Formula E firmly in the fast lane


How the electric racing series is shaking up the world of motorsport

Michael White, Communications Director

Formula 1 is still out in front when it comes to global motorsport championships, but it is the all-electric street racing series, Formula E, that is making up most ground on the pack leader.

Your average petrolhead will tell you that the noise and top speeds of the vehicles put Formula E at the back of the grid, but for brands, general sports fans and media, Formula E is beginning to steal the limelight and sway them to the idea that electric racing is the future. And with good reason.

There is no denying that F1 is a global behemoth, entertaining hundreds of millions of people in all corners of the planet, not to mention attracting some of the biggest brands out there. To the uninitiated, cracking into F1 may seem a daunting experience given the sheer wealth of moving parts.

Formula E on the other hand exudes the notion that its doors are open for business and everyone is welcome. It wants as many people to step inside its world and play a part in taking the Championship as far as it can go. Formula E has unashamedly taken learnings from other sport, entertainment and cultural events, distilling the best bits and making them its own.

This entrepreneurial spirit is infectious and hangs in the air at each race on the ABB FIA Formula E calendar. For someone who has come from a non-motorsports background, it is truly exciting to be part of a property that is aggressively accelerating onto the big stage.

My first experience of Formula E was at the Rome E-Prix in Season 4. In the days building up to the race you could not help but get swept up in the excitement of that weekend’s race. The atmosphere was comparable to the build up to a Rugby World Cup match, and the hype that precedes a fixture.

Step inside the Formula E paddock and energy levels go up a notch; partners are on the ground well before race day eager to activate the sponsorships, teams behave like family units, drivers are fierce but friendly rivals, prospects are in awe of the opportunity and media are given unprecedented access.

In any sport I have previously worked in, access is a recurring buzz word, that is often at a premium. However, Formula E bucks the trend. I was staggered by the unflinching access fans, media and partners are given over the course of a race week – unscheduled interviews, informal garage tours and a relaxed open-door policy at all levels. Far from reckless access, but the decision-makers understand that to engage its audience Formula E needs to bring people inside its four walls.

There is no doubt that as more money, teams and personnel pour into the Championship, change will happen, and this access may tighten up. For the time being the appetite from everybody involved in Formula E is to keep their foot off the pedal and make it the best possible sport and entertainment offering it can be.

It comes as no surprise that one of the biggest sponsorships deals in recent motorsport history was within Formula E. The introduction of ABB was a clear signal that the those behind electric street racing were on the right track.

Season 6 of Formula E will see global powerhouse manufacturers, Porsche and Mercedes, enter the Championship. Brands, big name drivers and new fans won’t be far behind them. It is rare you see, let alone get to work in a sport that carries the sense it is about to explode and change the game for everyone. While the cars may be quiet on track, Formula E and the circus that comes with it is making a huge amount of noise.