Any new global motorsport championship which lasts its first four seasons has to be viewed as a success. Especially one such as Formula E, with its innovative all-electric cars, all-street calendar and growing roster of manufacturers.
Now the series is preparing to say goodbye to its first-generation machines and mid-race car swaps. With the new season four months away, @HazelSouthwell considers the state of the series.Formula 1 a year-on-year audience growth that beyond exceeds expectations and heads into only its fifth year in a position where cities are vying to host its rounds.
That’s all good news if you’re a fan or – for instance, like me – you make your living in some way surrounding it. It’s also genuinely good news for broader motorsport, which has seen across-the-board declining numbers and particularly in top-flight single seater series. Formula One, in particular, has suffered from being hidden behind a paywall – and it’s not just me saying that, Chase Carey does too.
So, even if you hate the series that should be viewed positively. And wow, do some people still hate Formula E; the insistence that it’s not ‘real motorsport,’ the reaction that it’s an offence against ‘proper’ racing continues.
There’s that old adage about first people mock you, then they hate you, then they fight you, then you win. Let’s not pretend that we’re entirely through all phases of that but it’s taken as the path to success for a disruptor brand, a business that doesn’t comply to the norms of its industry and by doing so successfully, changes the way that other businesses in the industry have to respond.
Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag absolutely considers the series to be a disruptor – it’s the word he uses most often to describe it. As far back as 2014, before we’d even gone racing, he said “Formula E is ‘disruptive motorsport’. Absolutely everything is new and pioneering. We’re trialling the unknown – the beginning of the electric motor sports era. “
He’s said it a lot since. It’s not an unfair label – disruptors upset people and agitate their more traditional counterparts; probably why Ross Brawn is bothering to pass comment on a series magnitudes smaller than Formula One currently.
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All so far, so punk. But there are some dreadful lessons in the history of disruptive upstarts. One particularly memorable example would be BrewDog, the Scottish craft brewery that has ridden the changing face of the UK’s beer consumption to its foamy crest. Back in 2010 it was two men making a beer based off the name of a pretentious book, while everyone asked why and pointed out that 55% ABV at £700 a bottle, stuffed in a dead squirrel is not exactly what you were looking for in the local.
BrewDog springs to mind because at the time I loathed them. Their stupid stunt beers, their ridiculous names. The actually unpleasant flavours they concocted. The fact it was twice the price of a pint of something I might want to put in my mouth even when it wasn’t encased in taxidermy. It was very much Not Real Ale.
Well, more fool me because now everything tastes like that and costs that much. And I find myself grudgingly acknowledging that refusing to go in any craft beer bars for years now just means I don’t see my friends. And I keep going to BrewDog’s stupid pubs because actually they have quite comfy booths and they do nice burgers. I lost, BrewDog won and honestly at this point I guess I kind of like it.
On the other hand, as a multinational and multi-hundreds-of-millions a year business, the fact they offer share options as ‘equity for punks’ feels a little disingenuous. They’ve annoyed the people they wanted to annoy (me) and finally we’ve been broken down into seeing it their way or at least putting up with it and thus the disruptor becomes the normative.
Formula E isn’t there, yet. It isn’t anywhere near there. I don’t know if they’ve ever considered making an Electric IPA but there’s no need at the moment to create the sensation of being upstarts by getting into it – the fact of it is still entirely real. Every single time I tell people I’m a Formula E journalist someone says “oh, but it’s not real racing is it?” And then usually confesses to not actually watching motorsport anyway.
Without straying into existentialism, though; Formula E has lost a bit of its total scrappiness. Which is no bad thing – back in season one, Renault looked entirely mad to have jumped into bed with the series. European viewers might not have clocked Mahindra for the scale of automotive brand they are at the time but anyone who did might well have thought the same. Manufacturers in a spec series? With diddy little electric cars tootling round streets?
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It worked out rather well for the early adopters. Renault have left the sport, at the end of this season, with three teams’ championships. Mahindra had a rockier start but were leading both drivers’ and teams’ championships after three rounds of season four.
Meanwhile Jaguar’s entry in season three left them on the back foot, floundering and coming firmly last in the teams’ title. They moved up to sixth this year – and a podium finish – with a car that, if it hadn’t quite mastered the efficiency some of the other teams have achieved, had at least found the speed. Team boss James Barclay described them as the ‘most improved’ and it’s hard to dispute that, albeit starting from a regretfully low benchmark.
Jaguar aren’t a disruptor, though. That’s not knocking them, it’s just they’re a relatively old-school company and while their announcement that they won’t make pure-ICE vehicles from the year after next is gutsy, they entered Formula E because it brought them disruptive credibility and gave that decision context, rather than because they’ve torn up all their own rule books.
Formula E certainly still considers itself a disruptor. It commissioned agency Prophet to totally rework its brand before the start of season three, when purple chevrons and a new, jagged typeface suddenly started appearing. Their philosophy had been to entirely divorce it from its larger comparator, according to a partner at the company “The answer was to stop trying to compete with Formula 1 and move the goal posts completely,”
Something Formula E’s taken on, this season. Although the drivers remain keen to point out it boasts one of the most competitive grids in terms of getting seats – and that there remain no pay drivers in the series – they’re also vocally fed up of being asked about comparisons between Formula E and Formula One.
