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Formula E gets underway in Beijing - Excitement surrounds the first race of the season

Published by Christine

Di Grassi opens his account in Formula E

The FIA's brand new motorsport series Formula E began today, with the first race taking place around the streets of Beijing. The familiar Bird's Nest stadium was a backdrop to the inaugural running of the electric cars as they completed practice, qualifying and the race itself all in the space of one day.

Anticipation has been high for this event, we've been looking forward to it for months. As a revolutionary new concept in motor racing, the sport had a lot of pressure on its shoulders to deliver, and came under fire for some of the more radical thinking - fan boost for popular drivers, car swapping in the pit lane and much more. This was the time to prove all the doubters wrong, and that's why we got up early on Saturday morning to watch it all unfold.

Formula E starts tomorrow! Eep! Qualifying is at 5am and the race at 9am, UK time. Race is live on ITV4. FRANCK!

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Formation lap is deliciously quiet.

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The first thing that really stood out about the sport was how very quiet the cars are. The engines make a high-pitched squeal, which didn't appeal to everyone, but once you get used to that, the lack of noise was really, very enticing. Organisers have an official EJ (or DJ to everyone else) that plays music before, after and during the race, which seemed unnecessary but wasn't the distraction for me that many followers seemed to be struggling with.

Bring on the Fanboost. Glad organisers had the motivation to stick with it.

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It was an absolute travesty that Franck Montagny wasn't given the first fan boost (that'll teach him for not having a Twitter account), that honour went to Bruno Senna, Lucas di Grassi and Katherine Legge. The fan interaction has been in the firing line but it didn't make much difference in the race itself. Senna was out on the first lap, Legge didn't have much of an impact and Di Grassi, well I don't want to spoil it yet. But we didn't see when, how or even if the Fan Boost was deployed which made it thankfully not an issue but equally a little bit pointless on race day.

Loving the onboard replay for Jarno Trulli... going nowhere.

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Montagny just will not sit behind anyone, always pushing forward. It makes for tense viewing!

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Montagny early contender for DotD

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He was brilliant. Even at the end, when they talked to him post-race, he was smiling and joking and generally being an all round good guy. So far, Formula E has appeared to manage to get up close and personal with the drivers, interviewing them immediately after they climb out of the cars and getting heat of the moment reactions.

I also thought the car swapping added a really nice human element to proceedings. It's been mocked by many, and I can understand why - cars that can't even get to the end of a race, crazy concept - but I felt like it was a unique opportunity to see a driver (more than just a helmet) mid race. It was brilliant fun watching them leap out, shuffle across to the spare car and dive in before heading on their way again. I assume this is a temporary solution to batteries not being able to last full distance, but I, for one, think all series should adopt this technique!

Sam Bird got some real air as he jumped out. Love it!

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Buemi retires but not before dashing out to set the fastest lap. Handing out points for stuff is an enticement to keep racing.

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Terrible final lap crash! Glad both are okay, almost had a proper fight and everything. Heidfeld chasing Prost on foot!

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Insane swerve from Prost. That was Heidfeld's corner, the race was lost. Should've settled for second. Muppet.

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The race had its processional moments but there was some good overtaking to be had as well. In the final moments, we had Heidfeld chasing down Prost for the lead, and if they hadn't crashed into each other, we might have seen a last dash drag race for the line. In the end, though, it was a crazy move from Prost that saw both out of the race, a controversial moment, heart-stopping for the upside down Nick Heidfeld. It's unfortunate that the race ended with a big crash, it didn't need that to make it interesting. However, it was also testament to the safety of the cars, a good test on their first real outing.

Bit untidy around the edges but Formula E's debut was a lot of fun. And heaps to look forward to as the season progresses.

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Formula E was totally worth waking up for. As good as I hoped it'd be. More please.

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