Formula E: Accelerate Takes to the Virtual Streets of NYC
by Warren Rosenberg, MetroSports Magazine, February 2021
The Brooklyn, New York, waterfront has been the site of the FIA Formula E New York City ePrix since 2017. The NYC ePrix has been the last stop on this international racing circuit with stops in Saudi Arabia, Monaco, Berlin, Mexico City, London, Morocco, Paris, and China among others. The Covid-19 pandemic brought that to a screeching halt in 2020.
While the 2020-2021season has now gotten underway with some of this season’s racing schedule released, there has been no commitment yet made to the New York City race. When the live action New York Knicks season was cancelled in 2020, the NBA and Madison Square Garden stepped in with a virtual competition through the NBA2K video gaming league and the Knicks Gaming squad dubbed the KNX. Similarly, the FIA stepped in with its own virtual racing series, the ‘Formula E Race at Home Challenge’, and mounted a contest on a virtual Brooklyn waterfront track. This race was covered in a June 4th, 2020 article in MetroSports Magazine as was the NBA2K’s KNX season.
With the 2020-21 season uncertain, and with growing interest in virtual gaming, the FIA launched its “Formula E:Accelerate Racing” eSports series with its inaugural race on the streets of a virtual Brooklyn race track.
Formula E: Accelerate is a six-race competition that kicks off at the end of January and concludes in March at the Grand Final with double points on offer for the sim racing stars. The virtual races will take place at inch-perfect digital recreations of tracks from real world locations like Berlin's Tempelhof Airport, Hong Kong Harbourfront and Brooklyn’s Red Hook Cruise Ship Terminal in New York City, among others.
The 24 sim racers will also be gunning for a piece of a minimum €100,000 prize pot and the ultimate all-electric driving experience of taking the Gen2 car for some laps around a Formula E circuit during an E-Prix weekend.
In the New York race to open the season, ROKiT Venturi Racing’s Erhan Jajovski established his dominance by capturing the pole position in qualifying and going on the win the race.
From the front row, Erhan secured the perfect start and led into Turn 1, defending from Audi’s Manuel Biancolilla to convert his pole position into the lead by the end of the opening lap. At the front, Erhan fended off a mid-race assault from Race at Home Challenge champion Kevin Siggy and opened up a comfortable lead, building a four-second buffer between himself and P2. This gap was enough to ensure victory, and after 25-minutes of hard-fought racing, Erhan took the checkered flag in first place to become the inaugural winner of Formula E: Accelerate.
Summing up his performance in the race, Erhan commented, “That was the most intense qualifying and race session I’ve ever had. After the online qualifiers, we knew that the gaps across the field would be small, but to secure pole position in the first race is a fantastic feeling. My race was all about the start and I knew that if I was able to defend up to Turn 4, I would be in a good position. That’s exactly what happened. I was able to open up a small gap but all of the fighting behind played into my advantage. Lorenz was looking strong and it’s a shame he got into some trouble on the first lap. I’m grateful for the team’s support and I hope we can maintain this form into Round 2.”