Electric Avenue: The History Of Formula E So Far

Joel Harvey

Electric cars represent the future of motor racing. Don’t believe us?

Then allow this recap of the first three seasons of Formula E to change your mind. Because it’s been a highly-charged series so far.

If you’re not up to speed on Formula E, then let us explain – the sport is essentially the electric sibling to Formula 1. The pair even have the same daddy: the FIA.

The obvious difference between the two competitions is that the cars used in Formula E are all-electric beasts. These single-seaters might not be as powerful as the internal combustion powered engines used in F1, but they’re still fast. And major manufacturers are now queuing up to take part in Formula E.

There’s already some well-known names involved: Renault, Jaguar and Audi. But they’ll be joined by other big names in the future; Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche and Nissan have all announced future participation in the series.

For these guys, the draw to racing in Formula E is clear – it enables them to develop their electric cars. The championship is a hot-bed of new tech and evolving electric power, and everyone wants in on that. It’s quite likely that the future electric cars we’ll be driving, will have their roots in Formula E.

But before we look ahead at the future of Formula E, it’s time to look back on the three thrilling seasons we’ve seen already. And every single one of them has had title races that have gone down to the wire.

2014-15

The debut Formula E season kicked off in Beijing, and this first race would set the bar for subsequent races. With a massive final corner collision between leaders Nick Heidfeld and Nicolas Prost (yes, he’s the son of Alain), Lucas di Grassi would storm through and pick up the win. This kind of spectacle silenced the doubters and naysayers of Formula E, proving it could be more than a match for the circus of F1.

What also surprised many was the closeness of the races in Formula E. In this inaugural season, all the cars were built and supplied by Spark Racing Technology. And as a result, this first year of competition was closer than Force India cars on race day.

In the end, only 11 points separated the top three drivers: di Grassi, Nelson Piquet Jr. and Sébastien Buemi. The final two races held in London decided the championship, which was ultimately won by Piquet Jr.

Years on from the whole Renault F1 crashgate saga, Piquet Jr. had finally laid some demons to rest in motorsport with this title victory.

2015-16

The sophomore season for Formula E had a lot to live up to, and some rule changes would create a new dynamic for the teams. Instead of everyone using the same cars, teams were free to pursue their own development. This meant that the e-motor, inverter, gearbox and cooling system could now be built by separate manufacturers.

These changes caused some concerns; no-one wanted the first season closeness evaporating this time ’round. But there was no need to be worried. This season would once again go down to the last two races, creating another exciting championship finale. It was once again Buemi and di Grassi duking it out for top spot in London, with an unbelievable first corner incident leaving them both at the tail-end of the pack.

But in Formula E, points can also be earned for taking the fastest lap of the race resulting in a unique situation: fastest lap wins the championship!

Buemi and Renault reigned supreme in 2015-16 then, and once again Formula E was offering a style of race that created more tension and drama than anyone had previously expected.

2016-17

The third season for Formula E saw things shaken up once again. For the first time in twelve years, Jaguar was back in motor racing. Their works team was added to a season which also saw racing in Marrakesh and the first Motorsport race in New York since 1896.

The season was once again close, but was also marred in some off-track controversy. The New York double-header ePrix ended up clashing with the 6 Hours of Nürburgring event.

Because title-contender Buemi was contracted to appear in both races, he was ultimately forced to drop out of the NY races. This meant that di Grassi was able to gain an advantage over his championship rival. And because of that lead, di Grassi would win his first championship in the last two races at Montreal.

The Future

As we head into the 2017-18 season – kicking off in Hong Kong on 2 December –  what can we expect from Formula E? We’ll certainly be seeing more close-knit racing on some devilish new tracks; with the first circuit race in Switzerland since 1955 scheduled in the calendar. And with all three previous champions involved once again, expect this year’s title race to be as close as ever.

With the new manufacturers joining after the end of this season, the future is undoubtedly bright for Formula E.

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