The fourth round of the Formula E World Championship took place this weekend on the legendary Monaco race track. Presse-citron was lucky enough to be invited by the FIA to discover this much too little-known discipline and to highlight the “ultra-connected” aspects specific to Formula E that we don’t find in the other categories.
As a young discipline that was founded in 2011, the first Formula E World Championship started in 2014. According to the regulations of the FIA (International Automobile Federation), Formula E is the only single-seater category currently in competition with an electric motor.
In the FE-coupling
Presse-citron guides you through a documentation video next to the article behind the scenes of a racing weekend. Experience the weekend as you were there, from the arrival in Monaco to press conferences, interviews, meetings with the drivers, visits to the paddocks, qualifying, the race and even … a lap on the track in the safety car.
What is Formula E?
FE was introduced in 2014 and is only in its seventh season. Less known than most automotive disciplines, it is one of the emerging categories of motorsport that has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years.
With 24 drivers on the grid and 15 laps, the 2021 season will be the most complete since it started. FE’s concept is to combine motorsport and sustainability through the energy of fuel generators that run on glycerine, a 100% renewable fuel. One of the peculiarities of the discipline is that it only offers city tours, which are much more spectacular but also much more accessible to the public.
The race is in Monaco! 🏎 # MonacoEPrix #FormuleE pic.twitter.com/maHUdMVjPM
– Lemon squeezer (@pressecitron) May 8, 2021
The single-seaters of all teams have the same battery and chassis, but the brands develop their own powertrain. At maximum power, normal mode delivers 200 kilowatts or 270 hp when running.
But Formula E still has problems addressing motorsport enthusiasts. One of the main criticisms of the discipline is the use of electric motors, which make a much less enchanting sound than the turbo V6 used in the F1. We already remember that in this premier class, the engine changes made many teeth grim when the V12 gave way to the atmospheric V10, but especially the V8 and V6 from 2013. However, it seems that this is the future of motorsport.
Cool discipline for young people
As electric vehicles become more popular, the world gets used to the tune of their new engines, especially the younger generation who compare the sound of FEs to the sounds of some Star Wars ships. According to representatives of the FE, the discipline therefore tends to attract a lot more young people who associate these racing cars with pop culture. In addition to the roar of the engines, the design of Formula E has been intentionally inspired by the Batmobile since 2018. As Frederic Espinos, Formula E race director, explains, the aim of the discipline is to attract a new audience of spectators.
The purpose of Formula E is to reach a new population and bring new people into motorsport. It is related to the nature of the electric vehicle. It is the property of Formula E to race in the heart of cities, because in the heart of cities is the electric vehicle market. […] We also have a desire to associate it with video games, associate it with new things in order to attract and convince the public again.
Frederic Espinos, Formula E race director
The discipline even includes an “attack mode” that aims to make the strategy on the track a lot more interesting. This mode is called “Mario Kart” and enables an increase in output of 25 kilowatts to make overtaking easier. To do this, the pilots must deviate from the ideal flight path in order to charge this external battery. As with the mustache plumber’s insane races, one must move away from the “ideal” route to be eligible for bonuses.
“Assault mode is called Mario Kart because it is completely inspired by video games. At the beginning of Formula E there were two cars per driver. It was pretty cool because there was a phase in the middle of the race where you could change cars. After all the technological developments, we said to ourselves: what do we do now that we only have one car? What are we going to do to get something going? Everyone’s basic answer was that we were going to pit [arrêt aux stands]. But in the end it stayed in people’s comfort zone. We did a bit of video games and thought it would be nice to have an area on the circuit where we are at a disadvantage first and then have more power. This is how the idea of attack mode came about. “Explained Frederic Espinos.
The FE, ultra-connected!
