Formula E launches: The race to the future
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Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Jul 2014   |  11:05 am GMT  |  124 comments

Last night in London, the new zero emissions world championship Formula E launched in a ceremony featuring three former F1 world champions and two female drivers hoping to make the grade in this new series.

Billed as “the race to the future” Formula E is a ten race championship of races held in city centres, starting with Beijing on September 13 and ending with London next June, in a race around Battersea Park.

Formula E has been developed from an request to FIA president Jean Todt from the European Union to do more to promote sales and use of electric cars in cities.

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Last night the man entrusted with delivering a winning product, Alejandro Agag, launched his new series at the Roundhouse in London, announcing new venues, new drivers including two female drivers, Michela Cerruti and Katherine Legge. Also present were Alain Prost, Damon Hill, Emerson Fittipaldi and Sir Frank Williams.

There are a host of ex-F1 drivers in the field including Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastien Buemi, Jarno Trulli, Karun Chandhok, Takuma Sato and Nick Heidfeld, while four times world champion Alain Prost is co-owner of the e.dams Renault team. The drivers will be his son Nicolas as well as Buemi.

Alguersuari will partner ex Mercedes test driver and GP2 title contender Sam Bird in the Virgin Racing team. Cerruti will drive alongside Trulli himself in Trulli’s own team.

Renault has been a big supporter of the series, while Audi has an interest via the German Abt team and Toyota is known to be keeping a watching brief on the series. Initially everyone will use the same Spark/Dallara chassis with a McLaren motor and Williams battery, but manufactures and tech companies are encouraged to get involved. However budgets are capped, so no-one can get a significant advantage by spending more.

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Formula E is targeting a new generation of motorsport fans with a new proposition; city centre racing with a strong musical side; not only will there be bands playing at the venues, the races themselves will have a soundtrack running throughout, so there will be sounds for pit stops, crashes, starts and other moments. Then there is also the famous ‘fan boost” idea whereby fans can vote via social media for their favourite driver to get a performance boost during the race, making them in some small way a “protagonist” in the action.

It’s a new approach and comes at an interesting time as motorsport faces up to the question of how it engages with a new young audience. Time will tell whether Formula E is the answer, or an answer, or whether it fails, as many new racing series have done over the years, like A1GP.

It will also be interesting to see how much overlap, if any, there is with F1 fans. Given that the brand equity of many of the drivers and team bosses is in F1, one would imagine that there will be a high degree of curiosity, at least at the outset.

We will keep an eye on the series here on JA on F1, as we have since its inception.

What do you think? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below, on whether you think Formula E will work and what it should do to engage a new audience.

You can attend the official test session at Donington Park later this week or next Wednesday/Thursday. So far 3,000 members of the public are signed up to attend.

Visit the website http://www.fiaformulae.com/ for more details.

It was also announced that there will also be a schools series around the Formula E project, run in partnership with Greenpower Education Trust.

The project will see aspiring engineers compete in a series of televised support races at five of the 10 Formula E races in 2014/2015.

Events at Buenos Aires (Argentina), Long Beach and Miami (USA), Berlin (Germany), and London (UK) will give local students the chance to pit their wits against rival teams by constructing and driving electric Formula E School Series cars on the same circuits as the advanced Formula E racers.

Ten School Series teams will participate at each round of the series, which will feature a 20-minute qualifying session between the official Formula E Practice and Qualifying sessions and will culminate in a 20-minute sprint race ahead of the Formula E ePrix.

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124 Comments
  1. Given the drivers and owners in the series I will be at least checking it out. I’m disappointed that they won’t be racing on some ex-F1 tracks like Brands Hatch, Imola, etc. And I’m not sure about music blaring throughout the race. For me, that’s one of the irritating things about attending a race these days (and hard on the ears too). But I will check it out.

    1. Stephen Taylor says:

      My Ideal Formula E circuits of which there are 10
      1 Donington
      2 Laguna Seca
      3 Motorland Aragon
      4 Magny Cours
      5 Imola
      5 Okayama International Circuit
      6 Losail Circuit
      7 Brno Circuit
      8 Assen TT Circuit
      9 Nordschleife
      10 Istanbul Park Circuit

      1. Spyros says:

        How many laps of the Nordschleife do you think they could manage on a single charge..?

      2. Stephen Taylor says:

        2 maybe 3

      3. J N H says:

        Based on the race format and mandatory car changes, I would guess at two laps. I think the car changes are going to be a major problem for this series, no better way to torpedo credibility than have a race with cars that can’t make it to the end.

      4. Mark Robinson says:

        Yeah, as much as I love it, ditch the Nordschleife as impractical and substitute it with Bathurst (gotta have at least one circuit in the southern hemisphere!).

    2. Simon Lord says:

      Totally agree – so many sporting events are ruined by loud music. I find I’m putting ear plugs in between the races these days, not during. All these silly gimmicks are making it a lot harder to take seriously what should have been a technically interesting series. At a time when F1 has been enlivened by technical challenges and the return of unreliability showing up the gimmicks for what they are, why repeat the same mistakes? It shows a pretty low opinion of modern youth.

    3. Steve W says:

      I agree about the music. Really annoying.

      1. Tyler says:

        Agreed.. bad idea, the novelty of this series is the lack of noise if you ask me.

  2. Pkara says:

    Cool :-)
    James news on the grapevine… has LOTUS signed a deal with Mercedes for 2015 for Mercedes engines?
    How can they afford Merc engines when they can barely pay for Renault engines?
    Maldo backers couldnt fork out for Merc Engines just to keep Lotus going?
    Does this mean Renault are slowly being shunned because of their bad engine performance?

