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Formula E races aren’t just exciting, they’re driving EV tech into the future



formula e

Formula E rolled into New York City in 2017 with a great gimmick. Bringing electric race cars to the streets of a city notorious for its hostility to cars was a great way to get attention for electric vehicles. But Formula E had to evolve in order to continue its dual mission of providing a testbed for electric-car tech and be a sustainable alternative to traditional motor sports. The third New York City E-Prix proves Formula E is doing just that. Experience gained on track could make future electric cars better, but in the meantime Formula E is just plain good racing.

Formula E is only in its third season, but it’s already seeing some big changes. You won’t see drivers switching cars halfway through a race; new “Gen 2” cars with bigger battery packs give drivers the range to go the entire 45-minute race (plus one lap, per the rules) without stopping.

“That was one aspect people criticized,” said Mitch Evans, a driver for Panasonic Jaguar Racing, adding that the mid-race car swaps were “kind of dangerous.” With range anxiety remaining one of the biggest concerns for potential electric-car buyers, the car swaps weren’t exactly helping make the case for electric power. The new cars have 54-kilowatt-hour battery packs that are about twice the size of the packs in the previous-generation cars, showing that the technology is advancing, and lessening the chance of people getting run over during races.

Eliminating the car swaps did mean drivers wouldn’t have to make pit stops, however, removing some of the drama from races. So organizers came up with Attack Mode, which gives drivers a temporary power boost. The catch is that drivers have to pass through a specific “activation zone” that’s off the ideal racing line, meaning they often lose time – or even places – trying to get Attack Mode. But drivers do get an extra 25 kilowatts (33.5 horsepower), which can make a big difference in a close race.

Oliver Turvey, a driver with the Nio team, told Digital Trends “It adds some strategy, gives us a chance to overtake.”

Attack Mode seems like something devised by video game developers, not racing stewards, but that’s typical of Formula E. It joins Fan Boost, which rewards a temporary power boost to the five most popular drivers, as determined by fans on social media. The top three drivers also take a selfie on the podium after each race. It can seem like a naked attempt to cash in on cultural trends, but at least Formula E is trying to attract new fans outside the traditional gearhead set. But what if you do care more about lap times than hashtags? Does Formula E have anything to offer diehard racing fans?

Formula E is not Formula One. It’s worth saying that explicitly because it’s easy to draw parallels between the two series. They both feature single-seat cars, and both claim to be at the cutting edge of automotive technology. They’re even organized by the same group (the FIA), and several current Formula E drivers previously raced in F1. But Formula E is a completely different animal to F1 – and not just because of its electric powertrains.

“You cannot compare. Formula One has a lot of downforce, big tires, different tracks, so many things,” Felipe Massa told us. He would know: he won 11 F1 grands prix over a career that spanned 15 years. The Brazilian just completed his first Formula E season with the French Venturi team. The Venturi VFE05 wasn’t the fastest car on the Formula E grid this year, but Massa still enjoyed going electric.

“I think it’s great. I think it shows that electric cars now have nothing to lose [compared to] combustion engines. I think it’s quite fun.”

On paper, though, Formula E cars do seem to lag behind their F1 cousins. The new Gen 2 cars are more powerful than their predecessors, but at 200 kW (270 hp) in race trim, they lag far behind F1 cars. Most of the automakers involved in Formula E make more powerful road cars you can buy today. A Formula E car’s zero-to-62 mph time of 2.8 seconds and top speed of 174 mph are more impressive compared to road cars, but still can’t match F1.

Another crucial difference is the tires. Instead of the series of bespoke racing tires used in F1, all Formula E teams use the same Michelin tire, which is designed to work in all conditions. The tire was designed for low rolling resistance to improve efficiency, and features tread like on a normal road-car tire. That means it offers substantially less grip than a traditional racing tire. It’s more relevant than exotic F1 tire tech, but it doesn’t do the drivers any favors.

“We’re always sliding. We’re constantly on the limit of the tire,” said Pascal Wehrlein, a driver for Mahindra Racing, and another F1 veteran. “In Formula One, you try to avoid sliding and drifting.”