It’s that time of the week …
FANBOOST is 𝙤𝙥𝙚𝙣 ⚡️
Click here to give your favorite driver a boost for the #MonacoEPrix 👉 https://t.co/qTiPOePA0T pic.twitter.com/hb2KWd76AV
– ABB FIA Formula E World Championship (@FIAFormulaE) May 5, 2021
Formula E is not just an avant-garde in its engines. It doesn’t just appeal to young people with its references to pop culture. The category is also ultra-connected so that fans can directly influence the race before it starts.
The five pilots who receive the most votes will receive the highly regarded FanBoost. The latter enables the assignment of a force increase that the drivers can use in the second half of the race within a five-second window. Fans can vote for their favorite driver during the three days before each race and up to 15 minutes after the start of the race.
“In addition, pilots can mobilize their community to promote this FanBoost. Thanks to the votes of the fans, we can gain an advantage on the track that will provide more performance for a while, ”explained Frederic Espinos.
An interesting concept that the spectators can use to influence the race. But can we be sure that this system is fair? And that there is no risk that the same pilots always have an advantage?
“Not necessarily, since we have the example of Stephen Vandoorne in the year he arrived, he came out of F1 with a large community, he continues to be one of the best to have FanBoost. I think it has more to do with the fact that it’s something we want to give to the drivers and that they really need to mobilize their fans and their community. So it’s a little job they have to do too, and it’s pretty cool because there are some who have original ideas and do cool things, ”he commented.
But of course this idea is discussed by FanBoost in the paddock and some drivers are not really “fans”. This is the case of Jean-Eric Vergne, the French driver from DS Techeetah, double Formula E world champion (most successful driver), who likes the idea of giving fans the opportunity to interact on the race for the concept however is not fair.
“I think it’s great that the fans can jump in and interact in the race, but not for the sake of performance. It’s like football fans who can vote for a team and have a twelfth player for five minutes. I think it’s not right for sport, and it’s not right in the sense that many pilots pay the votes for it, ”said Jean-Eric Vergne on our microphone.
Formula E in eSports
In 2020, Formula E will be the first discipline to benefit from the health crisis and containment. If the championships are interrupted, the “FE” starts the “Race at Home Challenge”. A series of races in the rFactor2 game where pilots can compete online on simulators. The “Accelerate” challenge arises from this idea. A highlight of the Esprot far ahead of other motor sports.
Hannah Brown, Business Development Director of Formula E and a great actress in preparing these virtual races, explains a little more the idea behind these two competitions.
“The idea of ’Race at Home’ came about when everything stopped. We were able to put together a full roster of Formula E drivers, all 24 drivers participated, and we went to the SimRacing community and allowed them to qualify to participate in the race. We have a lot of support from our broadcast partners and got together for a series of eight pretty cool virtual races on very short notice. […] Then we started the Formula E “Accelerate” and ran six more racing series at the beginning of this year. The ‘Race at Home’ was the start and we are now looking for new ways to further develop the virtual racing experience with real races and real drivers. […] Containment offered an opportunity, but that’s really just the beginning of what we’re going to do with it. “
In view of this success, a second edition of Accelerate is already preparing for the 2022 season. The idea will be to shift up a gear and create a real event that ties in with the fans who have permission to come back to see the races.
“I don’t think this has been publicly announced, but we are working with our Chinese partner to license the Accelerate brand so that our Chinese partner can customize it in China in the third and fourth quarters of the year. […] For the next season, we’re looking at how we’re going to take it to the next level. Fans can return to the races and we will see how virtual races can be integrated into the real experience on race days with a live event. Kind of a really cool experience for the fans and for the pilots who want to take part. “
Formula E: The future of motorsport?
It was a busy and very interesting weekend in the heart of Formula E in Monaco. The opportunity to discover many facets of this young discipline that has a bright future ahead of it. A big thank you to Formula E for this opportunity, to Fanny Margoux for organizing the stay and planning the various interviews to complete our file and video.
Do not hesitate to discover the entire weekend in a special video. From arriving in Monaco, including a visit to the paddocks, a visit to the Envision Virgin Racing garage, a tour in the BMW i8, a visit to the starting grid, of course the race … Here you can experience Formula E as if you were there .
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