Why even the most petrol-powered race fan should realise the power of Formula E
The times are indeed a-changing, but it's not bad news...
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It would be fair to say that, since the series' inaugural season in 2014, Formula E has ruffled a few feathers. Most prominently existing motorsport fans have found friction with the all-electric championship.
Sound, power, and speed came to the fore as key issues, deemed inferior to other series. And whilst the beauty in motorsports is the different flavours it comes in, of which we all have our favourites, slamming the door on Formula E is ultimately a mistake.
As the racing world changes and the climate of our green and blue planet comes more and more under threat, FE might be worth a little bit more of your time. Hear me out.
The changing face of the racing world
If the saying goes 'Money makes the world go round' then in the motorsport sphere you can multiply that by ten. From developing aero, to the trucks that carry the cars, to the bottles of water your star driver needs in their room pre-race, everything has a price.
Automotive marques have become increasingly conscious of these outgoings, as financial implications of the 2008 crash are still taking their toll on some big names.
Sadly, when the purse strings get tightened, racing programmes are more often than not the first operation to be cut. Consider Honda's incredibly late withdrawal from Formula 1 in December 2008, and BMW and Toyota's retirement from the series a year later. This isn't an F1 problem either. Ford didn't seek to continue their highly successful GTE programme after 2019, and more recently Porsche have cut short their IMSA entry due to the Coronavirus-induced economic circumstances.
However, compounding this issue is relevancy to their automotive sales. It's great competing in some of the top tiers of the sport but if it goes without direct influence on road technology or it doesn't create customers, brands simply cannot justify a race programme.
The race series know that. The WEC hosted the incredible turbo-hybrid power units that F1 has since adopted from 2014 onwards, as hybrid road technology continues to proliferate the automotive market. Australia's V8 Supercars opened the rulebook to four, six and eight cylinder formats, and the already road-relevant BTCC grid will carry hybrid power in 2022. Even NASCAR is considering scrapping the shouty V8 for a more environmentally aware, and fuel efficient power unit.
Formula E, in comparison, is a test and research centre ready and waiting for the world's leading electric car manufacturers, some of which are already involved. The justification of running a FE programme will continue to grow over the coming seasons.
The technology in the e-generation of road cars that we will all be driving very soon will come directly from the FE testbed, and that makes the series a worthwhile investment as racing programmes have their value cost-benefit analysed during ongoing financial stress.
Climate change awareness on a global scale
It goes without saying that our little green and blue planet is undergoing near inescapable climate change as a result of human behaviours.
Record temperatures, record rainfall, from the wildfires in Australia in January 2020 – doesn't that seem like a lifetime ago – to five of the ten most costliest storms in history happening in the last decade.
At the forefront of this conversation has long been our unwavering reliance on fossil fuels which, if continues at current usage, will leave us high and dry in our energy demands.
It's as simple as that. At some point we will run out of these fuels, but Formula E is helping convince many that there are alternatives.
In September this year Formula E celebrated its recognition as the first and only Carbon Neutral racing series. Following UN guidelines, the series effectively counted, reduced, and offset its carbon emissions whilst racing around the world.
Now although this may not impress many, the simple fact of the matter is that if efforts like this are not made then motorsport could face international scrutiny for not playing its part in the fight against irreversible climate change.
Should the racing world fail to accept its value as a guiding light in how we can still enjoy the sensations of driving in an environmental conscious way, then motorsports in its entirety might simply not be allowed to take place.
And that sucks, right?
Formula E is part of that important display about how automotive mobility doesn't need to be reliant on fossil fuels, and how the performance of electric machinery is very much accelerating.
Now this might seem somewhat undermined owing to its appearance on a motoring website overflowing with petrolheads, but the fact is there is so much more contributing to irreversible environmental damage than the cars we drive.
Everyday behaviours, excessive plastic waste, and those nasty 'hidden air miles' on products we buy all contribute towards our individual climate impact. Formula E emphasises that the groundbreaking racing and automotive electric technology is just the spearhead for greener living.
Not to sound all superhero movie but Formula E isn't just about a racing championship, it's about saving the world.
Racing competition like no other
An inherent part of being a motorsport fan is having a soft spot for a particular marque. It doesn't matter what series they're in at what rung on the racing ladder, one badge just holds that extra bit of space in your heart.
This is where Formula E holds the upper hand on the majority of other racing series.
With Mercedes and Porsche joining for the 2019/20 season, the FE entry list had seven of the biggest automotive brands in the world, with two more EV producers fielding factory-backed teams.
That makes nine of the 12 teams on the grid manufacturers that you can purchase a vehicle from. For comparison, MotoGP has six, Formula 1 has only five (Six if you include Honda's engine involvement), NASCAR has three, and the VASC has two.
Nowhere else in the racing world can you see the likes of Porsche, Audi, BMW and Jaguar go head-to-head with full-blown factory teams. You quite simply do not get this level of brand competition anywhere else in the racing world.
Factor in that the racing is brilliant and you have high-stakes competition that you cannot tear yourself away from. If you call yourself a a racing fan then you can surely find enjoyment in any form of motoring competition. Whether you're a devout F1 fan, or a WEC-head, we could all switch on a series we've never watched before and enjoy it. If you enjoy racing, then there is no reason why Formula E shouldn't stir those same emotions that draw you to other on-track competition.
Rivalries of years gone past, from Le Mans to F1, are being revived on the newest and most advanced international racing stage. There is a team for everyone, and with the likelihood of more brands choosing to join the paddock in the imminent future that number is set to grow.
As the impacts of the previous two points (the financial strains on the racing world and the environmental challenges we face) continue to develop, Formula E is only furthered as the primary opportunity for marques to enter into the motorsport sphere.
So don't worry if your favourite brand isn't in FE yet, the chances are it will be soon.