It works, as a disruptor. Of course if you look at something like BrewDog then in reality their premise – of selling provocatively-named beers that announce how challenging they are to you before you even open them, thus flattering the consumer if they successfully enjoy them – is one that the beverage industry and indeed specifically beer companies have been using for decades, if not centuries. It’s just that they had the foresight to repackage them as looking entirely different from the keg of Dead Badger that had been on tap in the pub in your parents’ village for the last thirty years.
The thing is to get buy-in based on that. To bring in, say, ABB as series sponsors, sure but also to get manufacturers to commit their own products and say this is something they want to be part of. Formula E has a massive – if unfortunate – disruptive bias here in that the entire planet is heating to unbearable temperatures and it’s become increasingly obvious we need to do what we should have done three decades ago and address carbon dioxide emissions.
Which is another thing that FE’s detractors hate, of course. Odd, since electric vehicles, as of currently, represent the only manufacture-viable road alternative in the short-term; hydrogen vehicles may well be a better solution for, say, haulage but they aren’t commercially available and neither is the gas.
For a disruptor, Formula E has the automotive industry in the chokehold it’s placed the environment in; if you want to sell cars in a lot of countries in the near-to-middle future, you had better find out how to make electric ones.
Disruptors tend to brand with a sort of dystopian borderline-nihilism. Formula E’s problem is that it’s not depressing enough, in some ways – it attracts a growing youth audience, with 13-24 year olds its fastest-growing demographic, digitally; as someone who has worked with youth brands, I know full well how gold-dust like that is. Especially with something like motorsport, which has struggled to maintain, let alone gain a youth audience.
I asked one of the youngest drivers, Alex Lynn, whether he thought Formula E had a genuine appeal to young people and was surprised by his answer-
“I think it really does. I think in general, younger people – I’ve got a younger brother who’s sixteen years old, my sister’s nineteen – so I see with that generation, people are maybe less interested in cars in general and are more interested in what phone someone’s got, what laptop someone’s got. So I think what Formula E appeals to is 100% a new generation.”
That bit seemed fair – Formula E showcases new cars in a way that older motorsport fans might not like but which appeals to the sort of techie who will wait for new product announcements. And then hopefully fall in love with the sporting side. What Alex went on to say was different though – and why Formula E can and must continue to pull off a disruptive role –
“The big thing about Formula E, whether you’re drivers, whether you’re teams, whether you’re manufacturers: it’s our job to make it exciting because it really is the future. The best thing about Formula E is that even amongst the drivers there’s a real sense of … I’m going to use the word ‘responsibility’ to prove that electric racing is entertaining, fast and furious and that the cars are cool to drive, with technology that’s saving the planet.”
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Alex is 24. His other job is driving a honking great Aston Martin GT car around in WEC – if the idea that consciously saving the planet has become something he honestly wants to make cool, it’s because he’s of the generation that knows it has to.
Electric cars are a difficult solution; they are expensive to make, they do have a carbon cost to creation (mind you, this is far from non-existent in petrol or diesel cars) and depending on the country, grid-charging can be fossil fuel generated still. On the other hand, the extent of their environmental failings has been greatly overstated – battery life is looking to be well over a decade in normally-used road EVs and the carbon deficit in creating an electric vehicle vs a combustion car is returned in between two and five years of use.
Saying that makes people really angry. Which is why Formula E has to remain punk, in a way that Formula One can’t hope to emulate. The most recent F1 rebrand, which has seen video game-style graphics and videos slogan-ed ‘engineered insanity’ slapped across broadcasts and social channels, is their own attempt to appeal to a younger audience. It’s not (totally) misguided and it may well work or at least is an attempt but it comes as a showcase of authority, not an invitation to rebellion.
Formula E is simultaneously going through the mocking, hating and fighting stages, as it heads towards season five. It can continue to brand as a challenge, its whole existence a genuinely different attempt at seeing the future – both for existing motorsport fans and their mixed feelings about it and people who have never engaged with the sport before. In an internet age, it’s a huge advantage. And a scary one.
A disruptor stops being plausible as one when it becomes the norm. Formula E is a long way off that. For now.
@DieterRencken’s RacingLines column will return next week.
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70 comments on “What did Formula E’s first generation achieve?”
Alex Lillo (@nordic)
15th August 2018, 12:31
I love that lengthy Brewdog rant 😂 But yeah great to have longer pieces to read, I’ll save this one on pocket to carry on later.
15th August 2018, 12:46
@nordic +1 to that, it was amusing to read about what I now realize are two things close to Hazel’s heart – FE and good beer :-)
Nice article as well, Hazel!
15th August 2018, 12:34
Thanks for the write up @hazelsouthwell! Interesting to see the drivers also feel this responsibility.
To me that is both a pre – drivers feeling they are part of the drive forward has to be a positive, it gives even more purpose besides winning (i.e. back to motorsport as a pioneer for road vehicles) and a con – it can make things feel a bit too much wanting to be different.