So Formula E has slower cars that are harder for drivers to keep in a straight line. That is exactly as designed. It’s all about developing technology that will be relevant to electric road cars, and producing a good show. Formula E is succeeding on the latter count: in recent months it has produced much more exciting racing than Formula 1.

The current F1 season has really only been exciting for fans of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas team which had won all but one of the nine races held at the time of publication. The team has won the past five drivers’ and constructors’ championships, and only has two serious rivals (Ferrari and Red Bull). Even a race win is more or less out of the question for the other teams. On the other hand, the 13-race Formula E season saw nine different winners from eight teams – including Jaguar’s first international racing victory in 27 years. Going into the New York City E-Prix, a double header that served as the season finale, the drivers’ and constructors’ championships were both wide open.

Going into the New York E-Prix, DS Techeetah’s Jean Eric Vergne was the favorite to win the drivers’ championship. His team, a Chinese outfit backed by French automaker Citroën’s DS sub-brand, was in the lead of the constructors’ championship. But a string of bad luck for Vergne, including a massive pileup, kept both championship contests alive. Nissan driver Sebastian Buemi won the first race, suddenly propelling him into championship contention and giving the Japanese automaker its first Formula E win. Vergne and DS Techeetah ultimately came back to win both championships in the second race, but everything came down to the wire.

The closeness of the competition is partly down to the design of the cars. Unlike F1, Formula E doesn’t emphasize aerodynamic downforce, in which air flowing over the car pushes it down onto the track to generate grip. This means cars can run very close together without losing grip due to turbulence disrupting airflow over the body – a major issue with current F1 cars. Because designers didn’t have to festoon the cars with aerodynamic aids, they could also focus on making the machines look cool.

Formula E also standardized the most expensive parts of the car, including the chassis and battery pack. Teams are allowed to develop their own powertrains, but the cars are kept largely the same to keep costs down. This prevents the wealthiest teams from gaining an advantage simply by spending more money.
“It’s a lot more competitive across the whole field because we all race the same cars, the same power, and the same batteries,” said Andre Lotterer, Vergne’s teammate at DS Techeetah. Lotterer’s resume includes a stint in F1 and three 24 Hours of Le Mans wins. With their low-grip tires and lack of downforce, Formula E cars “come alive” on the series’ street circuits, Lotterer gleefully told us.

The cars throw another challenge at the drivers. While the new Gen 2 cars can make it through an entire race, they can’t do it while going flat out. Drivers have to back off the throttle and coast if they want to make it to the end. Formula E has made range anxiety a part of the show. You’d think that would be a problem for racing drivers, but they don’t seem to mind.

“It’s part of the challenge,” said Lotterer. Jaguar driver Alex Lynn said he’s fine with emphasizing energy saving over outright lap times, as long as the rules allow cars to maintain a reasonable pace.

It’s often said that racing serves as a testbed for road-car technologies, and that is supposed to be the case with Formula E. It’s why the series exists in the first place, and why major automakers like Audi, BMW, Jaguar, and Nissan are involved. Even though cars have to adhere to a pretty strict template, engineers are still learning simply by pushing electric-car tech to the limit in races.

“When you’re driving around downtown, or even on the freeway, you don’t actually push the car very hard,” noted Roger Griffiths, team principle of BMW i Andretti Motorsport. “How many times do you ever go full throttle on your road car? These guys go full throttle coming out of every single corner. We’re working this battery and the whole electric powertrain extremely hard.” That leads to issues electric cars wouldn’t normally encounter outside racing.

