28 Nov 17
What happens when you line a cheetah up against an FIA Formula E Championship car in a head-to-head drag race?
No, we haven't started early with the festive jokes - not yet, at least - but we did travel to a landing strip in a remote part of the Western Cape on the southern tip of Africa to find out.
"We knew the similarities in performance between the Formula E car and a cheetah, so we were curious to see the outcome," said Formula E Founder and CEO Alejandro Agag. With both the cheetah - the world's fastest land animal - and the Formula E development car - officially called the SPARK SRT_01E - covering off 0-100km/h (62mph) in just three seconds, it's all to play for. Care to guess who won?
But, of course, there's a more important reason why we chose to do this. Aside from being the fastest land animal, the cheetah is one of the most endangered creatures on the planet. With just 7000 remaining in the wild, the species is wide-ranging and sparsely distributed, needing large landscapes to survive, which makes it particularly vulnerable to habitat loss and fragmentation - threats that are exacerbated by a changing climate.
With Formula E offering more than a global motorsport championship, the all-electric street racing series aims to provide a solution to climate change by acting as catalyst for the uptake of electric vehicles, particularly in city cenrtes - the natural habitat of Formula E. By encouraging more people to switch to smart, electric mobility, it's possible to make our society cleaner for future generations, while helping to preserve habitats for species like the cheetah.
"What’s even more important is to determine the outcome for the future for not only us, but the cheetah and other animals we share our planet with. We only have one planet and we must address the issues we currently face from the source and electric cars can play a key role in reducing C02 emissions worldwide," said Agag.
But, as we all know, a racing car is nothing without a driver - although Formula E's support partner Roborace is working on that one. In the meantime, we needed a pilot and who better to call on than TECHEETAH driver Jean-Eric Vergne? "There are only around 7,000 cheetahs still living in the wild and we have a strong desire to raise awareness for the main threats they face, such as illegal trade of cubs for pets, loss of prey due to habitat loss and fragmentation aggravated by climate change. I’m really proud to have participated in this film and stay tuned for some exciting news to come following the documentary,” said Vergne.
Just picture it - Jean-Eric Vergne, a Formula E car and...a cheetah on a desolate landing strip in southern Africa. Not your everyday scenario and, luckily, we won't make you imagine it for long because here's the video - click below to find out who wins...
This film was overseen by conservations experts and animal welfare organisations and is released in partnership with Animal Issues Matter, Cheetah Outreach and Endangered Wildlife Trust.
Click here to head over to our dedicated page. See behind-the-scenes and learn more about Formula E's commitment to animal welfare during the filming.