Pairing a quick race format with keen interest in sustainability, all-electric Formula E is one of the world’s fastest-growing motorsports.
The three-season-old race circuit already has attracted world-class backers, including BMW and Jaguar, not to mention a fast-growing fan base around the world. And the more you know about it, the better you can enjoy the ride.
Ten teams of two drivers each compete during the Formula E season, which runs October through July. Its 12 races span the globe, from Miami to Beijing. And the Argo-sponsored Faraday Future Dragon Racing team consists of Loic Duval and Jerome D’Ambrosio, both multi-champions in other racing circuits.
Different from Formula One, nearly all the events run on 1.2-mile to 2.1-mile city-street circuits whose tight turns demand high driver skill. April 1’s Julius Baer Mexico City ePrix is the circuit’s one non-street exception since it takes place at Mexico’s storied Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez complex.
Don’t assume the use of battery power instead of combustion makes for slow races. The powerful Formula E motors generate 270 horsepower, allowing cars to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in under three seconds and reach top speeds of 140 mph.
Here are five ways to get the most out of your Formula E experience:
- Watch from the right spot
If you’re lucky enough to catch a race in person, you’ll need to figure out what kind of view you prefer. Since every track is different, seating options vary, but you’ll likely have a choice between viewing from the straightaway or a turn.
Grandstands along the straightaway offer a chance to see the start and finish, and are usually where the pits are located. But some fans consider the curves the ideal place to take in the action. That’s where drivers have to brake quickly as they jostle for position, giving spectators an up-close look at the top displays of skill and strategy. Passing can occur in either place.
- Watch the battery level
Formula E races last for 50 minutes, during which drivers must make one mandatory pit stop to switch cars. That’s because the high-powered electric batteries can’t last the whole race and weigh too much for a quick swap.
As a result, making the batteries last is a key source of Formula E’s competitive drama. Drivers juggle jetting for the win with maintaining the energy left in their cars. Shutdowns aren’t common, but they have occurred, taking drivers out of the race. If you’re watching from the stands, download the free Formula E app to track drivers’ battery use.
- Watch all the sessions
Formula E races begin with a pair of morning practice sessions – one lasting 45 minutes, followed by a 30-minute run. Both allow spectators to watch the drivers get a feel for the track. It can be fun to see which corners are likely to be trouble spots and watch your favorite team make modifications.
Between those sessions and the afternoon race, drivers are grouped in four six-minute qualifying sessions that determine their place in the starting grid. The better the placement, the better their chance of victory in the main event.
- Watch at home
The Formula E website offers broadcast information for the races around the world. Fox Sports airs Formula E in the United States, giving fans another exciting – and different – way to follow the action. The network airs both the race and the qualifier and practice sessions – often live.
In the broadcasts, drivers’ struggles to juggle speed and battery life are placed front and center using onscreen graphics that track the power drain in real time. Access to team radio communications also heightens the tension and offers strategic insight. Plus, Jack Nicholls and Dario Franchitti – the latter a four-time IndyCar champion and three-time Indy 500 winner – keep the commentary energetic, insightful and fun.
- Watch for the Fanboost
Starting six days before each race and lasting into its first six minutes, fans can vote for their favorite driver on Twitter and Instagram or on the Formula E website and app.
The three drivers tallying the most votes each receive a “Fanboost” in the form of a 30-kilowatt, five-second surge of energy from their battery. No, that’s not enough to zoom a trailing driver into the lead, but it can move a savvy contender closer to victory during a finale.