“Just like when you charge your iPhone, it gets hot. You’re generating heat by putting power back into the battery,” Griffiths said. One of the team’s cars had just come in after qualifying in pole position, meaning it will start from first place in that afternoon’s race. A mechanic was using dry ice to cool down the battery. “We can’t just come in off the racetrack with a hot battery, plug it into the charger, and expect it to charge at its peak rate. We have to be able to bring the battery temperature down,” Griffiths explained.
The average electric car owner probably isn’t shoveling dry ice onto their battery pack, nor are they using charging stations like the ones employed in Formula E. Built by Enel, they’re based on production charging stations, but were designed to be lightweight and portable without sacrificing power, Enel engineer Ilaria Vergantini said. With a charging rate of 80 kW, they can recharge a race car’s 54-kilowatt-hour battery pack in an hour. As with the cars themselves, lessons learned from developing racing-spec charging equipment could eventually be fed back into production charging stations.

“We are learning a lot of things here. We started from production units, and we customized them for motor sport,” Enel engineer Alberto Venanzoni said. “Basically, you start increasing the power and reducing the weight, then you experience some configuration that you never experienced in the streets.”

It’s hard to say when, if ever, technology from Formula E will transition to ordinary road cars. As with other forms of racing, Formula E tech is highly specialized, and organizers may eventually restrict innovation in order to maintain the status quo. For now, Formula E is still doing something important. By offering a new and exciting form of racing, it’s showing that an all-electric automotive future doesn’t have to be boring.


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Portis, Knicks beat Bulls 105-98 for 1st win of season




new york knicks

NEW YORK (AP) — Bobby Portis scored a season-high 28 points against his former team, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:47 remaining, and the New York Knicks beat the Chicago Bulls 105-98 on Monday night for their first victory of the season.

Portis hadn’t scored in double digits yet in his first season with the Knicks, but was superb in bringing New York back from an 18-point deficit. The reserve was 10 for 14, making all four 3-pointers, and added 11 rebounds.

The Knicks needed all of it on a night when they fell behind with a dreadful start and stayed that way until the fourth quarter. They never even led until Portis’ go-ahead 3, which he followed with another 3 that pushed it to 103-98 during a 15-0 run to finish the game.

Rookie RJ Barrett added 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Knicks, who had dropped their first three games. Kevin Knox II scored 14 points, and Julius Randle finished with 13 points, 14 rebounds and five assists.

Zach LaVine scored 21 points for the Bulls, who fell to 1-3. Wendell Carter Jr. had 20 points and 10 rebounds.

The Knicks missed 13 of their first 15 shots and quickly fell behind by double digits.


HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden scored 40 points and Russell Westbrook scored 21 and fell an assist shy of a triple-double against his former team, as Houston beat Oklahoma City.

Westbrook had 12 rebounds and nine assists after notching his 139th triple-double in his last game to pass Magic Johnson for second-most all-time.

A 3-pointer by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with 19 seconds left got Oklahoma City within 3. Westbrook made 1 of 2 free throws before fouling Nerlens Noel, who made both free throws.

But Harden, who was 21 of 22 from the line, made two free throws with 13.2 seconds to go to make it 114-110.

Gilgeous-Alexander cut it to 2 with a basket, but Harden made two more free throws to secure the victory.

It was the first game between these teams since a summer trade reunited Westbrook with Harden and sent Chris Paul to Oklahoma City.

Paul had 15 points, four assists and five rebounds.

Gilgeous-Alexander had 22 points and Dennis Schroder added 22 points to lead the Thunder.


DETROIT (AP) — Derrick Rose made a driving layup with 28.3 seconds left to give Detroit the lead and the Pistons beat winless Indiana for the second time in a week.

Rose shot just 4 of 16 from the field and was having a tough time in the fourth quarter, but his left-handed layup went in to put Detroit up 95-94. Malcolm Brogdon missed at the other end, but Indiana got an offensive rebound. T.J. Warren then missed badly on a tough shot from the corner, and the Pistons came up with the ball.

Luke Kennard made one of two free throws for Detroit, and Indiana had one more chance with 2 seconds left. Warren missed a 3-pointer from the left wing.

Andre Drummond had 18 points and 18 rebounds for the Pistons, and Christian Wood had 19 points and 12 rebounds.

Domantas Sabonis had 21 points and 14 rebounds for Indiana, and Brogdon contributed 15 points and 11 assists.


TORONTO (AP) — Kyle Lowry scored 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, Pascal Siakam added 24 and Toronto withstood a late rally to beat Orlando for its their third win in four games.