    1. Richard D says:

      What’s this got to do with Formula E?

      1. Pkara says:

        Zero :-D

      2. Scott77 says:

        See, Formula E is such a poor gimmick of a series, people don’t even give enough credit to comment. They have to find something else to talk about & I for one would much rather speculate on who is going to drop Renault first although this series will be good for a laugh. Especially the fan boost. I had a real hearty laugh at that one when I first heard it a while back. Then I realized they were serious & laughed even harder.

      3. Daniel says:

        I have been making high powered go karts for 4 years now. Also high powered cars. These are no joke, huge torque and good power with very little tyre, makes for a car that requires good drivers. Now we will see who is the best driver.

    2. KiwiF1 says:

      It’s two fold – Mercedes are the cheapest PU and oil/fuel deal, rumoured to be around $24m, Ferrari around $30m and Renault, because of French laws etc, is around $40m.
      So the choice is clear, the cheapest PU/oil/fuel is also by far the best

  3. Jonathan Kelk says:

    Yay, they are showing the races live on ITV4 in the UK :)

    1. Michael says:

      Gee. Does this mean that the FIA realises that you televise events FREE TO AIR in order to gain renewed interest?

      Heaven forbid…

  4. aezy_doc says:

    There’ll be a soundtrack running throughout? Cue Benny Hill theme tune…
    I like the idea of the series, especially city centre races, but why the silly gimmicks? ‘Fan boost’ and musical accompaniment… might just have to watch this silent series on mute.

    1. Richard D says:

      Quite agree, if it need gimmicks it’s bound to fail!

    2. Mitchel says:

      I agree too. When I hear of ‘fan boost’ I think of the branding company ‘Perfect Curve’ from TwentyTwelve pitching it.

      Incredible. As in, not credible.

    3. littleredkelpie says:

      If this [mod] is the future, I am so grateful I got to enjoy the past.

  5. Jay B says:

    Formula E should fully utilise social media – capture the younger viewers and show F1 how it should be done.

    1. Curious says:

      do you agree with the idea of fans voting for who gets the power boost then? Not really a sport if fans get to vote for a driver to go faster than everyone else.

      Not sure I like the idea of sound effects for crashes either, all seems rather artificial.

      Formula E should be about racing and innovation, yes you want to attract a new audience but don’t alienate motor racing fans with this nonsense

      1. superseven says:

        I presume that the crash sound effect will be (descending tones) ‘ Wah Wah Wah Waaah!’

        Or possibly Homer Simpson’s ‘Doh!’

        Fan boost idea is extremely dumb. Hopefully they’ll see sense and ditch it.

        I think it’s televised on Fox Sports network over here, so I’ll check it out this September. Not sure whether it will hold my interest, though.

    2. Stephen Taylor says:

      They (Formula E) already have a youtube channel so that is a start.

  6. DB says:

    Fanboost is silly. I’m curious about the sound side and wary of the car swap.
    I’ll certainly check it out if it is broadcast to my region. Will it be online? I actually planned to attend until the race around here was cancelled.

  7. Richard says:

    Sounds for race starts, pit stops, and crashes? That is ridiculous. I won’t be watching it and I really hope this isn’t the future of F1.

  8. Anil Parmar says:

    There are some neat ideas in Formula E but they seem to only be targeting newer fans and not racing fans.

    I’m also confused as to whether this is being billed as a ‘sport’ or as a ‘entertainment show’, as ideas like voting for which driver gets a boost gets rid of the sporting aspect of it. I also don’t think young people are stupid enough to fall for this twitter thing and I think they’ll see right through the fact that it’s unsporting. It could work, and I’ll actually be covering it for a magazine, but as for its potential I’m not so sure..It’s already turning off motorsport fans and I’m not sure if the amount of new, dedicated ‘young fans’ will eclipse those that aren’t interested.

    I’ll be at the test this week..hopefully I’ll grab a few pics of the drivers!

      1. Anil Parmar says:

        Will do James :)

    1. Scott77 says:

      Will you be making your own sound effects?

  9. Peter Swaab says:

    Being 26 I’m right in the target audience for this, but If this is the future of motor sport, well, it’s time to explore some new hobbies and interests.

    1. Peter (and everyone else out there bemoaning the dull racing and artifical nature of the elite classes of motorsport) do yurself a real favour and get along to a local kart race meeting. The events have non-stop action – as soon as the last driver leaves the track after the chequered flag falls the next group of drivers are being let out to form up and start their race. A full day of action – and usually access is free.

      You get:
      Noise – screaming race engines with no artifical sounds AND you get to hear the tyres squeal under braking and through the turns.
      Real Racing – no artifical aero aids, push-to-pass buttons or driver votes. Just real, balls-out, daring dives without tyre preservation runs or fuel saving.
      Accessibility – you can get into the pits, meet the drivers and their families, get to know the personalities and enjoy a great community.
      Action (and plenty of it) – from the little cadets through to the crusty old racers who have been there and done it all but gone back to karting for the thrill. Spins, overtaking, karts climbing over each other (and, yes, it’s a non-contact sport but whoever let that get in the way of nudging a driver wide in a turn to get past them?).

      See where the next crop of stars will come from. Most drivers in the elite classes these days made their start in karts (Hamilton and Rosberg being lauded as two prime examples having been team mates). Some even have their own kart brands (Schumacher, Alonso, Vettel, Trulli). Unfortunately, with the action they have to offer you might find yourself becoming even more bored and disinterested in the likes of F1.

  10. Spyros says:

    What do I think?

