The Miracle Of Formula E - And Its Rise Internationally
The concept is quite simple. Electric cars powering through tight narrow street circuits, with manufacturers putting their backing into certain teams. And although this may seem a quite basic concept, the foundations of a new series can be extremely difficult to get right. So how has Formula E caught up to the bigger series like Formula 1 and IndyCar in such a small amount of time?
It starts off with quite a simple point. The series is needed. Manufacturers need a place where they can test the new technologies of electric cars, as more and more of the industry slide towards the use of renewable/Eco-friendly fuels, so Formula E fits the gap in the market perfectly. Large companies are already involved, with the likes of the British car brand Jaguar praising its ability for the test-bed of electric technologies to be put in road cars, to such an extent that they have launched a junior series to Formula E (Think of the Formula 1 equivalent Formula 2), to ensure the sport remains at the top of its powers and continues growing. With more companies moving towards electric vehicles (See my article on DTM) as it is seen as a more profitable sport to join for both advertising purposes and technology purposes due to the technology going down to real-world cars like the new Audi E-Tron, as well as the growing pressure from governments and international organisations like the EU, its no wonder that companies like Mercedes are putting their weight in trying to build the fastest power terrain in the sport, as the technological development needs a place to start, and Formula E fills this role perfectly.
The second way the sport has grown is the locations. Formula One tracks are usually hard to get to and expensive, while Formula E has a different approach. Bring the Motorsport to the people. City circuits fill all the calendar, allowing for large amounts of fans to easily go and get involved in watching the sport, which also reduces the prices of tickets due to the ideal locations, making the sport even more successful and accessible. This increases the fan base and makes the sport more likely to survive and ensures it continues to grow. The countries listed are also very unique. A key difference between Formula One and Formula E is the locations of the tracks. While F1 is heavily dominated by European circuits, and although Liberty Media is trying to change this by introducing other countries to the calendar like Vietnam, it will take a long time for this to change. Formula E, on the other hand, is very diverse in where their tracks are. From the sun-kissed World Heritage Site track at Saudi Arabia, to the urban and compact New York City in the USA, Formula E continues to push the boundaries of countries which are seen as pro Motorsport, pushing the sport in bigger markets and gaining more fans in places where simply it is impossible for people who watch other Motorsports to see the series live.
The third reason is seen as a very insignificant reason, however, this is why viewing figures are so high. The accessibility of the sport is made easier due to the coverage being on free to air TV. Ever since Formula One became exclusively on Sky, a paid for service, viewing figures have been plummeting due to how expensive the service is. Formula E can be watched by anyone and has expert coverage of the sport, allowing the growth and the development to continue. People will no longer pay the outrageous Sky pricing put on their sports packages, no matter how good the coverage is. This limits who can watch the sport and shows the poor side of F1 to those who have just started to watch it as it is seen as an expensive hobby, while Formula E is easily watchable, with the series taking advantage of key services online like the BBC I player and highlights on multiple sport websites, linking to the excellent use of social media the series has used ever since its creation (See below).
The final reason, and maybe the key reason in the long term, is that Formula E has had a large audience of younger people. Under 25's watch the sport more than Formula 1 due to the restrictive barriers like paywall's and expensive tickets not being there, and the expert use of social media by the Formula E team also shows this. The series post highlights on Twitter and Instagram, helping to reach a wider audience, as well as being constantly active and responding to fans online. This ensures that the viewing age is kept low, in contrast to other sports that are not using the new forms of media (An example could be golf), and can also continue the growth as those who mainly use social media over TV's is not a widely used market, but Formula E has gone into this market and thrived due to the easy accessibility, advertising and the specialization of multiple target audiences for the series.
Overall the series continues to increase its coverage, with all these factors helping the growth and could make it a massive series in the future, as the demand for it by consumers and producers is clearly shown.
- Jake Willetts