Formula E is the latest iteration of motorsport- officially becoming an FIA championship in 2020. It is a world series, involving races in some of the world’s ‘most progressive cities’. Formula E is centred around this idea of ‘progressiveness’ and its main concept is to combine the thrill of a motorcar race with the crucial race we are in to save our planet. Formula E’s rapid growth since its 2014-15 inaugural season comes at a time when carbon emissions are reaching worrying levels and putting our environment further at risk. In 2020, the burning of fossil fuels alone contributed to 34.81 billion tonnes of global carbon emissions.[i]
Despite a dip caused by the COVID-19 crisis, these figures are now on the rise again. In response to this, many involved in motor sports have deemed the burning of fossil fuels in Formula 1 as unacceptable. In 2019, Formula 1’s carbon footprint was estimated to be 256,511 tonnes. As a result of this, F1 officials pledged the sport would achieve a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030.[ii] This will involve a reduction in freight transported to races, taking fewer people to events, and stopping the use of gasoline among other measures. Petrol for F1 cars is currently composed of 90% fossil fuel and 10% renewable ethanol, however officials have set a target of running the cars on completely renewable fuel by 2025.
With Formula 1 officials admitting these targets are ‘very ambitious,’ those more sceptical among us may doubt their ability to achieve this target. This has opened up a gap in the motor sport industry for a green motorsport, offering eco-friendly solutions now rather than in a couple of years’ time. This solution has come in the form of Formula E– they are looking to speed up the switch to electric mobility by showcasing the potential of electric automotive technology. The cars are constantly being refined in order to make them more sustainable and the events are carefully organised so that they have less of an impact on our climate.
Of course, investing in Formula 1 may still be more attractive due to the sports’ high audience figures, however Formula E is on an upward trajectory. Also, Liberty Media (owners of F1) owning a stake in FE demonstrates the potential for Formula E and Formula 1 to grow in tandem. One cannot expect for Formula E to take over Formula 1’s fanbase, however it certainly has the potential to expand underneath F1 and offer healthy competition. Liberty Media holding a stake highlights this potential. Getting involved whilst it is still relatively new could soon bear massive rewards as the technology used in Formula E is becoming more and more exciting. Partnering with Formula E would mean partnering with our future and its status as the only ‘net-zero carbon’ sport means that investment also helps tackle the man-made disaster that is climate change. This post will detail the reasons why you should consider partnering with this exciting motorsport.
Support base is growing rapidly, and there’s still lots of room for more growth in other markets
Formula E is experiencing massive growth in its audience figures thanks to new media deals in key markets. Races are being broadcasted on television channels in big countries including Indonesia, USA and central European countries like Italy, UK, Germany etc. This resulted in very impressive growth from Season 6 to Season 7. For example, the cumulative audiences in Indonesia and Germany increased by 147% and 338% respectively.
What makes Formula E very attractive to partner with, however, is the clear next steps to increase these figures. These markets saw growth despite not all races being broadcasted on television and many of the television deals involved Formula E being broadcasted on smaller channels. For instance, 8 races were broadcasted in the UK on channels including BBC2, Channel 4 and Quest. The UK market still saw a 156% rise in the cumulative audience from Season 6 to Season 7. As Formula E keeps growing, and more races are broadcasted on primary television channels, even more growth can be expected.
Also, there is still room for improvement of the product to help improve figures in weaker markets. Formula E’s Asian audience base was negatively impacted by the collapse of Fox and initiatives have been taken to fix that- new broadcast partners have been secured in India. In addition, the return of Asian races in Season 8 is hoped to be able to boost figures in other big Asian countries like China.
The growth, and potential for more growth on top of that, makes Formula E an exciting opportunity for investors. If the correct steps are taken, Formula E could soon have a global audience and begin to rival other popular motorsports like Formula 1 and MotoGP.