    I thought it was really interesting, until I heard the one about fans voting who driver gets some extra horsepower.

    So now I think it’s yet another artificial joke. Such nonsensical rules, at a time when we are trying to voice our exasperation with all the artificial nonsense in Formula 1, really REALLY don’t help.

    But unlike F1, I don’t have any sentimental attachments to FE, so I simply won’t watch it.

    Sorry. But please do let us know if common sense prevails and parity is restored.

    1. James Clayton says:

      “unlike F1, I don’t have any sentimental attachments to FE, so I simply won’t watch it.”

      Too true. I was totally excited about FE when it was first announced. Then comes along FAN BOOST and now Sound Effects – no way I’m going to watch such a farce.

      Both in F1 and FE people talk about needing to reach out to the younger audience. So can somebody please show me some valid market research that goes some way to proving that the younger generation want races that they can interact with, and which have sound effects playing along.

      I said it before and I’ll say it again; they’re going after a market that doesn’t exist while cutting the throat of the golden goose. If I was 10 years younger, and in the ‘target market’ I would be offended that people think this is what I want for a series.

      1. Spyros says:

        I really want to believe that you’re right, that the 15-28 year-olds would be offended at this ludicrously patronizing idea, that unless something has sound effects and they can vote on it, they’re not interested…

        …but then, there’s Simon Cowell.

        Oh well.

      2. Spyros says:

        Sorry, that should have been ’15-20 year-olds’.

  11. Tara says:

    I’m so excited about this series. I hope the coverage is first class and broadcast in full hd worldwide.

  12. Miha Bevc says:

    I would like to know where it will be possible to watch it. I don’t know about UK, Germany, France an other big countries, but there is no way any TV station in my country will broadcast it. Will I be able to watch it online?

    I will keep an I on this series, but F1 will stay in my focus. But who knows, there might be some good ideas in it and F1 can learn from it. But definitely not “fan boost” – this is one touch too much.

  13. Andrew Carter says:

    I predict this will have a rather dull first year. The tracks shown off so far have all been short, twisty affairs without a single long straight or high speed section amongst them, combined with the low power of the cars it’s a recipe for boredom.

    The idea of playing sound effects to the fans is as tacky as any of the gimmicks F1 has recently introduced like standing starts after safety cars and double points, though at least we don’t have the fans deciding who gets extra boost yet.

  14. Vincent says:

    “the races themselves will have a soundtrack running throughout, so there will be sounds for pit stops, crashes, starts and other moments.”

    Makes me think of the organ playing in the NBA or Baseball and would probably appeal to an American audience. I can’t see this doing much for fans in other countries though, but I suppose its worth a try.

    This could fall flat on its face though if they get it wrong, “comedy” sounds IMO tend to undervalue the sportsmans (or sportswomens!) contribution and play down their efforts for a cheap laugh.

    1. IJW says:

      I can imagine the leader having the Benny Hill tune running whilst being chased by the cars behind. :-D

      1. Spyros says:

        That’s if there’s a snake of cars, none of which are closing each other.

        If one of the cars behind starts to close in on the leader, surely they should switch to ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ theme. Although this may make the chaser seem a bit… mean, so perhaps the younger viewers won’t pay to give him a power boost.

        So perhaps a more upbeat tune would be appropriate. ‘Inspector Gadget’ maybe?

        All-in-all, the idea seems to be that we ought to switch Mr Ecclestone for Mr. Cowell and Co. The latter certainly knows how to sell questionable new things to young audiences… and leave everyone aged 25 and above completely uninterested. Hint-hint…

        Anyway who knows, maybe it will actually look like racing, rather than reality TV… from some angles, anyway.

  15. Bjornar Simonsen says:

    “There will be sounds for pit stops, crashes, starts and other moments.”

    Sigh…………….. The money people never seize to disappoint. The problem of too much fakeness cannot be solved by adding more fakeness(!)

    This is a new series, yes, so we have wait and see, but I don’t believe one can solve a problem by using the same kind of thinking that created the problem in the first place.

    Einstein said that by the way.

    1. Spyros says:

      I think you’re referring to ‘his’ definition of paranoia… in which case no, he didn’t actually say it, it’s a fake quote.

      1. aezy_doc says:

        He did say it, but it was in private so no one ever heard him.

      2. Bjornar Simonsen says:

        Doesn’t matter, the point still applies.

      3. Spyros says:

        On that, we definitely agree.

    2. Grant H says:

      In terms of fakeness the fan boost thing is the biggest joke, whats the point on a sport if the results can be scewed by fans, fed up with money ruining sport

      1. Edward H says:

        I agree. What’s worse is that the majority will only vote for well known drivers/teams, I.E. For Bruno Senna, or for Venturi GP drivers as the team is co-owned by Leonardo DiCaprio. So it is not a fair system as I can’t imagine, for example, Franck Montagny (Remember him?) being particularly popular amongst the “Younger generation” Formula E seeks to attract.

  16. Martin Elliott says:

    Still can’t see the link between an open wheel racecar and an in-city vehicle. Unless of course its the lack of noise (music instead ?) and lack of range; is it true a pit stop is a change of vehicle like MotoGP?

  17. Erik says:

    Bring it. If they can maintain a field for 5 years or so it will stay for good.

    The regulations should stay open to allow engineers the freedom they carve in F1, the rules should stay loose so that not every racing incident is punished – unlike in F1, the essence of driving the car should stay in the drivers hands, not in overtaking aids etc. Do that for 5 years or so and the gen y brigade, buried in their smartphones will lift their heads to see what the fuss is about.