In a way it is interesting to see how competition in relatively small areas can both give manufacturers the feeling they are making a difference (see the variants in exact drive train even though the basics have been single sourced) enough to be there.
Ben Needham (@ben-n)
15th August 2018, 12:38
@hazelsouthwell – a really interesting read, thanks.
I follow Formula E, mainly because my brother works as a mechanic for one of the teams. I rib him that it’s “just a big scalextric” and that the drivers are mostly F1 rejects; but in reality, I do rather enjoy the races and can see what the series is trying to achieve.
While the world is moving towards renewable energy and considering the environment more and more, Formula E represents motorsports acknowledgement of that. I’m sure none of the drivers are in the series because they want to save the planet… in reality, offer any one of the Formula E drivers even a midfield F1 seat and I’m sure they’d bite your hand off.
I have only attended one race, in New York last month, so I can’t comment too widely on the atmosphere; but it felt a little flat. The silence on television is even more obvious in person, it’s visibly pretty slow and it did get boring in honesty. Nobody I spoke to in New York even knew the race was on, but then if it’s not going round on an oval, the US isn’t generally interested, so perhaps it’s not representative!
All that said, it’s young. It’s bringing electric racing to the world, developing technology, progressing and trying to address the flaws that it acknowledges it has. The first generation succeeded in my opinion and I’m looking forward to seeing what next season holds with a full race battery.
15th August 2018, 12:49
I went into Formula E open minded as i’m not as against hybrids, full electric & other alternative power sources as other Motorsport fans/Petrol heads are. I watched every race for the 1st 2 ½ years however I really started to fall out of it mid way through the 3rd season & didn’t watch much of the last one.
One of my complaints is been fixed (The car swapping) but other’s will remain. The reliance of racing on often dull street circuits that often require bumper car tactics rather than proper racing to make anything happen. Things like fan-boost & other gimmicks like this mario kart/f-zero/wipeout type boost pad thing they will introduce this year.
And there was also the overall presentation, I especially hate the stupid full-screen hud display they introduced to show telemetry.
Showing that info is fine but why they have to darken the whole screen & fill it with as many objects as possible is beyond me. It’s distracting & ugly as far as i’m concerned.
GT Racer (@gt-racer)
15th August 2018, 12:51
Hazel Southwell (@hazelsouthwell)
15th August 2018, 12:58
@gt-racer In the UK, for sure; the UK has had a pretty troubled broadcast history with FE (it keeps getting passed around, not shown live, on a confusing sub-channels, sometimes only on Facebook Live…) and because we lost the Battersea race, promotion (as the broadcasters do absolutely none) in the UK has virtually stalled. It’s weird because C5 paid for Vernon to be sent to every race and yet then… didn’t really do anything with it and kept shoving it on 5Spike or cutting off broadcasts.
There’s a strong rumour C4 are going to do a better job with it next year; but the UK figures do not reflect the overall global rise.
15th August 2018, 13:29
Good to know that C4 are picking up FE. I can’t wait to enjoy all of the races.
15th August 2018, 22:02
Slightly off topic (sorry!) If Channel 4 are picking up FE it probably means that they haven’t managed to secure any kind of F1 package…
Personally I’ve watched each season of FE & wish the series well. However I’ve begun to find the racing a bit dull and the strategies a bit predictable…
15th August 2018, 14:57
Channel 5 were a terrible broadcaster for FE. 5Spike! Really?! There was no consistency and it’s not like they were relegating it from the main HD channel for anything important. Utter stupidity if they wanted to get their money’s worth. I’m glad they’ll no longer be involved.
On the other hand, the commentary team (and even Vernon) were excellent. Shame I’d already jumped ship to watch on Eurosport by the time the race started.
15th August 2018, 16:53
If we are talking about coverage – that’s a problem for me in Germany too @hazelsouthwell – initially it was available from FIA website; but then it went to eurosport (I have 1, but not 2 and often it’s on 2 – but I’d only need that for ~half of LeMans, and FE); then, halfway through last season I found out (no advertising at all) that it was switched on to DMax, a channel I have, but now I think it is on eurosport again. So, in the end, I haven’t been able to follow the seasons as well as I like.
Hazel Southwell (@hazelsouthwell)
15th August 2018, 19:01
@bosyber ah, I’m sorry to hear it’s a pain in Germany as well. FE can’t charge F1 rights money, of course, because the audience is a fraction of that – and it seems to leave broadcasters really careless with it. It’s frustrating when they are obviously making some investment on it but then perpetually move it around, don’t advertise it, don’t offer a consistent package for it to be viewed on, etc.
I’d be really keen to see FE try WEC’s route round this and have an app subscription to watch races. I understand completely that they need the broadcast figures for sponsors etc and that it’s important to them to try to get broadcast numbers but eg: streaming on Netflix or another web subscription service would better suit a lot of the young demographics involved. And I must stop writing about this before it turns into an essay but the bad broadcasting is so frustrating!