Formula E is the most sustainable and eco-friendly form of motorsport
As companies look to modernise methods and gear themselves up for the future, it would be wise to align with a sport like Formula E which promotes sustainability and innovation. Formula E is centred around its aim to help reduce negative by-products of motorsport, and the lengths to which they go to achieve this target are incredible. All the cars’ chassis are recycled and given a new life when they are no longer needed. Also, the most efficient methods of transport are used, with biofuels commonly being used for road and sea freight. Most impressively, the cars are able to help put on an entertaining race whilst emitting very little carbon thanks to batteries being used to power the engines- contrasting with gasoline used in Formula 1. Overall, in Season 7 only 19,600 tonnes of carbon were emitted, and work is being done to reduce that figure.[iii]
Formula E’s sustainability makes it the perfect platform for new, modern products. DHL, logistics partner of Formula E, used this platform to showcase a drone which could be the ‘future of parcel delivery’. Similarly, Nissan partnered with Formula E as a part of their focus on zero emissions and have set up VR experiences at races so fans can experience what it is like to drive in a Formula E car. These examples underline the potential of partnering with a sport focused on the future and innovation.
Useful for research and development of new technology
The modern nature of Formula E and its cars make it perfect for companies looking to test new technology. With studies predicting that electrified vehicles will make up 50% of all vehicles by 2030, it is crucial that companies can find ways to both innovate and renovate products so that they are ready for the future.[iv] Shell uses Formula E as a training ground for new battery technology as they are testing fluids which help preserve and improve performance of batteries in cars. Their research will help to not only improve the quality of Formula E cars, but also of normal road cars among other unsustainable products.
The cars in Formula E are also showcasing technology which has never been seen before, as demonstrated by the switch to Gen3 racing cars in Season 9. The Gen3 car is described as ‘the world’s most efficient racing car,’ with its electric motor capable of producing 350kw of power and a top speed of 200mph. With Porsche, Nissan, DS Automobiles, NIO 333, Mahindra, Maserati, Jaguar having already registered for this new era of Formula E, Gen3 will certainly see the sport propelled to new heights. The competitiveness between some of the greatest manufacturers in the world will breed innovation, making partnering with Formula E something you do not want to miss out on.
Unpredictability makes Formula E an exciting spectacle
A factor that has limited competitiveness in other motorsports is the history of the sports and the traditions that come with that. This has enabled the domination of certain drivers and teams that we have seen in Formula 1 and MotoGP. Big teams are able to make their vehicles more competitive than those of the weaker teams. Consumers generally don’t like change, making it difficult for officials to balance the scale and create a more level playing field. On the other hand, Formula E being new makes it easier for them to create an air of unpredictability.
The cars in Formula E are all very similar and manufacturers have to abide by strict regulations for car development. The chassis, battery, aerodynamics, tyres, and fundamentals have to remain the same for all cars. This challenges manufacturers to find unique ways to gain an edge- software and geometry of the car is often altered to try and increase chances of winning. This lack of room for change to the cars places a lot of emphasis on the strategies of drivers, with Formula E likened to a game of high speed chess. Formula E races are thrilling, with drivers going neck and neck all the way into the final lap and most races yielding different winners. This is shown by the last 8 championships being won by 7 different drivers
The unpredictability of Formula E helps contrast it with Formula 1 and can help the sport become more attractive to new viewers looking for tighter races with more random results. Uncertainty gives rise to excitement.
Formula E is interactive for fans
Formula E cars being powered by electricity opens up many possibilities for fun, innovative features for races. ‘Fanboost’ was introduced in the 2018/19 season, and it allows for viewers to vote for their favourite driver using hashtags on popular social media platforms, with the most popular driver receiving a ‘power boost’. Formula E races also include a feature called ‘Attack Mode,’ which is a power boost that can be activated if drivers drive through an activation zone. This creates an interesting facet to a Formula E race which has never been seen before in other sports. Whilst the ‘Fanboost’ gives fans the chance to feel involved in races and build a connection with their favourite drivers
These features demonstrate the ways in which Formula E can be innovated to potentially attract younger viewers who are new to motorsport. This comes at a time where F1’s ‘Drive to Survive’ series on Netflix shows a need for sports to find new ways to attract young viewers in this social media driven era. Formula E can use their technology focused core to help become trailblazers for new features in sport.
Formula 1 and Formula E are both great options for you to partner with. Formula 1 obviously offers a rich history and a larger audience, but Formula E has an interesting niche. It offers a more modern alternative and whilst it may be difficult to attract hardcore F1 fans to FE, the sport’s sustainability and advanced technology gives it a head start in the race to become future-ready. It would be wise to consider partnering with FE and benefitting from its unique platform, which promotes new ideas and safer methods for our planet.
[i] Global Carbon Project (2021)
[ii] Formula 1 sustainability strategy (2019)
[iii] Formula E sustainability policy
[iv] IHS Markit’s 2018 study