    Then it will become about keeping their attention. Good interactive content, accessibility to the cars and drivers – NOT just tickets to grandstand seats behind 15 foot metal fences, an open and simple rule structure, and relevance to thier every day life. The Samsung Galaxy Prost team, the Virgin Mazda 3 team, the McLaren Pepsi team, etc. Patries, social media events, interactive video games on mobile devices with REAL world prizes, then everyone in that demographic will start to wonder what that 100 year old other grand prix series run by bickering elite old men is all about…

  18. Mikeboy0001 says:

    I hope manufacturers get involved in this, and soon we can have different chassis and more important, different electric engines
    I will definitely follow this season to see how it goes
    A race with a soundtrack… well it’s crazy, but it just might be a really good idea
    How about they get the “Drive” movie soundtrack for the first event, and then talk to Nicolas Winding Refn to find music for the remaining season?

  19. rasbob says:

    “the races themselves will have a soundtrack running throughout, so there will be sounds for pit stops, crashes, starts and other moments.”

    Oh FFS.

  20. AndyFov says:

    I’m enthusiastic about this new series and think electric vehicles are great in general. We run a Nissan Leaf, and though it’s completely impractical for long runs it’s absolutely brilliant for 90% of the motoring we do; the school run. grocery shopping, nipping to the post box, etc.

    To anyone interested, Paul Ross (of all people) argues the case for really well here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pC0qgwdhH4k

    Anyway, I’m used to people scoffing at the notion of an EV, haven taken Jeremy Clarkson’s opinion on the subject as gospel. I’m also well accustomed to people thinking it’s an eccentric choice, but it’s really not. More ought to be done to inform the public of the advantages of EVs, and to that end I think this series can only be a good thing. I’m looking forward to it, and hope the racing’s close and exciting.

    I’ve some reservations about that sound effects idea, mind. What’s the point of that?

    1. Spyros says:

      I absolutely agree with your take on EVs. I’m also absolutely certain that if the fan-voting thing is kept in place, I won’t watch it.

      Reality TV is bad-enough without cars.

      1. Random 79 says:

        And conversely cars are good enough without reality TV :)

  21. Kieran Donnelly says:

    Definitely interested in checking it out – there’ve been some brave and noble attempts at new racing series e.g. A1GP and Superleague

    I guess the main question for now is what TV coverage there’ll be?

  22. Rick says:

    I think it’s a great idea and I look forward to following the results. Good to see so many top notch drivers involved and hopefully we will see more female drivers as well. Hope it is successful. I wonder if there will be regular TV coverage?

  23. Kevin says:

    I got a preview earlier this week. I drove past a local golf course and the cart boys were pulling the carts out for the day’s festivities. Lots of paint trading and gesturing. All they needed was the soundtrack from Batman and Robin, along with the “Blam” “OOF” exclamations. I hope the organizers from Formula dumb are reading this……….. Instead of watching the new series, I’ll just park at the golf course and watch the boys there, that way I can choose the musical accompiament to suit my moods. Stupid series, the gimmicks are perfect for it.

    If there was a bright spot, and there won’t be, it would that FIA would stop using F1 as a social experiment and let them build proper race cars that could be RACED for two hours instead of paraded around.

  24. MWR says:

    Instead of playing music throughout, why don’t they play some engine noise? (sorry, couldn’t resist).

    I’m a massive F1 fan and I’m interested to see how this develops – most of the ideas are a bit different(!) but you can’t really judge the positive/negative effect of them until they’ve been put into practice.

  25. Random 79 says:

    “However budgets are capped, so no-one can get a significant advantage by spending more”

    Am I safe to assume that by being a brand new series F-E hasn’t yet been bogged down by petty politics and in-fighting and so can actually get things done?

    If so and if it can stay like that then I think that can only be a good thing :)

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      Politics and motor sport go hand in hand I’m afraid, and I can’t see FE being any different. Like Montoya and burgers, they were made for each other.
      Do you know what, I bet the food venders around Silverstone miss old Juan Pablo. He was a very loyal – and regular! – customer to the burger vans dotted around the site. Perhaps that he was so quick around the British circuit – the faster I finish the race, the quicker I can get my hands on some juicy burgers, with all the trimmings please.
      Oh, by the way, Mark W is with us on the BBC this weekend. He still looks a bit too thin to my eyes, hopefully DC and Eddie can point him in the direction of a good steak, chips, mushrooms and onion rings…………..

  26. JOS says:

    So James, will there be a new website, JAonFE?

  27. Gavin Campbell says:

    I’m afraid its a great idea but unfortunately its doomed to fail. Starting off with a spec series and moving to competition is a difficult one – in my experience there’s not a whole lot of overlap in fans and the debut season will be so key. The first season should at least have seen the teams run their own chassis to start off with or keep it only as a spec series.

    Ridiculous ideas such as fan boost are atrocious and far top any of the awful ideas F1 has had over the past 5 or 6 years.

    The idea of racing in or very close to large population centres is spot on for this series, they’ve got a good mix of drivers and teams but WHY did they go and ruin it. To start off with the only people interested are likely to be race fans of one shape or another, how do they think they can invent a new formula and shout over the top of F1, Football, Cricket, Rugby, Cycling, Athletics and the glut of American sports that are already established. It will be fans of motorsport who will take this up first of all.

    Yes to Formula E as a sport not a reality sports entertainment show. Ridiculous.

    As for TV coverage in the UK its headed to ITV I believe

  28. moxlox says:

    Well they could have bands playing at the side of the streets like in the London Marathon, to give an event atmosphere – seeing as the cars are presumably silent. Sound effects are gimmicky though.

