Formula E is embarking on its sixth season this weekend, and if you aren’t already watching, this is the perfect time to get in on the action. We can all use a little more motorsport in our lives, and what better way to get your off-season fix than with some eco-friendly open-wheel cars?
Seriously—FE is great. It’s still young enough that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the regulations still require most of the cars to be spec. That has the added bonus of making the racing a lot closer and a lot more fun than it is in plenty of other forms of racing (I’m looking at you, Formula One), but the fact that EV tech is still so new means that you can still get your engineering kick.
So hop on the FE hype train and get excited—we’ll do the heavy lifting to tell you what to watch out for. All you need to do is show up.
The FE season is pretty condensed. Starting this weekend, the series will contest 14 races in 12 different countries around the globe. All the buildup for a race—such as free practice, qualifying, and autograph sessions—all take place during the same day, and the races themselves rarely last longer than an hour and a half. If you’re more familiar with the three-day race weekend format capped off by prodigiously long races, FE is a great low-commitment series that doesn’t compromise on quality.
Here’s where the series is going this year:
Because it races in city centers around the world and its goal is to bring the magic of electric race cars to the people, Formula E’s calendar changes pretty much every year. This season sees two new cities, Seoul and Jakarta, and an all-new race circuit in London. London also returns as the season finale double-header for the first time since the 2015-16 season, replacing New York.
This season will see 12 teams entering FE with 24 different drivers. There have been a ton of changes ahead of this season.
Porsche and Mercedes are both making debuts this season, which is big news for the series. More and more big name auto manufacturers are getting interested in the whole concept of EV racing, and it shows. There are no performance guarantees, but it’s expected that both teams will kick their fair share of ass.
Making their Formula E debuts this season are Formula 2 champion Nyck de Vries (Mercedes-Benz EQ), two-time World Endurance Champion Brendon Hartley (GEOX Dragon), Nico Müller (GEOX Dragon), and 2017 GT World Endurance champion James Calado (Jaguar).
And, in peak FE fashion, there have been a ton of seat swaps, with one driver taking the place of another at a different team. We’ll spare you the details, but you can find everything you need to know about who has ended up where here.
This season, I’d keep my eye on Jean-Eric Vergne. The DS Techeetah driver will be defending his titles from seasons four and five this year, and he has proved he’s not going to let anyone push him around. He isn’t afraid to get down and dirty when he needs to—and it’s part of what has made him so successful.
Formula E is kicking ass and taking names. Seriously. The series has actually been turning a profit ahead of its sixth season and has done a damn good job of retaining the younger crowds that many other racing series have struggled to attract in the first place. If you need a measure of success in the 21st century, money and youth is probably it.
FE has had some pretty great successes off the track, too. An incredible documentary about the series’ fourth season, And We Go Green, may just be the one of the best-produced racing documentaries ever made. You can buy yourself a sick LEGO FE Jaguar car. Hell, teams are even getting involved in interactive livery reveals done via Twitch, a platform most frequently used to stream video games.
This year, there’s an expectation of more refined racing as a result of six years of experience under many teams’ belts, along with more overtaking. Sure, there are still some gimmicks—Attack Mode, for instance, which is a certain area of the track that racers can drive over to gain more energy—but it comes from a good place.
FE is still open to trying new things—to changing rules, implementing new in-race opportunities for passing, and trying out differing formats—all in the name of keeping the racing exciting and fresh. And that’s the biggest thing distinguishing FE from many other racing series: it’ll scrap everything and sample something else if only it’ll improve the racing and get people interested.
Also, for some reason, there are basically only five colors appearing on the grid this year. I don’t know why. The future, I guess, only has two color schemes: red/white/black and turquoise/silver/black.
Watching FE in America is, unfortunately, infamously difficult. Formula E’s website has its own feature that tells you where FE will be available in your country, but when it comes to the US, fans are generally stuck with offshoots of Fox Sports that often aren’t a part of the normal cable package.
This Friday's Diriyah ePrix, for example, will air on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports Racing. I know that I sure as hell don’t have those channels available. And we here at Jalopnik will always keep you up to date with the Weekend Motorsport Roundup.
When in doubt, take to Reddit. Most FE subreddits will offer unconventional viewing options, and there’s also an entire subreddit dedicated to sharing streams for racing events.
Find ways to watch can be frustrating, I’ll admit—but it is so very worth it to seek out FE. I promise!
Now this is a little bonus, but a truly astounding number of brilliant writers and journalists dedicate their time and efforts to covering Formula E. If you’re serious about the sport, these are some of the people you need to be following:
- Hazel Southwell. Along with being a Jalopnik contributor, Southwell is the person to follow for any and all FE information. She has the best insight, analysis, updates, and memes, along with a phenomenal sense of humor. If you have a question, she has an answer.
- Ryan King. King is one of the smartest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of talking to in motorsport. This man is a formidable encyclopedia of information—stats, race results, obscure history, you name it. He even livetweeted a race from 125 years ago!
- The Inside Electric Team: Rob Watts, Katy Fairman, Peter Leung, Rebecca Jod, and Southwell spent the off-season putting together a free publication dedicated to electric racing. These are some of the most passionate—and knowledgable—people in the business.
- Other great journalists: Sam Smith, Tobi Bluhm, and Noor Amylia Hilda. All three are smart and funny; you can count on them for great takes and even better content.
- Spacesuit Media. Absolutely gorgeous photography from Lou Johnson and Shiv Gohil. I won’t hesitate to say they’re two of the best photographers in motorsport overall.