Latest posts by Charlie Widdicombe (see all)
- Why Formula E Could Overtake F1 As The Pinnacle Of Motorsport - August 13, 2018
- Premier League 2018/19: Pre-Season Predictions - August 10, 2018
- Fantasy Premier League 2018/19- Gameweek 1 Team Selection - August 10, 2018
Since it’s inaugural championship in 1950, Formula 1 (F1) has widely been considered the unmatched jewel in the motorsport crown. However, it’s been a decade since the formation of the Formula E (FE) series. Many other forms of single-seater racing have attempted to rival F1, with little success, but here are some of the reasons that F1 should be nervously looking over its shoulder for the first time…
Electric Power is the future
FE is simply more relatable to road cars than F1. The last decade has seen a rapid increase in the production of electric cars, ever increasing electric ports around the world and cars with greater electric batteries. FE has reflected this rapid development, as drivers have needed to swap cars md-way through a race until next season, where the cars will now have enough charge to last a full race.
As a result, an ever-increasing number of manufacturers are entering FE. Alongside Audi, Jaguar, Mahindra and Renault, BMW and Nissan are set to join for the 2018-19 season, and most significantly Mercedes, having dominated F1 over the past 5 seasons, are entering FE from 2019-20. With Mercedes and Ferrari unhappy with new proposals for the 2021 F1 Season, Mercedes’ move has created a feeling that this could be the beginning of a seismic shift in which F1 loses its appeal to manufacturers. There’s nothing to stop Mercedes being in both- that’s exactly what Renault do- but nevertheless if they or Ferrari decided to walk away from F1, the consequences could be catastrophic.
In a bid to keep its works teams happy, could F1 go all electric? Possibly, but FE have surely cut off the trajectory that F1 would have been expected to follow.
In a world where any level of fan has the ability to spread their opinions at the click of a button, empowering fans is critical to the commercial success of a sport. In order to embrace this and engage with a generation obsessed with social media, Formula 1 have an official “driver of the day” vote on their website after each race to empower the fans.
Formula E have gone one step further however, with a “Fanboost”; in the six days leading up to a race, fans can vote online for their “favourite driver”, and the three drivers with the most votes get a five second power boost to use during the second half of the race. The idea of fans directly influencing a race is unprecedented, and although the traditional motorsport fan looks down on this with disgust, it’s undoubtedly an effective method of engaging a new generation of fan with the sport.
Could we see some form of fan influence direct onto Formula 1? Well, many previous changes including the introduction of KERS in 2009, DRS in 2011 (both to increase overtaking), the Halo this year (for safety reasons) and even the banning of grid girls (because the sport felt it was an outdated concept) were met with significant opposition, but on the whole have been accepted after a period of time. However, the idea of the fans giving one driver a power advantage over another would surely be considered too far for the vast majority of F1 enthusiasts.
Something that F1 still had in hand over FE was more accessible TV coverage. But whilst there appears to be no deal for live coverage of F1 races on free to air UK TV, Formula E has had races broadcast live by Channel 5, and the BBC appear interested in adding some form of coverage, having provided online highlights of the Mexican E-Prix. In losing all free to air coverage, F1 loses some of its subconscious status as each race being a “major sporting event” (which is also contributed to by its increasing number of races per season).
Prices for events are enormous also. A 2-day hospitality ticket for the FE E-Prix in London is around £200, compared to £509 for F1 at Silverstone (although this is for the 3-day F1 weekend and includes more racing as well as the main event). General admission for FE can be as cheap as £15, compared to a minimum of £50 for F1. This combination of cheaper prices and more accessible coverage makes FE an increasingly attractive proposition in comparison to F1.
There’s no doubting that F1 is still a successful sport that is changing its ways to become a more appealing sport, and that its prestige is unrivalled. Any shift that sees FE “overtake” F1 would still take a number of years. But FE has grown rapidly and doesn’t appear to be slowing down in its development.
Many will argue that the tradition of F1 is the Ace up its sleeve that FE doesn’t have- but it could be its downfall too.
Featured image is sourced from CNN.