It’s an exciting time to be a Formula E fan. We’re just days away from crowing a new world champion, on the cusp of the next generation of electric racing cars and staring down the barrel of 100 races for the sport. And looking back on more than 5,000 miles of electric racing, how far has the series come?
After the first race for Formula E kicked off on September 17th 2013, the sport will host its 100th event in Seoul, Korea, on Sunday. And what started with mid-race car changes in a sport clamoring to claim legitimacy has grown into a certified World Championship that attracts millions of viewers every race.
“I am so proud of where we are today compared to where we were 100 races ago, eight years ago,” says Alberto Longo, co-founder and chief championship officer at Formula E.
“I remember when we first started thinking about the idea of having this championship and how hard it was.”
The idea for Formula E came about in 2011 when the series’ boss Alejandro Agag met with then FIA president Jean Todt to discus the possibilities of an all-electric single seater series. After two years of research, development and driver signings, the sport was officially recognized by motorsport’s governing body, the FIA.
Longo says: “The 27th of August 2013 when we signed the agreement with the FIA. That was the first sort of big moment of the history of Formula E because that was the validation of all the work that we had done over the last two years.”
A year later, the lights went out on the series’ first race in Beijing, China. That even saw drivers compete in two different cars, as the initial racers couldn’t manage the full 45-minute duration. It was eventually won by Lucas di Grassi, who this weekend will become the only driver to enter every single Formula E race since.
“Back then, all the people that we knew were kind of laughing about this venture that we were thinking about. And now, look how far we have come,” adds Longo.
In the 97 races and eight seasons since, Formula E has crowned 14 different race winners and six different world champions.
The sport has also introduced a raft of innovations such as Fanboost, which, love it or hate it, has helped raise the profile of the sport across social media. It also brought in Attack Mode to bring strategy back to the sport and added periods of extra time for safety cars.
The technology has also had a massive upgrade over the years. With the move to Gen 2 cars, drivers no longer needed to switch vehicles mid-race and the new Gen 3 models, which will debut next season, are promising speeds up to 200mph.
“When we went from Gen 1 to Gen 2, you could actually see that the technology was starting to work,” says Longo.
Despite its evolution and growth, the series’ founders aren’t resting on their laurels as they approach race number 100.
Longo adds: “Now, we have a world championship that is performing the most spectacular races in the world in the most amazing cities in the world. And with fantastic teams and for sure the best lineup of drivers that is out there.
“We are really proud of what we are doing, but also we have a lot of pressure. We like to put pressure on ourselves to become better and better every day and every year. I think we are achieving that step by step.”
So with 98 races and counting completed for Formula E, it’s definitely time to start getting excited about the future of all-electric racing.