Porsche, Audi and Mercedes… Formula E is about to explode!
Formula E has sat on the fringes of world motor sport since it’s inauguration in 2014. A window to the future, a novelty which introduced us to fully electric motor racing. A distant prospect at first, it is now totally undeniable that Formula E will eventually become the spearhead of motor sport in years to come.
The Championship has seen steady growth in its primary years. Season 1 featured privateer teams funded by rich folks looking for a bit of positive publicity. Only Renault and Audi were on hand to represent the ‘manufacturers’. Big name celebrities building awareness of environmental issues – it seemed like this was all a huge publicity event. Hardcore race fans pinned Formula E as a bit of joke.
I followed along with this attitude. I couldn’t see how fully electric cars (of which two were required to complete a race distance) could create any kind of spectacle. I’ve since taken a casual interest, watching races when I can and just keeping a general eye on proceedings.
Now, three years later, I am beginning to see the enormous potential of these electric cars. Season 2 saw the introduction of a third manufacturer in Citroen, while the racing itself continued to deliver intrigue. The drivers’ World Championships in 2014/15 and 2015/16 were decided in final race showdowns, and while this year’s Season 3 has seen Sebastian Buemi dominate, the title is still set to be decided at this weekend’s final race. A stark contrast to a certain other Formula of motor sport.
A truly global sport
As Season 3 draws to a close, Formula E now boasts 5 manufacturers in Renault, Audi, Citroen, Jaguar and BMW. No single Formula has been so diverse in years. Formula E has brought these companies together with a common purpose, a doorway to the future and that doorway is beginning to tempt bigger and bigger names to the Championship.
The commitments being made by true motor sport giants are proving the standing of Formula E. Mercedes have recently announced their withdrawal from DTM in favour of fully electric racing. That is a story that I never thought I would see. Mercedes have been a part of the DTM and touring cars in Germany since 1988, the two are synonymous.
Following that announcement, Audi and then Porsche have both announced they will cease their involvement in the World Endurance Championship and Le Mans series and switch full focus onto Formula E. This is a truly meteoric moment for world motor sport. The news leaves Toyota as the sole remaining LMP1 manufacturer.
An opportunity to build something spectacular
What effect is all this going to have on Formula E? Well the one thing that still leaves me cold is the lack of speed and ferocity from the cars. While Formula E cars are hardly slow, they do not sound or look as though they are racing hard enough. I had my first in the flesh experience of a Formula E car at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. The initial acceleration is mad, but the cars hit their peak too early. An overall top speed of 140 mph is just not quick enough. They look slow.
It is still early days of course, and overall, Formula E has been more successful than anybody could have imagined, and now Porsche, Audi and Mercedes have all pledged a huge amount of funding to this project. With those three manufacturers pushing each other as hard as they can, there are sure to be astronomical improvements in the cars and the sport in general.
These announcements are going to help the series in more ways than that. Those names are some of the biggest names in motoring, not just sport. Millions of people worldwide own cars made by those brands. This is how Formula E grows, the fan base. The introduction of hugely respectable sporting icons is going to boost the credibility of the series by 100 percent.
This is the first time I have worried for petrol powered motor sport. Mercedes have pledged allegiance to Formula 1 for the time being at least, yet I wonder how much longer that will last if Formula E really kicks off. As for the WEC and Le Mans, they look to be in a pretty bad place right now. There is nothing in it for Toyota to just race themselves. The seismic shift has already happened, I think I’d better start paying more attention to the racing of the future.
(Feature Image: Basheer Tome (CC BY 2.0))
(Feature Image: Basheer Tome (CC BY 2.0))