Marc Gasol had 10 points and 10 rebounds, Fred VanVleet scored 14 and OG Anunoby added 12 as the Raptors won for the 10th time in 15 regular-season meetings with Orlando.

Jonathan Isaac scored a career-high 24 points, Evan Fournier had 18 and Markelle Fultz 13 for the Magic, who have lost two straight.

Ex-Raptor Terrence Ross scored 11 for Orlando, and D.J. Augustin had 10.


MILWAUKEE (AP) — Khris Middleton scored 21 points, George Hill added 19 and seven Milwaukee players finished in double figures in a win over Cleveland.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 14 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in 29 minutes, Pat Connaughton added 17 points, Brook Lopez 16, and Wesley Matthews and Eric Bledsoe each finished with 14 points for Milwaukee.

Collin Sexton paced the Cavaliers with 18 points, while Jordan Clarkson and Tristan Thompson each added 17.


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Stephen Curry had 26 points and 11 assists, and Golden State won for the first time this season, beating winless New Orleans.

Draymond Green had 16 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists for the injury-riddled Warriors, who dropped their first two games by 19 or more points before dominating a Pelicans squad that was missing three injured starters, including top overall draft choice Zion Williamson.

D’Angelo Russell added 24 points and Damion Lee finished with 23 for Golden State, which led wire-to-wire.

Brandon Ingram had 27 points and 10 rebounds for the Pelicans.

The Pelicans were playing a second straight game without veteran guard Jrue Holiday, who has a sprained left knee, and also were without starting center Derrick Favors because of right knee soreness.

First-round draft pick Jaxson Hayes had 19 points for the Pelicans.

76ERS 105, HAWKS 103

ATLANTA (AP) — Joel Embiid scored 36 points, including the winning free throws with 5.3 seconds left, and Philadelphia 76ers won its third straight game to begin the season.

Philadelphia made things tough for Trae Young and dominated down the stretch to deny the young Hawks their first 3-0 start in three seasons.

Tobias Harris had eight of his 13 points in the final quarter as the 76ers outscored the Hawks 15-5 over the final five minutes. Josh Richardson chipped in with 14 points, and Ben Simmons also had 14.

But this was all about Embiid, who made 12 of 19 shots from the field and knocked down all 10 of his free throws. He also had 13 rebounds, five assists and three steals.

Young had 25 points on 7-of-20 shooting. John Collins added 16 points and De’Andre Hunter 14.


SAN ANTONIO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan scored 27 points and San Antonio overcame a sluggish start and beat Portland to remain undefeated.

Portland point guard Damian Lillard had 28 points, including 18 in the fourth quarter. Lillard’s 3-pointer from the right corner bounced in and out as time expired.

Derrick White scored 21 points, LaMarcus Aldridge had 15 and Bryn Forbes 14 as the Spurs capped a three-game homestand to open the season.

CJ McCollum added 27 points for the Blazers (2-2).


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Jamal Murray scored four of his 18 points in the final 31 seconds, Gary Harris added a pair of late free throws and Denver Nuggets held on after nearly blowing a big lead in the fourth quarter, beating winless Sacramento.

The Nuggets (3-0) shook off a sluggish first half, took control in the third quarter with a stifling defense, then held off a late rally by the Kings to remain unbeaten.

Harris scored 17 points as Denver won its fifth straight against Sacramento. Nikola Jokic had nine points on 4-for-15 shooting with 13 rebounds and Will Barton added 13 points and nine rebounds.

Richaun Holmes had 24 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings (0-4). De’Aaron Fox added 20 points and nine assists, and Harrison Barnes and Nemanja Bjelica each scored 12.

JAZZ 96, SUNS 95

PHOENIX (AP) — Donovan Mitchell scored 25 points, including the winning free throw with 0.4 seconds left, and Utah rallied to beat Phoenix.

Mitchell drove the lane in the final seconds, getting fouled by Devin Booker as he tried to make a layup. He made the first free throw before missing the second, and Frank Kaminsky III’s last-second heave was well short.