    Formula E is an interesting concept. But the thing I most dislike about it is the need to change to a second car mid-way through the race. This for me completely destroys its green credentials; how does production and transport of double the number of cars sit with its purpose?

  29. Ross Newsome says:

    FE is at least trying to attract a younger audience.
    F1 worries about attracting a younger generation to watching and introduces standing starts after SC – good one, guys.

    I’m not bothered about the ‘Social’ aspect, but I think it’s important that the series is accessible to watch. I wonder which would get more interest, broadcast on ITV4/BT Sport or live broadcast online? It has the opportunity to break the shackles of selling TV rights, as lets face it, a TV network won’t pay much for it.

  30. David B says:

    I think this series has great potential as a concept and will rival F1 in the long run but not for some time yet. However with F1 destroying itself with double points rule, DRS, driving to a fuel setting, and podium driver interviews by actors and rock stars, the timing may be right for Formula e to pitch a fan base. Will definitely watch with interest.

  31. Richard D says:

    When I read the first paragraph, I thought it was saying that three former F1 champions were going to be driving, then I read on to find that they were merely at the launch ceremony! However, it is good to see that some capable drivers have signed up. It would be interesting to see how the FE cars performance compare to F1? Maybe one day there will be a crossover with E and 1 competing together!

  32. Chaz says:

    Sounds like a cool series to watch develop… but the the “fan boost”… uhmm… no.

    As for the sound track and bands it seems to be a panic reaction to the fan crap storm F1 has over the low noise issue. Needless distraction really…

  33. VJ says:

    I would follow it a bit, as I like the general idea. I think it will become more interesting after it no longer will be a spec series though.

    But please, for the love of god, no gimmicks. No speed boast given by vote, no music, no sound effects. Getting the fans involved is nice, but that can be done by providing the fans information:
    - e.g. fitting the cars with a 360° camera like Mercedes (or was it Williams?), which can be streamed
    - more technical info on the cars (which driver has which setup), battery levels, lines chosen by drivers
    They could make the coverage more high tech: the moment when drivers switch between cars allows for analysis of the driving, ghost cars to compare lines, etc. Allow (parts of) the race to be reviewed as in a driving simulator computer game (all angles, first person views, …), perhaps even allow the fans to drive in the simulation afterwards, to see if they would have managed an overtaking manoevre or not. Or other aspects.
    But nothing that influences the race. The race is the race, and should not be influenced by voting.

  34. Wade Parmino says:

    Zero emissions? Perhaps, if one is ignorant of the law of conservation of energy. The cars may get the energy from a wall socket, but the energy travels to the wall socket from (most likely) a coal or gas power plant. I can’t be bothered actually doing the math for the whole energy transfer process from fossil fuel to battery pack. If someone can be bothered, please let me know what the overall energy efficiency is compared to an internal combustion engine which delivers similar power output.

    1. VJ says:

      A few days ago, Germany had a moment where 1/3 of the energy used was generated by renewable sources (wind/solar). Ok, it was on a holiday, so demand for energy was lower. It all depends on how the energy was generated.
      While I agree that at present, the zero-emission statement is off the mark, it does not hurt to start preparing for the future. Even if the Formule E race would be slightly more polluting (which is not impossible!), the development race it might spark could be enough to justify it anyway (and if not, than a few seasons of Formula E will not be a main source of pollution anyway).

      So yes, perhaps greener, perhaps not greener now, but either way a great development/research case regardless. And if that comes with some nice racing, I’m for… :-)

    2. J. Fred Muggs says:

      Spot on.

      All this “electric vehicles have zero emissions” posturing is just politically correct propaganda.

      And the notion that engineering developments will transfer from these racing cars to street cars is a naive idea which any F1 engineer would find laughably absurd ( if you don’t believe me, ask
      any F1 engineer and see what they say ).

      It is all “bread and circuses”, and should be analyzed accordingly.

      1. Duncan says:

        So you’re saying that thousands of small fossil fuel engines are more efficient than one large one?

  35. Matthew says:

    If they want to reach the younger crowd then they should stream the series online worldwide, with viewers able to select the language. No chance of it being shown here in Canada on TV, and the net is where people are starting to watch programs more and more. I’d pay a small fee (per race or per season) to view the races online with a choice of what commentators to listen to.

  36. Matthew M says:

    Was happy and excited about it until i heard fan boost is an actual feature and music being played during races…

    Seeing as how theres bands playing hopefully they’ve thought it through and put the races on during school holidays and not dead in the middle of exam periods..

    It starts in September 13 right? dead in the middle of when Australian teenagers are getting into thier Exams. So you can rule out that market for the first half of the season..

    I want to see Formula E do well but at the same time. The vote for a boost and music is not my thing and I certainly wont be watching it. Goodluck to them though hopefully they are successful it would be a shame to see nice looking cars and a championship with potential with all the investment thats being put go to waste.

    1. Matthew M says:

      Looking at the race calender it looks for uneasy reading for thier intended market atleast in my part of the world.

      There are school Holidays in Australia starting i think last week of September and then its another 8 or so weeks of exams. Around mid December they get thier breaks over Xmas so Uruguay might be a hit or miss for audiences. Argentina is a garuntee for ideal timing. I only see 2 races of the 10 that are scheduled during Aussie’s school holidays. with the 1st 3 races scheduled during heavy exam periods.

      1. Matthew M says:

        Just finished talking to some friends in singapore/Malaysia thier exam periods are also during September – october Putrajaya Might be another one that misses its target audience

        James is it too late to change the dates of some of these events?

