Still trying to break traditional racing stigmas, Formula E is quickly approaching their fifth season and looking stronger than ever. A new manufacturer, HWA RACELAB (will be Mercedes next season) has joined the all-electric series. Felipe Massa, Pascal Wherlein, and Stoffel Vandoorne will be new drivers competing against regulars like Sebastien Buemi and current series champion, Jean-Eric Vergne. Not to mention that the Gen2 car will make the much-awaited debut that will change the series and progress it forward.
So, why all the hate? Is it the racing on the track? Is it the circuits? Is it because manufacturers are becoming invested in electronic technology and hurting the tradition of what motorsports should be?
If it is about the racing on the track, I think you would need your eyes checked. Wheel-to-wheel action and drama in every round have been the norm in this series. The Gen2 car that the FIA has developed themselves is built for the racing Formula E has produced the previous four years. These cars seem to be built for the close quarters, and no holds bard that street racing can provide. They eliminated the traditional wings and put fenders on their “open-wheel” cars. Rubbings racing and I think there will be plenty of that this year.
The brilliance of Formula E is their circuits and the type of racing it does produce. I know what everyone is thinking “Scott, these circuits don’t resemble anything like a traditional race track.” I know, but you can argue that about any street course. We love the street courses of Long Beach, Toronto, and Monaco because of their prestige and history within the sport. If we wait long enough, I’m sure it will be that way in Formula E soon as well.
I got sidetracked as to what the brilliance truly is, forgive me. The brilliance is that this series can make a circuit anywhere. It goes to new markets like Saudi Arabia and Chile to race in their capital cities. It brought racing to the boroughs of New York City and has drivers fighting like gladiators through the streets of Rome. The reach of this series is not only global, but it can reach an entirely new audience that has never experience professional racing on this scale. That is the brilliance of this series that many tend to overlook.
It is no secret that without manufacturers, racing would mainly be impossible. This problem is the case for Formula One, DTM, NASCAR, V8 Supercars, etc. Formula E has no shortage of interest. Audi, Jaguar, BMW, and Nissan are all big-name car manufacturers that are using this platform to test their latest electric motor for their production cars. Brand names like Mahindra and Envision are companies that are using this series to test their latest electronic technology for their products not related to motorcars. The beauty of this series is its ability to attract manufactures outside of the traditional automakers.
Electric power is seen as the wave of the future, and this series will be the cutting edge for this type of technology. Manufacturers are buying into it because of the relatively cheap cost. Having a spec car means no development dollars going toward building one. A battery will be issued from McLaren for the Gen2 cars. All the manufacturers have to do is develop a motor to run the battery along with developing the hardware/ software to compliment.
The technological advancements that the series have taken in the last four years are staggering and have no signs of slowing. The racing is going to be fever-pitched, and the excitement is buzzing for the season opener December 15th in the capital city of Saudi Arabia.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention…no more car swaps.