Bojan Bogdanovic led the Jazz with 29 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including 4 of 8 from 3-point range. Rudy Gobert had 15 points and 18 rebounds and made 11 of 12 free-throw attempts.

Phoenix (2-2) was led by Booker’s 21 points. Kelly Oubre Jr. added 18, Jevon Carter had 15, and Aron Baynes scored 12 points.

Ricky Rubio faced Utah (3-1) for the first time since signing a free-agent deal with the Suns in the offseason. He finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kawhi Leonard had 30 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and Lou Williams scored 23 points one day after his 33rd birthday in Los Angeles’ win over Charlotte.

Montrezl Harrell scored eight of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, and Landry Shamet added 16 in the Clippers’ third win in four games to start a season with championship aspirations.

Terry Rozier had 17 points to lead six Hornets scoring in double figures in the second game of a four-game trip. Devonte Graham had 14 points and 12 assists, while Cody Zeller added 14 points and 13 rebounds for Charlotte, which has lost three straight after a season-opening win over Chicago.



By The Associated Press

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Houston Astros surge past sloppy Yankees to move one win from pennant




Houston Astros s

George Springer and Carlos Correa each hit three-run homers and the Houston Astros got another wild ace off the hook to beat the sloppy New York Yankees 8-3 Thursday night and reach the cusp of a second World Series visit in three years.

The Astros lead the AL Championship Series 3-1, putting the 2017 World Series winners on the brink of a showdown with the NL champion Washington Nationals.

Houston still has Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole queued up for this series, and the Yankees will have to beat both to survive. Verlander will start Game 5 on Friday night against James Paxton.

New York worked starter Zack Greinke hard during a 28-pitch first inning, but just like with Cole in Game 3, the clutch hit never came. Many fans had left Yankee Stadium by the time it ended shortly before 12.30am.

The Yankees are at risk of failing to make the World Series for an entire decade for the first time since the 1910s.

The 103-win Yankees are 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position the past two games. Didn’t help when they committed four errors in Game 4, most ever for the club in a home postseason game.

Springer lined an errant splitter from playoff star Masahiro Tanaka in the third inning for his homer, and Correa battered Chad Green’s fastball when New York turned to its vaunted bullpen. Those All-Star sluggers have combined for just five hits in the series, but four have been homers.

Tanaka allowed four runs – three earned – for New York, his most in eight postseason starts.

CC Sabathia pitched in relief for New York but was pulled with an injury during the eighth inning. Planning to retire after the season, an emotional Sabathia covered his face with his glove as he left the field for perhaps the final time. Fans shouted his name as he walked off, and Cole and Springer were among the Houston players who stood and clapped for the 39-year-old.

Gary Sánchez ended a lengthy postseason slide with a two-run homer, but a reshuffled Yankees lineup – still without injured Giancarlo Stanton – again couldn’t string together its damage.

During warmups, a buzzing Bronx crowd jeered Greinke with chants of “Donald! Donald!” – his given first name – and the veteran right-hander wobbled early. He walked three in the first inning for the first time since April 2007, including a four-pitch, bases-loaded free pass to Brett Gardner, and fell into a quick 1-0 hole.

Greinke struggled especially to locate his fastball before blowing one past Sánchez during a three-pitch K to end the inning. He sharpened up and retired nine straight before the Yankees pushed him out of the game while loading the bases in the fifth.

Ryan Pressly struck out Gleyber Torres – on a tight check swing – and Edwin Encarnación to escape.

Greinke was charged with just one run, working around four walks against the patient-but-punchless Yankees. Cole pitched seven scoreless innings despite five walks in Game 3.

Tanaka helped shut out the Astros in Game 1 but tripped up against Springer in the rematch. The Japanese right-hander left one of his signature splitters in the middle of the plate, and Springer smoked a low line drive that cleared the fence in left-center.

Springer is batting .132 in these playoffs, slumping just like he did in 2017 before breaking out to win World Series MVP. This homer was his 13th in the postseason, snapping a tie with teammate Jose Altuve for the club record.