15th August 2018, 19:32
Sorry to say that currently where I live (in the Czech Republic) i am not even quite sure how to get FE footage (legally that is) @bosyber, @hazelsouthwelll.
There is no advertising for it at all. As far as I was able to find out it is one Eurosport and maybe on Sport 1/Sport 2. The latter are certainly pay tv, Eurosport is not, but is available mostly through O2 IPTV service, some cable providers (only very small over here) and Satellite. All of them are thus in effect behind a pay wall.
That means that really i only get to see the highlights and I am thankfull for the very good race reports I can now read here on the site :-)
15th August 2018, 22:34
In the end does it matter much though ? In France I used to watch it on canal plus along F1 but since f1tvpro (and Netflix for the rest) I’ve opted out and now between races on YouTube and post race edited versions more or less suffice (but I’m not a huge FE fan so I’m not much fussed).
The bigger arc is when will this won’t matter anyway ? Isn’t it more important to be well visible on YouTube future growth wise ?
Sundar Srinivas Harish (@sundark)
16th August 2018, 4:23
The YouTube streams do pretty well though. The comments are full of hecklers and hooligans, but its not bad. And these days sponsors are willing to do branded content on YouTube channels too, and I don’t see why they’d be averse to streaming channels. I, for one, haven’t watched television for well over 5 years, and even my parents have switched to streaming too. The only reason we’ve retained our satellite dish is that we AirBnB our apartment occasionally when we’re all traveling, and people in India still except television wherever they stay.
15th August 2018, 13:14
Is there one paragraph with not an interrupted thought in there ?
I mean, a long piece is fine but semicolon semicolon semicolon — disruptrors indeed
FE has achieved and surpassed the goals set by itself and certainly those coming from the outside, and tilting at the windmills to champion the internal combustion engine as the power source of the future is just silly.
15th August 2018, 15:28
I did find this article quite difficult to read. I will try to re-read it later as I’m interested in the topic. Hopefully next time I’ll get further than the fourth paragraph.
15th August 2018, 19:37
It’s fine, it’s an opinion piece. Very vox media like and that’s pretty good. You’ll have to allow yourself to meander with the written as she leads you through her thoughts on the subject.
15th August 2018, 19:41
Agreed. I found it a rather rambling article. It was an interesting read but I had to persevere through too many convoluted sentences.
15th August 2018, 13:29
Simply, the cars are too slow.
15th August 2018, 14:26
Yes, that’s exactly right. F3 cars are faster and F4 cars could probably beat the bulky electrics on the ridiculous city courses from sheer nimbleness. The series needs to allow the ‘manufacturers’ to actually produce something; until that happens development will be slow and the cars will stay slow. Boring barrier racing IMHO.
15th August 2018, 13:45
Great article Hazel, really enjoyed that. And glad to hear I’m not the only one who baulks at BrewDog’s seemingly endless range of undrinkable bile. Give me a dark London Porter any day.
Anyway, I like the angle of FE as disruptors. I’m not sure whether you’re a fan of sci-fi, but one of my favourite books is Frank Herbert’s God Emperor of Dune, which in many respects is a long treatise on the nature of power, aristocracy, and revolution. I’ll paraphrase, but Herbert (through one of the main characters) posits that every revolutionary is a closet aristocrat. That what starts as an energetic movement to unseat an established aristocracy (or bureaucracy) will ultimately come to replace it.
F1 does have a whiff of aristocracy about it. But it’s one which is being slowly transformed from the inside. But for Raikkonen, most drivers on the grid are now what is often sneeringly referred to as ‘millennials’. A demographic often scorned by the Rolex watch wearing, Emirates flying aristocrats who have for so long been F1’s target audience. I think this is one of the major, often overlooked reasons why F1 is dropping viewers so quickly. The older fanbase doesn’t like or identify with the modern drivers. Epitomised by Hamilton – a driver who has no lack of personality, who wears his interests proudly, but who polarises fans like no other. He’s representative of a generational shift in F1 – an inevitable one as older drivers retire.
Certainly Formula E shows the future of Formula 1. At some point F1 will make the transition. Or perhaps the series will be merged. Who knows. But there will be a revolution as the nature of F1 changes in a way it really never has. But perhaps where the revolutionary/disruptor analogy runs into a wall is in this being an inevitable reaction to societal changes. BrewDog are true disruptors in that they have created their own market niche. Formula E hasn’t so much instigated change, rather they are the first to react to it. ICEs are obsolete – not because electric cars came along and everyone prefers them. Formula E was always going to happen – it is an inevitability whose quantum probability was established from the moment oil was sucked from the ground and used as a fuel for cars. Formula E is disruptive not for what it’s doing but for what it represents – it’s the millennial generation of automotive technology. It’s the Lewis Hamilton of car propulsion. For the dinosaurs of the past, it’s as unpalatable as a £5 bottle of Dead Pony Club. But it shows a glimpse of the future – an inevitable future who nobody in F1 really wants to move to, but a future which will come to pass regardless. The choice is stark – adapt and survive, or stagnate and go the way of the dinosaurs.
