Six Years from the Start: Formula E’s Inaugural Race

ROKiT Venturi Racing looks back on Formula E’s inaugural race in Beijing…

As pioneers in electromobility, our immediate commitment to Formula E in December 2013 was the logical next step on what was a pathway of innovation and excellence.

Just like Alejandro Agag, we too held a bright vision for the future, and 275 days after becoming the first manufacturer to join the championship, we were ready for the series’ inaugural race.

In Beijing, Nick Heidfeld and Stephane Sarrazin placed their ROKiT Venturi Racing cars on the third and 10th rows after qualifying in P5 and P19.

The anticipation was high and the tension immense and when the green flag waved after the illumination of five red lights, the first-ever all-electric single-seater race was underway.

Nick was on the offensive from the outset and with a strong getaway, he cleared Karun Chandhok into Turn 1, overtaking the Mahindra driver to snatch P4, on the hunt for silverware.

Before the German driver could make further progress, however, the safety car was deployed on lap 2, pausing the race after Bruno Senna crashed on the opening tour.

When the green flags waved, an enthralling game of cat and mouse ensued, with Nick’s gap to the podium positions fluctuating lap by lap as pressure was mounting from behind.

A challenge from Andretti’s Franck Montagny briefly put Nick’s P4 under threat but by ducking into the pit lane at the end of lap 13, he held on.

After jumping into his second Venturi car, Nick re-joined the race in P4 and a net P2, crucially clearing the Audi-Abt cars of Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt in the pit phase.

Sam Bird and Charles Pic pitted one lap later which pushed Nick up into the runner-up spot. Nico Prost was the only driver ahead, and the gap was closing.

Holding more usable energy, Nick was within one second off Prost with only a handful of laps remaining, darting left and right, sizing the Frenchman up.

When the lap counter ticked onto the final tour, only 0.6 seconds split the pair and Nick was on a mission. He was within striking distance – the stage was set for a potentially breathtaking finish.

With one corner remaining – the finish line in sight – Nick launched his attack up the inside, only for Prost to close the door.

Contact was inevitable and as Nick’s front right suspension broke, he was launched into the air, flipping and spinning before coming to a rest upside down when the chequered flag waved for di Grassi.

Champagne was snatched from our clutches but on this day six years ago, Formula E’s story began with a bang.

68 races, 10,000 laps, 24,000 kilometres, six podiums, and one victory later, ROKiT Venturi Racing is proud to be part of the series, with our eyes planted firmly on the future for Formula E’s World Championship year in Season 7.