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What is Formula E? Your complete guide

If you’re a fan of elite motorsport, perhaps you’ve grown tired of seeing Lewis Hamilton dominate Formula One. Maybe your excitement for the World Rally Championship is waning, or you feel like MotoGP has lost some of its mojo.

It could be that you’re not keen on any of the traditionally popular series, and you’d rather take an interest in something slightly different. For high-octane action combined with zero carbon emissions, look no further than Formula E.

Known as a more environmentally friendly racing series, it takes place around the world and continues to grow in popularity. A media release from organisers in 2019 revealed that revenues had risen by more than 50% on the previous year, to exceed €200 million, while the cumulative television audience had increased by 24% over that period.

Alejandro Agag, founder and CEO of Formula E, said at the time: "It’s incredibly positive to again see a significant increase in our growing audience across the board, as well as the number of young fans choosing to watch and follow the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. Like the next-generation cars themselves, the speed of growth is getting faster and faster.

“Reaching new young fans, the excitement of Formula E is helping to inspire future generations to embrace clean energy and in turn bringing them one step closer to buying an electric car. This ties in with Formula E’s vision of moving towards a cleaner future, faster."

So, it’s clearly a sport which has its sights set on the bigger picture, but what exactly is Formula E, how does it work and where can you watch it? Read on to find out more.

What is Formula E?

Put simply, Formula E is a motorsport competition solely for electric cars. It is now recognised as a World Championship under the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), and it is the only single-seater series, other than F1, to be granted that status. Races have been held in some of the most iconic cities around the world, including Beijing, London, Marrakesh, New York, Paris and Rome.

When did Formula E start?

The history of Formula E starts with a few notes on a napkin. Agag and FIA president Jean Todt hatched the plan together in a restaurant back in 2011, with a view to promoting a cleaner future through the use of electric vehicles. The first race was held in Beijing in September 2014 and the inaugural 2014-15 season ended in London, with Nelson Piquet Jr crowned champion by a single point ahead of another ex-F1 driver, Sebastien Buemi.

How does Formula E work?

The Formula E season is contested across a number of races in various locations around the world. Historically there has usually been somewhere between 10-12 rounds, but that number was increased to 15 for the 2020-21 campaign.

Unlike F1, all practice, qualifying and the race itself are held on one day, rather than spread out over a long weekend. There are two practice sessions prior to the qualification stage, from which the top six drivers advance to decide who will start at the front of the grid.

During qualifying, teams are allowed to use a maximum power output of 250 kW but when it comes to the race, the power is limited to 200 kW. The scoring system is the same as in F1, with 25 points awarded to the winner, down to a solitary point for whoever finishes 10th.

Bonus points are also awarded for the pole-sitter and for those who set the fastest laps in qualifying and during the race. Whichever driver amasses the most points over the course of the season is crowned world champion.

How long is a Formula E race?

Formula E races take place on temporary street circuits, with a lap usually being 1-2 miles in length. Races are set to 45 minutes plus one lap.

Where to watch Formula E

Fans in the UK can catch Formula E through the BBC iPlayer or on the BBC Sport website. The qualifying stage, the race and the highlights are also available on Eurosport, while practice sessions are shown on Formula E’s YouTube channel, website and official app.

How fast are Formula E cars?

The second generation of Formula E car, known as the Gen2, can go from 0-60mph in just 2.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 174mph. That rate of acceleration from a standing start is comparable to F1, although the cars in that class often send the needle well beyond 200mph.

How far can a Formula E car go?

During early seasons, drivers had to make a mid-race pit stop to change cars, but the Gen2 features a battery that can last for a full race. The tyres are also designed to go the distance, which means the teams only have to call their drivers in for emergency repairs.

How much does a Formula E car weigh?

The minimum weight, including the driver, of the Gen2 is 903kg, of which 385kg is the battery. That overall weight is 20kg heavier than the previous edition, while the battery mass has risen by 65kg.

Are all Formula E cars the same?

The chassis and battery of all Formula E cars are the same, but teams are permitted to build the powertrains themselves. Some teams use their own and some use ones which are manufactured by other brands. There are plans to launch a new car and battery for the 2022-23 season; the Gen3 is expected to deliver greater power and a battery that can cope with rapid recharging.

How many teams are in Formula E?

The 2020-21 Formula E season saw 12 teams taking part. Each one is made up of two drivers who compete in all rounds, making a total of 24 cars on the track in every race. While the drivers compete for individual points in the battle for the world championship, their combined tallies are used to decide the teams’ championship.

Who makes Formula E cars?

While some teams take their name from their high-profile sponsors, the powertrain is usually provided by a premier automotive manufacturer. For example, the electric motors provided by McLaren featured in every car during the first season. Since then, several famous brands have all entered teams and built power units for others to use in recent years, including:

Get into Formula E with Jardine Motors

So, now you know the ins and outs of Formula E, perhaps you’ve decided it’s time to join the electric revolution. At Jardine Motors we have hundreds of new and used electric models for you to browse through, from a wide range of some of the world’s leading manufacturers.

Ok, so you won’t be reaching the top speeds of the precision-engineered machines we see in Formula E, but there’s certainly no less enjoyment to be had from driving away in a car that’s been designed with a cleaner future in mind.

Just contact your local dealership or get in touch with our friendly team and see how Jardine can help you find the drive of your dreams.

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