15th August 2018, 19:50
I enjoyed the article too @hazelsouthwell. I think Schopenhauer’s theories might be at the back of Brawn’s mind when he reacts so hard to questions about FE. I have my qualms about FE (overall speed, anboost, changing seats and qualifying) but I watch some races and it’s ok. The risk will be when FE mutates into mainstream, that it keeps what makes them good (electric cars, music, driver line up, tight competition) and sheds the growing pains.
15th August 2018, 13:56
This reads like it was written drunk, sorry. The brew dog bashing was unnecessary. If you are a beer fan you like brew dog, but you sound like a pub drinker, not a true beer conosieur. There is no correlation with craft beer and formula E, it is reaching. I love this site, but this article is bad journalism, just a lengthy drunk thought rant. Probably the worst article I’ve ever read on this site, and I’ve liked 99% of the articles. My partner is a writer, so I know a bit about writing, and this just read completely off compared to your usual great work. The simile was terrible.
15th August 2018, 14:17
Quite ironic seeing people mention ‘gimmicks’ in FE when F1 has DRS and forces teams to run a part of the race on tires that don’t suit their cars.
FE is more road relevant if you take note of the massive developemnt for EVs in China (more Electric busses in one city than ICE buses in all of USA’s cities)
FE also has F1 runners McLaren, Williams, Renault, Mercedes already involved.
The only thing holding it back is the amount of juice a car can carry for long road circuits. As we saw with the VW Pike’s Peak car, EVs are now the fastest way up a hill.
15th August 2018, 14:17
As soon as they start running on road courses and the cars are as fast as say, Indycar or Super Formula, I will start watching.
Oh, and obviously drop Fanboost.
15th August 2018, 14:17
Formula E is a fun series to watch if you can. Yeah, it doesnt have some characteristics that F1 has & we love, but thats the point of its existence!
We have seen 4 years & the series were unpredictable, all teams could sprung a surprise result & more and more big manufacturers are coming into the series!
A big problem with FE, is their circuits. With the exception of Marrakesh & Berlin, all the other street circuits are messy & it makes it difficult to follow the race process. Heading into season 5, FE is at grown, with bigger names coming into the series. Looking forward to see the new cars in action.
15th August 2018, 14:26
Formula E is doing a great job, there is no doubting that. What it is also hard to doubt is that it is, comparatively speaking, cheap as chips to compete in hence why all those manufacturers are keen to get involved and tout their “green” credentials. I’m keen to see the Gen 2 getting raced in anger for the first time.
15th August 2018, 14:27
AFAIAC, all it achieved was to mock itself with the ridiculous fanboost and whatever else idiocy they thought would fit with ‘electric’..
15th August 2018, 14:45
Not really that interested. The first race I went to (1969) was Formula 5000. The second race was a Trans-Am. If it doesn’t make the ground shake or the birds scatter then I can’t get excited. That said, I have nothing against it and some of the races (I’ve caught) have had moments of excitement.
Pratyush P (@pratyushp276)
15th August 2018, 15:11
Disclaimer: According to purists, ‘not real motorsport’ = any racing series that doesn’t feature stonking loud supercharged V10s.
15th August 2018, 16:03
In that case F1 has never been real motorsport…
Pratyush P (@pratyushp276)
15th August 2018, 18:32
It seems that I need to work on my sarcasm…
Jimmi Cynic (@jimmi-cynic)
15th August 2018, 19:51
@pratyushp276 – Nah…you’re sarcasm is fine. Racefans needs to work on its purists.
15th August 2018, 15:19
For me it achieved nothing. It’s pure cheese.
15th August 2018, 15:44
It’s as dull as dishwater I’m afraid.. I have tried to watch it but I can’t get my head round slow race cars that sound like a milkfloat …
Dave F. (@dave-f)
15th August 2018, 18:33
Dull as ditchwater.
15th August 2018, 15:50
I just don’t like the circuits. It’s moslty straights, 90 degree corners and a chicane thrown in there. I am happy that it’s succesful but for now it’s not for me.
15th August 2018, 16:09
By far the worst motorsport event I have been too. Went to the Hyde Park race a couple of years ago. The facilities were terrible, the prices of food at the vendors was no different to F1 at Silverstone, the viewing for the spectators was, to be blunt, PATHETIC! Because of the concrete walls and fencing on top, you could only just make out the the tops of the drivers helmets, you couldn’t see any of the car!! and due to the trees you could only see about a 10 metre section. The tracks are too narrow, so the racing was just follow the leader pretty much. And the speed of the cars appeared slower than the BTCC. And I dont know how many times I keep repeating myself but electric cars are not the future for road vehicles, let alone motorsport!! It is a false prophecy. If the whole world was to jump to electric cars now it wouldn’t work as there are not enough power stations in the world to provide the electricity needed to charge them all. And unless the whole world switched to nuclear power stations….where does everyone think their electricity comes from?? In the UK 65% of all power comes from….yep you have guessed it…. coal burning power stations. So the emissions drop from everyone going electric would be countered by huge increase in power stations. But this just sums up the shortsightedness of us as a species. What all the great minds should be focusing on is separating the hydrogen from the oxygen safely so that cars could run on water, using the hydrogen to power the cars so that the only emission is the gas that we all breathe. But this will not happen until the oil companies lose their grip on the world.
