I am not going to lie to you now, I am a complete rookie when it comes to the motorsport series of Formula E. But, everyone is raving about it. And, as the third race of the third season looms in the not too distant future, I thought I would share with you a beginner’s guide to the sport – as I learn about it for myself.
First things first, the cars are electric. The clue is in the name. The electric version of Formula 1, if you like. But the two series couldn’t be more worlds apart.
The series claims to reinvent racing, and I have to say, it is doing exactly that.
The races take place across the globe – from Africa to Asia, to America. Unlike Formula 1, it seems to reach all four corners of the planet. But that isn’t all. Formula E uses social media tools like no other form of motorsport. They ensure that the fans take center stage.
This leads us nicely to a popular feature called the ‘FanBoost’. Audiences vote for their favourite drivers via any social media channel, and the three drivers with the most votes get a 20% boost in horsepower, for five seconds, during the race. This is rather handy if a driver is trying to execute an overtake. It seemingly pays to be a favourite among the fans, unlike other motorsports.
Race Weekend Format
All events begin with two practice sessions in the morning. The first is a 45-inute session followed by a 30-minute one. Drivers each have two cars which they are able to use, with 200 kW available throughout.
The qualifying session normally happens in the afternoon and lasts for one hour. The drivers are divided into four groups of 5, and each group has six minutes to set their fastest times. Full power of 200 kW is available but unlike practice, they are only allowed to use one car. Since the second season, the five fastest drivers then go out again, one-by-one, in the ‘Super Pole’ shoot-out to form the top-five grid positions. The pole-sitter is also named.
The race itself lasts for 50 minutes or there abouts, with drivers making one mandatory pit stop to change cars. This usually happens at the half distance mark. During a race, the maximum power is restricted to 170 kW. Points are awarded using the standard FIA system – 25 for first and so on.
- The races are called an ePrix – pretty clever, huh?
- The 2016/17 season features ten teams – Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport, Andretti Autosport, DS Virgin, Dragon Racing, Jaguar Racing, Mahindra Racing, NextEV NIO, Renault e.dams, TECHEETAH and Venturi.
- Generally, racing takes place on street circuits in the heart of cities. In 2017, the series will head to New York.
- Founded by motorsport giant Jean Todd, the inaugural Formula E race took place in 2014, in Beijing. The first season consisted ten different countries, and from that, Nelson Piquet Jr became the first champion of the sport.
- Sebastien Buemi was crowned champion of the second season. Lucas di Grassi narrowly missed out, by finishing two points behind Buemi.
Formula E poses more than just the physical challenges associated with motorsport. Science and technology are evolving 24/7, and the sport has to adapt and evolve with new advancements.
The sport still features the usual crashes that motorsport is famous for, and there is still overtaking too.
“You will see more overtaking than entire F1 season,” Sam Bird once claimed.
Formula E is still in its development stages; of course, it isn’t going to be perfect. But, in its defense, look at the shambles of the qualifying F1 briefly introduced for the 2016 season.
The point is, Formula E’s audience is expanding. And people are raving about it.
Here’s the biggest different then, perhaps: people talk about Formula 1, but they rave about Formula E.
Doesn’t that tell you something?
That was something a little bit different from me. Please give me some feedback – and if any corrections need to be made about FE’s information, let me know. I am, like a said, a rookie.