It seems scarcely believable to those who can recall its curious debut in China in 2014 but Formula E is already firmly into its eighth season and is preparing to welcome its jet-inspired third-generation car for the 2023 season.
The all-electric championship has pioneered wide-ranging initiatives, such as fan-voted Fanboost, Attack Mode, quirky qualifying formats, putting the whole event into one day, and has done so while taking the competition into the centre of major global cities that were previously lukewarm to such sporting contests.
Its first seven seasons have delivered six different champions and that unpredictability has been a key selling point, having been able to start with a clean sheet of paper compared to most of its distinguished contemporaries in the global motorsport chain. Formula E could afford to take a risk, profit and develop from what worked, and swiftly discard ideas that didn’t pay off.
But it has nonetheless been a difficult phase for Formula E as pandemic restrictions meant one of its USPs – taking the championship into the centre of city for mass reach – was not feasible. It was a case of getting through a rough period and coming out the other side. But it is gradually emerging from the doldrums and re-establishing itself on the market.
Stoffel Vandoorne celebrating after his victory at the Formula E Monaco EPrix 2022 . Image courtesy Formula E
There’s still over half of the 2021-22 season remaining with a busy spell coming up to decide both world championship titles.
At the head of the pack is Stoffel Vandoorne, following his sumptuous success at the latest event around the iconic streets of Monaco. The Mercedes EQ driver is chasing his maiden Formula E title after previously finishing runner-up in the standings and holds a slender six-point advantage over Jean-Eric Vergne, the only driver in history to have claimed multiple Formula E crowns. Vergne is the only champion in the top seven of the standings as a new generation of drivers strive to emerge as Formula E’s long-term future.
Monaco EPrix 2022 winners with their trophies: Stoffel Vandoorne (center), Mitch Evans (right), and Jean-Eric Vergne (left). Image courtesy Formula E
The championship still has to take in trips to Berlin, Jakarta, New York, London and Seoul – with two all-new venues in that period.
Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport is familiar to racers but multiple layout options means the championship can keep drivers on their toes, New York’s event takes place with its unmistakable skyline as a backdrop, while London’s EPrix has the unique distinction of being motorsport’s only indoor/outdoor circuit. Several corners – including the paddock area and start/finish line – are located inside the ExCeL centre, creating an additional challenge for teams and drivers, particularly in mixed weather conditions.
After pandemic-related postponements Jakarta and Seoul will finally get their time to shine in 2022, It will be the first FIA-sanctioned motorsport event in Indonesia since 2006 and will take place at a specially-constructed 18-turn circuit in the Ancol district of the city.
And for the first time Formula E’s season finale will take place in South Korea. Seoul’s Olympic Park is set to be used as the country welcomes back international sport after the pandemic, and prepares to crown Formula E’s 2021-22 World Champion.
The latest EPrix in Monaco 2022 which saw the introduction of the new Gen3 cars. Image courtesy Formula E
The forward-thinking championship is already awaiting its next generation machinery. Gen3, launched at the Monaco EPrix, will debut in 2023 and it is set to be Formula E’s fastest car yet. Top speeds of over 200mph are anticipated, with 95 per cent power efficiency, and both front and rear powertrains. That doubles the regenerative ability of the Gen2 car to 600kW on Gen3 while overall maximum power has increased to 350kW (470bhp) from 250kW (335bhp).
Gen3 is also poised to be lighter, shorter and narrower than the current Gen2 model in order to enhance the quality of racing at the street tracks that Formula E frequents, ostensibly creating a package that will be nimbler.
The new Gen3 model introduced at the Monaco Eprix 2022. Image courtesy Formula E
Sustainability has also been an ambition for Formula E and the FIA, with bodywork retired from Gen2 cars set to be recycled for Gen3 production, sustainably-sourced minerals will be used for Gen3 batteries – which will all be recycled – while the same approach will be taken for the race tyres too.
There will also be a new manufacturer at play. While Formula E prepares to wave a sad farewell to Mercedes it is welcoming Maserati, which is returning to FIA-sanctioned motorsport after a prolonged absence. It is almost a century since Maserati’s Tipo 96 made its debut at the 1926 Targa Florio and it is looking to build a long and successful new chapter in Formula E.
Maserati joins an existing pool of manufacturers that includes Jaguar, DS Automobiles, Mahindra, Nissan, NIO and Porsche.
It is surely set to be an acid test for a championship that is keen to underline its long-term credentials as a pioneer, not only of taking motor racing to a wider non-specialist audience, but also doing so minus the use of fossil fuels as it approaches its second decade.