      2. aveli says:

        do they have a target audience? pop idol wasn’t interactive until they audience disagreed with the judges choices.

  37. finster says:

    In my opinion the whole concept of totally electric racing cars is absurd. Then add recorded music, recordings for pit stops and crashes? I believe E racing is a novelty that will flop. Before the series gets off the ground it’s riddled with gimmicks. If I want music, I’ll go to a concert. What drew me to racing in all its forms was the SOUND of a racing car, whether its F1, sports cars, Indy, Nascar or drag racing. Take away the sensory overload and all you are left with is the equivalent of playing a video game while listening to Pink Floyd, Give a choice, I would opt for Floyd. Forget the Black and Decker series.

    I’ve found it difficult for F1 to hold my attention without the scream of the engine this year, even on the tv. Formula E, for me, would be the ultimate sleeping aid. Even worse than baseball. I will not waste my time tuning in to it,or following it. Electric motors are inherently boring when it comes to racing. They have their place in the modern world, just not in a racing car as the sole power plant.
    Envision fans going on social media, Faceboob, twitter,my space and doing what most social media sites are used for, insulting people you don’t know. Well I’ve had my rant on on F-E.. I hope no one is offended as that isn’t my intention.

    Be safe

    1. aveli says:

      they are right about making it more interactive but they just don’t know how to make it interactive. why would anyone want to watch a sport they know the results will be manipulated? we watch sport to find out the outcome, ask roger federa and he’ll tell you the same.

  38. Keith says:

    One of the things about F1 that I find most disturbing at present is the level of telemetry sharing.

    Nico being told Lewis is breaking 10 m later in corner X, GPS monitoring etc etc.

    Damon Hill has recently pointed out this is in effect stripping off talented drivers advantage (he actually referred to Lewis having the advantages as he had figured out early season – thereon this advantage being taken by the engineers and passed onto other drivers.

    If the sport continues this way – I can see more fans becoming disenfranchised. I do appreciate the need for simple instructions such as your losing time in corner x – now go figure!

    I want sport and competition – where the best drivers figure things out – not simply take another mans data session by session to copy and remover their competitive advantage.

    Personally I think we are seeing this played out by Lewis always having the raw pace but hiding it till qualy – then he is almost testing the real limits for the first time in qualy.

    Ultimately F1 will become more about the manufacturers and thereon disengage even more fans. – I would suggest most fans. Identify with drivers and treams – but they need personality to liven it up – a driver to favour.

    I hope This new series recognises F1s misdirection and shoots for the hole F1 is leaving behind.

    1. aveli says:

      if they don’t want to share data then they shouldn’t bother gathering it. the new f1 rule, no data acquisition.

      1. Spyros says:

        That’s what NASCAR does, and it works for them.

      2. aveli says:

        stopping data acquisition is too much of a culture shift for f1. bigger teams will find ways of acquiring data while the poorer ones suffer.

  39. Victor says:

    How are they keeping control of the costs? May be something that F1 can learn from it, after all.

    1. aveli says:

      greed will not allow f1 to cap.

  40. Colm says:

    James, what’s the story with the very high noses on the cars? I thought the FIA was all about driver safety now, or is it that electric cars are not considered a ‘danger’ in the event of a T bone collision? The car look sweet in comparison the F1 cars, which are shocking!

    1. aveli says:

      they copied f1 and forgot to follow progress as their attention was on meeting deadlines.

  41. Madame Battery says:

    When I first heard about this series, I was excited.They had chance to try something fresh and unique, it felt like there was support for electric racing. What I can see now, is that they are trying to take the lead from F1 on idiocy front. Why couldn’t they just put up a new racing series?
    Fan boost is a perfect platform for corruption and has nothing to do with sport. Pretty much equal to DRS. Fake sound? I love my bicycle more than ever.

    There was quite an interesting film called “Who Killed the Electric Car”. Today, I’m afraid I know the answer.

  42. goonerf1 says:

    Let’s have a vote…….

    Who thinks they will be watching Formula E in 5 years time?

    Reply Yes or No

  43. James says:

    Crash noises? I hope there aren’t any serious crashes. Music playing throughout? Sounds like one of those bike race meetings that comes on ITV4. They get a decent crowd, so I expect there will be some turnout for this, faster racing. Fan boost? Sounds like something from an Alfa Romeo concept.

    I had high hopes for this….I guess if I watch it in the spirit it’s intended I will find some enjoyment.

  44. john says:

    This will never replace F1, but may in time become a substantial rival, if it can be proven to be serious racing, with ideas that capture the imagination. My own interest in F1 is waning, and I hope to find in F E, a replacement that sparks my interest. Make F1 a chimera of concepts and the pure racing side falls apart.

    1. aveli says:

      it’ll be interesting to see how long they survive.
      only if they were solar powered.

  45. roberto marquez says:

    I would like to see a race on a hilly city to check how they climb. I also hope ,as it is going to be an street affair they dont show a kid on a skate board going faster than them.

    1. RodgerT says:

      Go to youtube and seach for clips of the Mitsubishi at Pikes Peak.

      Although not FE cars EV’s do quite well going uphill.

  46. Johnny Canuck says:

    A soundtrack playing all the way through? Is this just for the broadcast version, or is it supposed to be heard by the fans at the track? If the latter, I wonder how loud it would have to be to be heard over the noise of the cars? Or are the new cars so quiet that it won’t be an issue? Either way, that sounds pretty mickey mouse, but not nearly as daffy as the idea of fans voting drivers a boost in power. No wonder Ecclestone always refers to racing as “the show”, as do the American promoters. Social media is fine. Involving the fans is fine. But when the fans start affecting the racing, it isn’t a sport anymore.

