If you haven’t already, it’s time to give Formula E a chance
With the 2021 Formula E season getting underway in Saudi Arabia later this evening, I’ve decided it’s finally time I gave the racing series a proper chance. If you’re thinking about doing the same, here’s a few things you should know about the series ahead of the season opener.
Formula E was founded with a mission to race electric cars through the streets of the most iconic cities around the world in an attempt to demonstrate the capabilities of sustainable mobility and race for a cleaner, more sustainable future.
The series actively promotes the use of electric mobility and alternative energy solutions as contributions to fighting climate change and reducing air pollution, hoping that through racing, they can excite and inspire generations into embracing electric mobility and clean energy.
Formula E are currently on their second generation of cars, Gen 2, with Gen 3 cars set to come into the sport for the 2022/23 season.
The Gen 2 cars made a significant technological leap from the first cars used in Formula E, with the battery capacity of Gen 1 doubled in Gen 2, meaning FE cars can now cover a full race distance. In the early seasons of the series, drivers would have to swap cars mid-race.
The Gen 2 cars are also more powerful than their predecessors, with a maximum power output of 250kw, 50kw more than the Gen 1 cars. This means that current Formula E cars have a potential top speed of 280 km/h, or 174 mph.
The cars use specially designed Michelin all-weather tyres to cope with the demands of electric street racing and since 2018 have had Halo safety devices fitted to the car, which are lined with LED lighting, which we’ll talk about a little bit later.
For the 2021 season, there are currently 8 races confirmed, with two races in Diriyah, followed by races in Rome, Valencia, Monaco and Marrakesh, with another double header in Santiago, Chile as races 7 and 8.
The FIA and Formula E are set to update the calendar in the spring and it is highly likely that more races, in more cities, will be added when they do.
In the 2018/19 season, the last full season unaffected by Covid-19, Formula E held 13 races in 12 different countries.
With it’s sustainable message and a push for technological advancements in electric technology, Formula E has managed to attract some big names to the series, with Porsche, Mercedes, Jaguar, Audi and BMW all racing on the grid in 2021.
Audi and BMW have recently announced they will step back from Formula E at the end of Gen 2, but around the same time, it was announced that Formula E had signed an agreement with McLaren, giving them a formal option to join the grid when Gen 3 cars are intorduced in 2022/23.
So although some manufacturers are opting to step back from the series, Formula E continues to attract some of the biggest names in motorsport.
If you’re a fan of Formula 1, there are plenty of names on the grid in Formula E that you might recognise, with a number of former F1 drivers lining up on the grid. These include but arent limited to Stoffel Vandoorne, Sebastian Buemi and Lucas Di Grassi.
Former F2 World Champion Nyck De Vries, who took pole for this afternoon’s race, also lines up on the grid, as does current Formula E World Champion and former Red Bull Junior Antonio Felix Da Costa.
With five different race winners in the first five races last season, before Antonio Felix Da Costa dominated 6 rounds of racing at Tempelhof Airport to end a pandemic hit season, it is a competitive grid, and should continue to be so in 2021.
As well as being fully electric, Formula E further separates itself from other motorsport series with some distinct features, including ‘Attack Mode’ and ‘Fan Boost’.
Attack Mode offers drivers an extra 35kW of power to use for a set amount of time during the race, and thus more speed during that period.
It is activated when the driver leaves the racing line and drives through the designated ‘activation zone’, lighting up the LED lights inside their Halo a magenta colour.
The details of Attack Mode, including how long it will last and how many times it can be used during a race, are decided by the FIA an hour prior to the race start, leaving drivers and teams less time to strategise their use of attack mode and adding to the unpredictability of Formula E.
Alongside Attack Mode, Formula E has a ‘Fan Boost’ feature, which, as you’ve probably guessed, is voted for by the fans.
Fans can vote for their favourite driver up to six days prior to, and leading up to 15 minutes into, each race, with the five most popular drivers receiving a short burst of additional energy to use at their own discretion.
Fanboost doesn’t last as long as Attack Mode, but can provide a crucial boost of energy to use at a pivotal time in the race.
Give Formula E a chance
Yes, it might sound a bit different, and have a few quirky features here and there, but when it comes down to it, Formula E is a competitive racing series, with some of the world’s biggest manufacturers and best drivers lining up on the grid.
Combine that with their push for sustainable mobility and the advancement of electric technology, along with the fact it’s free-to-air on BBC iPlayer, and what’s not to like?