Formula E – Rise of a new formula

The 17-18 Audi Spark Formula E car.

Formula E has become a vastly growing formula series that has shocked a lot of people in many ways. When it debuted back in 2014, a lot of motorsport enthusiasts thought this series would be a total flop based on previous disciplines that had tried some ‘out the box’ ideas. Some of these included Superleague Formula and A1 GP. The mere thought of racing cars that produced no noise and ran on electricity seemed absurd. Time has shown that this idea has strengthened with every season it has taken place with some major car manufacturers investing heavily into ‘the future of racing’.

The first generation car from 2014.

In its debut season, every team used an identical car supplied by Spark Racing Technology called the Spark-Renault SRT 01E. The car ran on an electric motor developed by McLaren and a battery system developed by Williams. The chassis was created by the legendary formula car designers, Dallara. These ingredients seemed like an awesome recipe for a great racing car. It produced 250bhp and had a top speed of 140mph which to be fair, was pretty impressive for a car that created zero emissions while pounding around a race track. Since the first season of this futuristic formula, the regulations have changed somewhat. Now, teams and manufacturers must develop their own powertrain, gearbox, inverter and cooling system. These elements are obviously regulated heavily but allow teams to manufacturer their own parts and push the boundaries as much as possible, similar to Formula 1.

Another interesting implementation into Formula E was that of the fans on social media. Fans were able to vote for their favorite driver and in return, the chosen drivers would receive what the series called a ‘fan boost’. This would give the drivers the ability to use an extra shot of energy during the power window phase of the race to give them a slight advantage over the rest of the field and allow for more overtaking. It was an interesting idea and created a lot of engagement within the Formula E community, allowing fans to feel like they made a difference to the outcome of their favorite driver’s race. The tracks are also something that added to the engagement of the fans. All of the circuits are held on the streets of a major city which enabled supporters to get up close and personal with the cars and drivers. It also allowed for tight racing throughout and because the cars are emissions and noise free, made the access to these cities a lot easier.

Renault unveiled their Spark-ZE17 recently.

Formula E is now going into its fourth season, with every year showing another big step in the right direction. Manufacturers such as Jaguar, Audi and even Porsche are now heavily invested in the series which shows great promise and belief that this formula will one day become the new Formula 1. It offers close racing, zero emissions, great fan engagement and the opportunity to forge new paths in the automotive industry. Formula 1 has been on the decline for the past few years with many fans complaining about the lack of competitiveness within it, due to dominant forces in the form of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari. If this trend continues, Formula E will be there ready to take its place. I don’t think that will be for a little while yet but change comes when everyone least expects it so Formula 1, watch out.

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