As season five of the Formula E championship rapidly approaches, I have been spying plenty of you on social media pondering if the hype for the all-electric championship is actually real. Well, Ladies and Gents, I am pleased to confirm that the rumours are in fact true: Formula E is one of the best championships motorsport has to offer.
Don’t worry, I was once like you. Living my life in the dark, thinking that roaring V12s were motorsport’s best and only offering and anything below that would send me to sleep – I grew up a nineties baby for goodness sake. Heaven forbid I was to ever find myself watching a motorsport championship which produced little to no noise at all (not true by the way), solely battery-powered even, but then along came Formula E. It was new, innovative and fresh and as my interest in championships like F1 took a dive, Formula E was there to remind me why I fell in love with motorsport in the first place.
It was fast, action-packed, risky and ambitious. Overtakes were common, battles on the tight and twisty street circuits left you on the edge of your seat and the calibre of drivers involved left you knowing that you were not only in safe hands but would be promised some fantastic racing – which is exactly what you got. Tonnes of it.
Alright, so I may be slightly bias as someone who has watched the championship flourish from an intense inaugural race around the streets of Beijing, Nick Heidfeld finding himself flying into a barrier after an on-track battle with Nico Prost in the final corner, to the nail-biting season finale last season which saw Jean-Eric Vergne crowned the fourth different drivers’ champion in the sport’s four year history.
With such an instant connection to the series, I knew this was the championship I wanted to cover as I began to explore a future in motorsport journalism. Having been a part of this championship now since the very first season, I have been able to watch it grow both internally and externally. I have gone from people making whining whistling noises and taking the mickey when I say I cover Formula E, to them having a real interest and hugely positive opinions. The shift in attitude is happening and it is all for the better.
So, you are still doubting that Formula E will be for you? That is cool. This is why I am here and why I have spent my Tuesday night sat at my laptop, to convince you to join the dark side. Shall we start by addressing some of those rumours?
Noise. Probably the most popular question I get asked is “aren’t the cars really quiet?” followed by a comparison to scalextrics or some unpleasant attempt at a squealing noise. Yes, the battery-powered cars don’t grunt, roar or send chilling vibrations throughout your body as their ‘engines’ start up, but they don’t pretend to either. Instead they make more of a jet engine sound. It is difficult to explain as it is something I had never heard before I started writing about Formula E but it is unique and something I actually really like the sound of. Naturally, the sound is also what allows the sport to race in bustling city centres across the globe, whether that is chucking the cars around the scenic streets of Rome or the pretty parts of Paris. The sooner you get over the fear of not being able to hear the cars coming from a mile away, the sooner you can embrace the sport for what it is. Plus, in all honest, you will forget about the sound when you’re watching from your television screens or trackside at a race.
Speed. No, the cars are not slow, far from it actually. With a maximum speed of around 174mph, the drivers spend most of their time throwing their cars around intricate and intense street circuits whilst battling for position, rather than going for a Sunday drive. With the new additions of ‘attack mode’ introduced this season too, drivers will have plenty of opportunities to keep speeds high during the race weekend and put it towards more overtakes that the championship is so famous for.
Drivers. If I proposed you a racing series that featured a grid consisting of drivers that between them have achieved four Le Mans wins, two WEC championships, a GP3 championship, a GP2 championship, three WTCC championships, a previous and current DTM champion, as well as over 500 separate F1 entries between them, you would have to pick your jaw up off the floor. That is the calibre of drivers in season five alone and doesn’t even include the heaps of experience in series like SuperFormula or IndyCar.
Pretty outstanding if you ask me, yet some of you still won’t give it a try.
With a car that looks like a futuristic Batmobile, a sport that is pushing forward the next generation of technologies, a standard of drivers which is the finest motorsport has to offer and on-track action which I promise is some of the best available in this current day and age, to me Formula E is a no brainer. As we welcome a new generation to the sport this weekend as season five gets underway, make this the season you offer Formula E that all important lifeline and fall in love with racing all over again. You won’t regret it.