    Worst -case scenario …… the new series creates a generation of fans who have no interest in racing unless they can directly influence the outcome in some way. Of course they wouldn’t care a whit about F1 …. where’s the interactivity? So Ecclestone uses this as an excuse to make Formula 1 about flashing lights, loud music and even more gimmicks. What’s next, letting the fans at home steer real racing cars with their joysticks?

  47. Chris says:

    Can see this series folding within a few years!!

    If the FiA want a new series, why not ask F1 teams to run B teams at B races in-between actual grand prixs, or even at Grand prix weekends? Perfect for their test/backup drivers and a hotbed for young engineers with last years F1 cars as their base for development!

  48. aveli says:

    i think this series is doomed just like a1. electric cars are not the future at all, the future is efficiency and electric motors are not efficient at all. f1 going hybrid has leaped into the future. hybrid is the future because internal combustion engined cars are a lot more efficient than electric cars so hybrid engines lifts the bar that much further, leaving electric cars far behind in terms of efficiency.
    the idea of fans voting for a boost is ludicrous! promoting dictatorship. what is their idea of racing if external people can influence the outcome?
    i think a side car racing series with hybrid engines would be a lot more successful than electric car racing

    1. RodgerT says:

      ICE’s are around 25% effecient on average, electric motors are closer to 80%. The biggest problem the EV’s face is energy density in that it’s harder, with todays battery technology, to have 300+ miles worth of energy on board an electric car than it is to have the same range’s worth of gasoline on board.

      Hybrids are a stop gap allowing better effeciency than a regular ICE powered car and better range than EV’s until battery densities catch up with petroleum.

      1. aveli says:

        ice’s efficiency is measured from burning fossil fuels to providing motion and your quote of electric motors is from electricity to providing energy. do you think that’s a fair comparison? think about the processes involved in converting energy from fossil fuels into electricity and then converting electricity into motion and you’ll notice that electric motors are no way near as efficient as ices. now add the energy involved in making the batteries. very time energy is converted from one form into another, some of it is wasted as heat, light and sound.
        now you have a better idea. electric cars are not the future nor matter how great a battery pack is invented in the future. hybrid ices are the future. only solar powered electric cars are more efficient.

  49. Howard P says:

    I just had a worrying thought to how they would advertise it. It’s not at all impossible that the marketing team would come up with a a different driver saying a line in the following format

    “Formula E is coming! But what does the E stand for?”
    “Energy!”
    “Excitement!”
    “Entertainment!”
    “Exhilaration!”

    (everyone)
    FORMULA E, COMING THIS SEPTEMBER

    (cringe)

  50. RCF says:

    The technology bits and the engineering bits sound interesting.

    The fan voting is a huge turnoff for me though. I’m not sure, but is there any other sport on the planet that allows fans to give competitors a physical advantage? My guess is this series would be the first. And hopefully the last!

    The music and the noises – again a huge turnoff. First time I read it, images of the old Batman TV show with the comic book sound effects came to mind. Ultimately this series needs to stand on its own – competitive racing using cutting edge machinery driven by talented drivers – sans the gimmicks.

  51. Rob says:

    This smells of Baby Boomers trying to determine what the Millennials want by sitting around in some 19th century clubhouse and smoking cigars as they discuss what their grandkids are like.

    You know what Millennials dislike? Artifice and cable television. Do you know what they crave? Authenticity and connectedness.

    Oh, and a significant number of them can’t wait for their stupid transport to start driving itself already so that they can focus on a less mind-numbing activity.

    So I don’t see them going for “loud music” and “Fan boost” as anything but old farts trying to cater to them in the lamest of fashions.

    Try opening the pits to fans, and allowing the drivers to communicate directly with their fanbases in a way that once in a while, someone you know (if not you yourself…) actually gets to connect with the driver for a few sentences and exchange some pleasantries…

    That, and multicast a number of simultaneous feeds on them internets and give away the post-race audio-visual rights to let the tweenie youngsters who like to do video mashups do whatever they want…

    “Fan boost”… -_-

  52. Ben says:

    I’m interested in this, but the music and fan boost (this could easily be rigged!) are terrible ideas! And please broadcast it online rather than doing deals with TV stations, I’d even settle for full race re-runs on YouTube.

  53. BenM says:

    I’m interested in watching this series.

    I’m not thrilled by the idea of FanBoost. If they feel they must “engage with a younger audience” then it would be much better if it was via users interacting to provide a boost to drivers in some more random way, rather than voting for a specific driver.

    James it would be interesting to have an article from one of your tech guys that discussed how the cars are put together and how they are expected to perform relative to a current generation F1 car. For example reading the specifications on the Formula E website I notice that the cars only produce 200kW at maximum power which is only going to be used in practice and quali. For the race they are going to be restricted to 133kW except when they use Push to Pass or are given a FanBoost. Given a weight of 800kg that’s a pretty poor power to weight ratio for a race car – F1 cars are more like 1.5:1 versus 4:1 (at 200kW..it’s 6:1 at 133kW) for the Formula Es. So I assume they are making all their speed from their instant torque, although I can’t find a torque figure for the FE cars anywhere.