Hazel Southwell (@hazelsouthwell)
15th August 2018, 16:23
@gubstar I agree that Battersea was a terrible track. Totally agree about the grandstands – having been to a heck of a lot of Eprix since I can comfortably say it was the worst by far, never been anywhere else with standing grandstands (dismal) or such difficulties organising.
Just to clarify, though; almost NONE of the electricity in the UK is now generated from coal burning power stations. It was true 10 years ago but the energy industry has wildly changed; you can see the tiny, tiny percentage that comes from coal now in this Ofgem (the energy industry’s regulatory body) chart. :)
15th August 2018, 16:29
fair enough, but there is still a reliance on the 3 main fossil fuels. And that is just the UK, a country that is affluent enough that it can impose the infrastructure for the green energies. what about the rest of the world? Electric cars are still not the future for everyone (not just the rich)
15th August 2018, 18:43
Way off the mark. Coal hardly goes above 20% in the UK and it’s been coming down.
As we speak Wind is 20.8 % in the UK, IIRC the record is nearly 30% and not all wind farms are being metered yet.
France is 97.5 % Nuclear and has a surplass when adding renewables that it sells abroad.
Also the big investors are already finding it more profitable to re-fit wind turbines way early in their lives because there’s been a recent breakthrough of up to 15% extra effeciency.
The average EV driver will only need to charge once per week at the very most. You already see people using renewable electricity doing everything they can to limit their useage. It’s a myth that we wont have enough power to charge our cars. The refining and logistics of getting fuel to the pumps uses a lot of energy that could charge a lot of cars. There’s also a lot of pollution from the pumps that is not so much talked about.
Germany is seeing a big uptake of Electric bikes as are Netherlands and Belgium who have an excellent transport infrastructure in place for bikes. More people cycle there than walk. It isn’t all about cars. The car centric countries like the UK that dominate our quality of life, are doing everything they can to keep us addicted to four wheels.
Nick Wyatt (@nickwyatt)
15th August 2018, 16:36
@gubstar I think you may be mistaken to claim 65% of electricity in the UK is generated from coal..
Hazel Southgate beat me to it, but here are the official UK Gov figures for electricity generation sources for 2015 and 2016.
2015 UK Totals
Gas 3.7 46.2 49.1 31.6 29.5
Oil and Other 2.8%
2016 UK Totals
Oil and Other 3.1%
2017 figures should be available shortly.
Nick Wyatt (@nickwyatt)
15th August 2018, 16:38
Oh, for an edit button!
In the Gas line for 2015, please ignore all the figures except the 29.5(%) at the end which shows overall UK as opposed to constituent countries.
Ed Marques (@edmarques)
15th August 2018, 17:12
It became the new darling for the ones who like to trash F1 for whatever reason.
Few years ago the hype was on WEC, now it changed.
I like the series, i’m not a super fan, but watch some races. It’s a nice alternative series for those who enjoy racing.
But compete with F1? Ludicrous. And that’s the my main trouble with FE. The cars are too slow and they race on pathetic tracks. The most ridiculous thing is when it’s drivers, managers, etc try to hype the series by taking jibes on F1, helped of course by some journos and fans who love downplay F1 for some reason (maybe their drivers aren’t winning…).
All in all a good series, nothing more than that.
Thomas Bennett (@felipemassadobrasil)
15th August 2018, 17:15
Speaking as a young(13) and avid motorsport fan( whether it be WRC or even Indycar as well as BTCC, F1 and FE) I must say that nor the ‘engineered insanity’ gimmick or strange graphics do anything for me. I am also in a tiny minority for whom motorsport appeals to in my demographic. Almost none of my friends have any interest in motorsport and none have said the reason why they don’t watch it is the fact there aren’t giant billboards saying strange phrases. I just don’t know who they are attempting to appeal to.
15th August 2018, 17:33
My problem with it is that in its current form, FE offers nothing unique that I find appealing. And the non-unique stuff isn’t as good as in other racing series… if anything, it’s gone backwards since the first few seasons.
I love motorsport in general. I’ve tried being a fan of FE, I’ve tried to pay attention, I’ve tried to follow it, but my mind just won’t listen. There’s no appeal, no stand-out reason for me to watch it, and no matter how much effort I expend, I just can’t convince myself that there is. I feel like a Liverpool fan trying to force himself to love Man Utd. It just won’t happen.
I’ll try again with the new cars, though. See if they grab me any differently…
15th August 2018, 18:23
People complain about various series not being exciting so they don’t watch, yet hardly anyone bothers to watch the most exciting racing in Karting. It’s also the sport that F1 drivers call ‘pure racing’ .
So it seems obvious that fans want more than exciting racing and overtakes that are so plentiful that you can keep count.
Fans want emotion and a good ego massage watching powerful noisy cars, even if it means a parade of them lap after lap.
