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