The Astros missed a chance to pile on that same inning. Altuve and Michael Brantley followed Springer’s drive with two hits and a nifty baserunning play, putting runners at second and third with one out. Brantley was held at third on a potential sacrifice fly hit to right fielder Aaron Judge, and Tanaka got struggling Yordan Álvarez on a popup to end that threat.

Correa gave Houston its big cushion in the sixth, making it 6-1 with his drive. At 25 years, 25 days, he is the youngest player with 10 postseason home runs, surpassing Albert Pujols.

Correa ended Game 2 with a home run in the 11th inning, and connected again in October after missing a lot of time this year with injuries.

Sánchez snapped a 2-for-23 skid to start this postseason with his two-run homer in the sixth. He reached out for Josh James’ 98 mph fastball off the outside edge of the strike zone and pulled it into the seats in left-center.

Otherwise, the AL East champion Yankees looked like they belonged in a lesser league.

Sure-handed first baseman DJ LeMahieu booted two ground balls, Torres also made two errors at second, and reliever Adam Ottavino was pulled before getting an out for the fourth time in seven appearances this postseason.

Hoping to save something in the bullpen after Wednesday’s rainout squeezed the rest of the series schedule, manager Aaron Boone used six relievers to cover four innings.




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Boxer Patrick Day, 27, dies days after suffering traumatic brain injury in fight




Patrick Day

Patrick Day, the boxer who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a fight Saturday, has died, his management company announced.

Day, 27, reportedly died Wednesday at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was taken after collapsing in the ring at the city’s Wintrust Arena, following a fight against Charles Conwell.

The management company, DiBella Entertainment, said Day died “surrounded by his family, close friends and members of his boxing team, including his mentor, friend and trainer Joe Higgins.” The company previously confirmed reports that Day was in a coma and underwent emergency brain surgery.

Day was knocked down in the fourth and eighth rounds of the bout before several punches to the head from Conwell again sent him to the canvas in the 10th and final round. Day was attended to by medical personnel before he was taken from the arena on a stretcher. He was reported to have remained unconscious, and suffered seizures as an ambulance transported him to the hospital.


“It becomes very difficult to explain away or justify the dangers of boxing at a time like this,” DiBella Entertainment said. “This is not a time where edicts or pronouncements are appropriate, or the answers are readily available. It is, however, a time for a call to action. While we don’t have the answers, we certainly know many of the questions, have the means to answer them, and have the opportunity to respond responsibly and accordingly and make boxing safer for all who participate.

“This is a way we can honor the legacy of Pat Day. Many people live much longer than Patrick’s 27 years, wondering if they made a difference or positively affected their world. This was not the case for Patrick Day when he left us. Rest in peace and power, Pat, with the angels.”


Day’s trainer, Joe Higgins, was not immediately available for comment. He recently told ESPN that Day grew up across the street from him in Freeport, N.Y., and wandered over as a 14-year-old to try out the punching bag hanging in the trainer’s garage. Higgins soon had Day enrolled at the local Police Athletic League gym.

“I feel like I’m responsible, like I let him down,” Higgins told ESPN, via text message. “My special kid.”

In its statement, DiBella Entertainment described Day as a “a dedicated college student,” who earned an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree.

“Patrick Day didn’t need to box,” the statement said. “He came from a good family, he was smart, educated, had good values and had other avenues available to him to earn a living.

“He chose to box, knowing the inherent risks that every fighter faces when he or she walks into a boxing ring. Boxing is what Pat loved to do. It’s how he inspired people and it was something that made him feel alive.”

Day’s death is the latest in a string of recent fatalities in the sport. Maxim Dadashev, a 28-year-old Russian, died in July, after he underwent surgery for massive head trauma following a fight at MGM National Harbor casino in Oxon Hill, Md. And 23-year-old Hugo Santillan reportedly suffered cardiorespiratory failure after fighting to a draw in his native Argentina just days after Dadashev’s death.


Source: washingtonpost

By  Des Bieler

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