Stephen Crowsen (@drycrust)
15th August 2018, 18:26
F1 will change because it’s the premier open wheel racing series. Technology changes, and that gives access to new ways of doing things, and new ways means cars go faster. It could easily be F1 will go to some sort of electric engine, but I don’t see it happening in the next 10 years simply because I don’t see how battery manufacturers could store the energy required to propel a car around a track at 300+ km/h for nearly 2 hours into the back of an F1 car.
Currently, if there was a race F1 format between a Formula E car and an F1 car the F1 car would win, but one day the electric car will win, and when it does then all the F1 teams will be wanting to change.
As it is, the current engines used in F1 are incredibly efficient, and if the current engine format is retained for a few years past 2020 then there’s no reason to believe that efficiency won’t continue to improve.
15th August 2018, 18:56
Volkswagen have just beaten five F1 cars’ times at the Goodwood Hillclimb. Do we really need 2 hour races to show off the latest technology? Will people in 5-10 years have a long enough attention span? let alone trek out to places like Silverstone and Paul Ricard. Have they installed USB charging points in the seats at Silverstone yet?
BTW the VW Pike’s peak car has 670 horsepower and 0-60 in 2.2 seconds. I find it hard to believe people wont be able to enjoying these cars for another 10 years.
Rally Cross could be the one to watch in 1.5 years going pure electric with exciting looking composite tub chassis not too dissimilar to F1 and also around 670 horsepower from two motors one on each axel. Williams are making the batteries.
Ed Marques (@edmarques)
15th August 2018, 23:12
So only watch electric series. Which is a thing that you don’t do since you are always ranting about things on F1 articles.
15th August 2018, 19:42
When Formula E was first announced, I was incredibly excited. Electric vehicles are the future of private transport, and motor racing is the perfect platform to showcase their capabilities.
Needless to say, I was disappointed. If anything I dislike Formula E most because it damages the image of the electric vehicle. Ugly, ungainly cars that can’t even run a full race distance on their battery even though they’re going slower than F4 and Touring Cars? Presenting that as the pinnacle of electric car technology is just bad press.
That’s before you take into account the mickey mouse, borderline joke race tracks, irritating TV presentation and hilariously bad gimmicks like fanboost that make a mockery of the idea of sport.
You could have been so much Formula E. Call me back when you’ve got more to offer than a bunch of F1 rejects clumsily bumping into each other in motorised carbuncles that sound like dentists drills.
15th August 2018, 20:08
Formula E is heavily restricted with the technology purposely crippled. Pity you didnt read about it before getting yourself over-excited.
For example Williams had removable battery packs up and ready for pitstop use, but FE couldnt risk any bad PR if there was an accident. Next seasons’ cars are going to be speed restricted too for safety reasons. They will be too fast for the tracks, yet the audience isnt and may never be ready to travel out of town, especially as all forms of motorsport are dying.
16th August 2018, 11:15
15th August 2018, 19:47
FE has a looooong way to go to win me over. Wake me when they can run 44 laps at Spa with competitive times. Until then it will remain a series for has-beens, and never-wases.
For the record, I may not look forward to the day when electric power equals their petrol power for performance and duration, but I do look forward to the time when electric is so much better it’s beyond comparison. Sure there are few hypercars with pricetags to match and one can tune a Tesla to expend all its energy for the dragstrip, but until the electrics can match their contemporaries for distance and outmatch their performance I’m just not interested. Also, they will NEVER have the eargasm that F1 used to be known for. Even the current F1-lite V6 turbo hybrids are MUCH preferred to the whine of FE.
15th August 2018, 20:10
Have you ever watch gearbox long circuit SuperKarts? They used to corner and stop quicker than F1 cars in the early days
16th August 2018, 11:15
15th August 2018, 19:49
I can’t get past the terrible circuits they use.
They’re always too narrow, too many chicanes and hairpins.
Berlin springs to mind as particularly terrible.
I think l only Mexico is any good and then that’s ruined with an artificial chicane.
I’ll keep following next season but I prefer to watch F2 as my secondary motorsport.
15th August 2018, 20:23
Tried watching the New York race….what a bore. I’m sure there are people out there that enjoy formula E races (just can’t think of any), but for me it felt like watching a movie on mute.
Sound is a critical part of the feedback loop in motorsport, and the way a car sounds is every bit as important as how the car performs.
Without natural combustion sound and the vagaries of a mechanical device, I’m just no longer interested.
15th August 2018, 22:13
This is true. So much so, that F1 become terribly exposed to its boring races once the volume level fell with effeciency improvements.
Formula E will become less of ‘Motor’ and more of a ‘sport’. Like cycling maybe.
Your ideal ‘sport’ I think would be Formula Thunder 5000. But for me the noise is overwhelming and archaic, and will get tiring very quickly. Loud noise is a spectacle, but really needs a lot of action to go with it, like with Monster Trucks.
Mangy Black Sheep (@mangyblacksheep)
15th August 2018, 21:34
Just when has ‘real motorsports’ ever mean loud noises? I grew up in and loved the V10 era, and even I say that’s ridiculous. Some people, I swear.