  54. Matthew says:

    I will be certainly giving it a go and watching , would love to get to the tests.

    as for all the gimicks . i’m trying not to slag them off before seeing and trying them, there has been times when watching F1 i would like to see a tighter finish after a dull race , and if i could vote for someone to have a boost near end of race who is in 2nd to get up to and hassle 1st i think i would vote :)

    and thats what it is about…

    also i could see me voting for someone in 1st place , if it looks like maybe his first ever win etc, and he deserves it , why the hell not … better then nodding off near end of races like i have done sometimes :)

    1. Matthew says:

      ps., love the idea of the commentators arguing about who they will give boost to :)

  55. Jim says:

    I hope it succeeds, but doubt it. Already mentioned other failed attempts in these comments. The one that springs to mind for me, was the grand prix masters series. Thought that was a fantastic idea, but that still failed.

  56. Neil says:

    Formula E. One has to say the idea is interesting …. but with lots of good and bad ideas in the presentation. I for one will watch it with interest and reserve my decision ,as it go’s though the ‘start up’ races. I am sure changes will be made as it gets settled as a series.

    I just hope its stays with Free to Air TV …. otherwise I would say it is doomed. As I woud add, one day F1 might realise, if you want people to watch it. Or will it just become another millionares playground.

  57. Ben Ellis says:

    The average age of a F1 fan I am told is 35 and that is likely to continue to get older unless F1 wakes up and starts becoming relevant to a younger generation. If F1 doesn’t appeal to a younger audience you are unlikely to have brands such as Red Bull sticking around, you are likely to get SAGA plastered over the cars.

    Having been a lifelong fan of F1 and not too far off 35 I have two major gripes. The races are too long. Don’t get me wrong, I could watch wheel to wheel racing all day. F1 isn’t that, half way through the race it becomes a “managing” phase which is boring and doesn’t translate on TV ( noone knows why Lewis for example may have dropped back 5 tenths from Rosberg for example in the Austrian Grand Prix).

    Secondly, there has been far too much dominance by a single team. Ferraris Schumacher period was tedious, Red Bulls recent dominance and now Mercedes. I ask myself, what is the point of Marussia and Caterham. Its not like they are getting huge tv coverage being at the back. (I would suggest 3 cars per team would be a great idea, inter team rivalry would be immense, maybe even coallitions form in the garage against one of the drivers)

    My Sunday F1 order of the day is: Watch the grid walk, watch the start, watch the first 15 laps, distract myself with my smart phone during the managing phase and regain concentration for the last ten laps. You can compare F1 to football and say football has their boring matches, but they play over 40 games a season. F1 only has 19 to get right.

  58. Daniel says:

    I hope they do well, as a battery and eV expert, I know the energy density of metal air cells, with enough on board energy, the cars can use more power for longer periods. This tech is coming quickly so the current structure is simply a place marker for what is to come. Mark my words with in ten years these cars will be able to use slicks without worrying about rolling resistance. Their power will rival that of the turbo engines as the DC rail voltages exceed 1200v to 1600v. You will get ever smaller more efficient and powerful motors. If they are allowed to run 2 or even 4 motors and use 4 wheel drive with torque vectoring you will see aceleration the f1 cars can not touch and low speed cornering that will make an F1 car look like a road cars. If done right this series could easily out perform f1, but unless you know the industry you have no clue of is true potential.

    James email me if you need articles and info that proves this.

    1. Matthew M says:

      thats a great comment.. very insightful.

  59. Alex says:

    I’m not really impressed by what I have heard so far. The two cars per driver, fanboost, music for crashes etc all seem quite strange. I will certainly give it a try though, curious to see how it will play out. At least it looks like it will be on ITV4 in the UK so no subscription to pay so it’s worth a shot. If it’s good then great, if it’s laughably bad then either way the first race will be a must watch ;)

  60. Monktonnik says:

    Completely behind this.

    Like the technology, drivers, venues et al.

    I don’t mind the fan vote idea either.

    But how will I see it? Will it be televised, or streamed?

  61. mem says:

    much as i thought this was exciting to start with . formula1 has show that the lack of noise diminishes the spectacle. Its like berni shot himself in the foot trying to prempt formula e.
    Also will they actually race? would a crash run the risk of electrocuting someone?
    so all we see it tame parading of ‘the future’ .

    1. Alex says:

      You realise of course that Bernie has been extremely vocal from day one that he didn’t want these engines?

      One quote for example “I said it was going to be like this – a total farce. They (the FIA and the teams) insisted on these new engines. If they wanted to race like this they should go to Le Mans.”

      I’m actually not too bothered about the new engines but if you’re going to blame someone for the noise at least throw spears in the right direction :)

  62. Steve W says:

    I’ll be interested to see if the TV commentators talk real quiet like they do with golf…

  63. FAB says:

    Go figure…2 guys who were team mates at Toro Ross are now racing here…and a bunch more from F1…wow…and 1 team owned by a F1 guy…wow

    I am curious what the budget cap is…we know there is one…but what is it…

    Do these drivers actually get paid?

    Too many questions…just gonna have to watch it…who knows it might be fun.

  64. Gary Linksted says:

    So, cue the music! This will look on my tele something akin to Mario Kart. Silly music and sound effects will be like playing a Nintendo game, but perhaps that’s the idea, to get the 5 year olds watching. I will watch the first race, with interest, but that interest will be to see if I can Tweet the car in last place enough times to give it so much boost that I can cause it to crash into the car in front? Once that’s happened and I have stopped laughing at the comedy sound effect that is played over the crash I just caused, I’ll switch off as will definitely be bored by then.

  65. German Samurai says:

    I really don’t care. I’ll tune into the first race to see how they sound. If the racing is good I might continue to watch.

    But to me it’s just another minor category of racing. I get my fix from Indy Car and GP2.

  66. Amit says:

    We need to have races at Macau and Imola. F1 too!

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