I’ve been following the progress of Formula E for quite some time now, so I thought I’d finally find the time to write about it ahead of the first race this Saturday.
The FIA Formula E Championship is intended to create a fast-paced car racing series using pure electric cars whilst retaining similar levels of technological innovation, driver skill, and spectator excitement that Formula 1 enjoyed in its prime. But beyond racing and entertainment, Formula E serves two other important purposes:
- It’s the perfect development platform for car manufacturers to experiment and deploy new battery and electric drivetrain technologies
- It’s a fun and engaging way to educate the public on electric mobility and the future of both racing and transportation
As both a fan of racing and a huge proponent of electric mobility, the announcement and development of Formula E has been extremely exciting to follow. It represents a new way forward at a time when spectator viewership numbers are diminishing and the format has seen little change in years. The new series is a fresh (although by all means not perfect) take on the sport - for one, the quiet electric drivetrains means that races will be hosted within city centres as opposed to dedicated circuits. This will likely attract an entirely new audience, one that historically would have had little interest in either racing or sustainability.
10 teams have signed on to the first series, representing some of the largest names in motorsport racing. Each team has 2 drivers and 4 cars; drivers will swap cars halfway through the race (due to battery limitations). Races will take place in 10 cities around the world, and the tracks will be between 2.5km and 3km long.
Nobody quite knows what will happen to Formula E, given that the first race hasn’t yet taken place. Will the tracks be too boring? Will the cars be reliable enough? Will it keep audiences interested? Whatever happens, it’s going to play a part in shaping the future of motorsport racing - one where innovative sustainable design plays a central role and where electrons, not fossil fuels, win races.
The first round begins this Saturday (the 13th) in Beijing, and I would encourage anyone with a slight interest in the series to give it a watch. It’s being broadcast on many major TV sports networks, and there will likely be some live web streams available too. It won’t be for everyone, but we won’t know if we don’t give it a fighting chance.