It’s finally happening: Formula E is considering getting rid of Fanboost. And honestly, it’s about time.
Basically, Fanboost provides three drivers with extra power during the last parts of the race, which is determined via fan vote. It’s been with the series since its first season in 2014, with votes being counted from the Formula E website after there were accusations of rigging via social media.
But new CEO Jamie Reigle has indicated to RaceFans that the series could get rid of Fanboost for the introduction of the Gen3 cars that will be coming for the upcoming 2022-23 season. Here’s a quote from Reigle:
“Is Fanboost still serving the purpose that it was originally conceived with, in terms of providing that connectivity between the fans and the race product in a really authentic way?” he asked. “Whether it affects the outcome is a slightly different point but there are no other sports, there certainly weren’t when we started, where fans could have that direct impact on the sporting format or the sporting outcome.
“We’ve done a lot of work in the last year around making sure that the Fanboost concept has high integrity. For example, we stopped using Twitter as a voting platform because there were some concerns from some of the teams that it was open to manipulation.”
“What we’ve tried to do is refine the concept in the near term, I think we have to ask ourselves, as we go into Gen3: what are the core principles of Formula E and what are we trying to achieve?
“We have a responsibility to look at all those elements, to say ‘are they core and are they contributing to improve the experience for our fans, our guests,’ etc. And I don’t think there’s any sacred cows there.”
Fanboost, as a concept, was fun for a while—but after accusations of rigging, where certain drivers were said to be awarded Fanboost due to bot-derived votes on social media, it got old. Many people have pegged it as another gimmick the series had introduced because its racing wasn’t up to par with other series. The addition of Fanboost to certain cars was also accused of causing mechanical faults in the cars it was awarded to, especially in the first season.
It can be a great concept. During the most recent Monaco ePrix, Fanboost provided drivers with the ability to make some late-race passes for the podium positions. It was enjoyable to watch and didn’t feel forced, but that isn’t always the case.
The racing in FE is already good, but it can be overshadowed by things like Fanboost or Attack Mode, which certain folks argue create more artificial competition and immediately discount the series—which is unfortunate. At this point in its lifespan, the series doesn’t need these other elements that are designed to create more engaging, fan-based racing. The racing is engaging. Fans are involved. And I agree with Reigle: it’s time to reevaluate whether or not Fanboost is serving its initial purpose, or whether or not there’s a better option that can achieve the fan element of Fanboost.