As for Formula E, I believe it has a bright future. I have watched the series from the beginning and despite its quirks, the racing itself is decent to good. I only have five notably problems with it.
1. The Speed of the Cars: Not a big problem, they’ve been working on it since the 2nd season and it doesn’t affect the actual racing. However, their lack of speed was really evident when I was switching between the FE season finale at New York and the Indycar race at Mid-Ohio.
2. Car Swapping: A rather amusing problem, but a problem nonetheless. However, barring any issues with the Gen 2 car, this problem is all but solved.
3. Track layouts: This is frankly Formula E’s biggest problem right now. The tracks are often bland and do little to enhance the racing.
4. Fan Boost: It’s nothing but a social media driven gimmick and it needs to go away. However, it manages to be less obnoxious than gimmicks seen in other racing series, i.e. F1’s DRS, Indycar’s double points finale, and NASCAR’s….everything.
5. Presentation: I know this is petty, but it would be nice if they tone down the modern sci-fi aesthetic. They’re just electric race cars, this isn’t Wipeout.
15th August 2018, 21:41
the main article is too wordy Im in the choir , Im a convert of all motor sports and races
15th August 2018, 22:23
A good thing with Fanboost is it has the potential to right the wrongs of bad steward decisions or lack of decisions at all , by giving a hard done by driver a little boost in the following race.
One of the biggest discussions in F1 is always after a bad or a lack of steward decision. Some of these have cost drivers World Championships so can’t see why there’s so much hate for Fanboost or something similar. I doubt it would be any worse if F1 fans could vote on certain incidents and action taken accordingly.
16th August 2018, 9:29
@bigjoe Nice thought, but supposes that motorsport fans are balanced, fair and unbiased which we know is very far from reality.
16th August 2018, 0:30
The whole FE/electric car thing is predicated upon CAGW (catastrophic anthropogenic global warming). this in turn comes from unreliable computer models that are little better than the weather forecasts from 100 years ago. They rely upon the same technology as the weather forecast today, which is accurate for what, 24 hours ahead?
The best predictor of the sensitivity of our planet to greenhouse gasses is the planet itself, which far from having the ludicrous numbers generated from computer models, has an equilibrium climate sensitivity of about 1.2-1.3degC per doubling of CO2. Or nothing to get excited about, given that the planet has only increased concentration by 42% since the start of the industrial revolution, and a substantial proportion of that has been CO2 coming out of solution as the oceans warm.
Then there is the temperature recovery from the Little Ice Age, not to mention the fact that we are still living in an Ice Age (look it up, it’s true).
CAGW is leftist nonsense designed to assist the concept of global governance.
Mangy Black Sheep (@mangyblacksheep)
16th August 2018, 2:16
1. I don’t know where you got your information about Global Warming from, but I can guarantee it’s nowhere trustworthy. However, this is a racing news site and not a forum for political rants, so I’m moving on.
2. Electric cars are not AT ALL predicated on Global Warming. Even if Global Warming wasn’t a major issue, the fossil fuels we rely so much on are a finite resource and will eventually run out. It is only sensible to seek alternative sources of energy and reduce the usage of fossil fuels as much as possible.
16th August 2018, 10:05
Your is a typical reply with no information and designed to shut down an inconvenient line of discussion. The author of this article more than mentioned CO2…
This kind of nonsense must be corrected, it comes from a handful of alarmist scientists and a compliant media who love an impending disaster story. In the past this planet has had CO2 concentrations way in excess of today’s levels and they were not linked to temperature. See
I do agree we should preserve liquid fossil fuels, for road transport methods, they are a perfect fit as evidenced by the progress of the ICE vs the electric car, both of which were conceived within a handful of years of each other in the 19th century. ‘Peak oil’ is however a concept that has been floated by environmental pressure groups for decades and has yet to happen.
Michael Brown (@)
16th August 2018, 15:56
I remember when parts of Florida were supposed to be underwater in 2013 and acid rain was going to kill us all.
16th August 2018, 13:05
My only live FE experience was Long Beach, California in 2015, we were there for a wedding. We didn’t know it was on and many of the locals didn’t either. I took my son for a look and we had a great day. Staff and security had no idea how to get how to get in so I asked someone from a team- ended up being Tonio Liuzzi, I didn’t recognise him until he turned around- he took us to the Paddock. Entry to the Paddock for both of us was something like $120US and my lad spent the morning having photos with many of the drivers as well as Alain Prost (ok, I was more excited than he was!)
The racing is close but I must say very slow if you compared to F1 of course. But I think the main point is they are not trying to replace F1, just have an alternative electric series. I really hope F1 doesn’t go that way ever, but can see the point of the series, its a good day out for a race fan but cant seem to keep my attention watching on TV.
16th August 2018, 17:34
they are doing some cool stuff with digital, e-sports etc.
but would be interested to know how many hard-core motorsport enthusiasts can fall in love with FE in its current format – slow cars, crap circuits.
u really have to be turned on by electric motor technology, otherwise it can’t really be up there with most series
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