An Introduction To Formula E

Gemma Cockrell

Formula E is a single-seater motorsport championship for electric cars. Sounds simple, right? Well… it can seem quite confusing and complicated at first. So, Gemma Cockrell is here to provide an explanation of the series for new fans.

There are 11 teams on the Formula E grid: Avalanche Andretti, Dragon / Penske, Mercedes-EQ, Jaguar, DS Techeetah, Envision, Rokit Venturi, Tag Heuer Porsche, Mahindra, Nissan E.Dams, and Nio 333. Like Formula 1, each team has two drivers. This means that there are 22 drivers overall racing in the series – two more than in Formula 1.

Speaking of Formula 1, there are many familiar faces on the Formula E grid, the most recent of which being Antonio Giovinazzi. Others include Pascal Wehrlein, Jean-Eric Vergne and Stoffel Vandoorne. Vergne is a double Formula E champion, having won in 2017-2018 and 2018-2019. 2015-2016 Formula E champion Sebastian Buemi also had a brief stint in Formula 1 from 2009 to 2011.

Speaking of Formula 1, there are many familiar faces on the Formula E grid, the most recent of which being Antonio Giovinazzi

There are also some drivers who have moved from Formula 2 to Formula E after failing to find a seat in Formula 1. The most prominent of these is Nyck De Vries, who was the Formula E champion last year with the Mercedes-EQ team. Following winning the Formula 2 championship in 2019, Nyck’s success in Formula E has been phenomenal, but it does seem a shame that he hasn’t had a chance to shine in Formula 1 yet.

Another more recent driver to make the move to Formula E from Formula 2 is Dan Ticktum, who has been surrounded by a lot of controversies recently. He was dropped from the Williams Driver Academy at the end of last year and it seems that he was never going to make it to Formula 1 without their backing, despite being one of the strongest drivers in Formula 2 last year and finishing 4th in the 2021 Formula 2 championship.

Now we have covered some of the drivers you might have already heard of if you are a fan of other motorsport series, I thought it would be a good idea to list all of the drivers and which teams they race for, so you can familiarise yourself with some of the new names:

Avalanche Andretti – Jake Dennis and Oliver Askew

Dragon / Penske – Sergio Sette Camara and Antonio Giovinazzi

DS Techeetah – Antonio Felix da Costa and Jean-Eric Vergne

Envision – Robin Frijns and Nick Cassidy

Jaguar – Sam Bird and Mitch Evans

Mahindra – Alexander Sims and Oliver Rowland

Mercedes-EQ – Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck De Vries

Nio 333 – Oliver Turvey and Dan Ticktum

Nissan E-Dams – Maximilian Guenther and Sébastien Buemi

RoKiT Venturi – Edoardo Mortara and Lucas Di Grassi

Tag Heuer Porsche – Andre Lotterer and Pascal Wehrlein

Now, let’s move on to the circuits that Formula E races at. Formula E races at street circuits across the world, rather than traditional race circuits. This means that the tracks are very narrow for the most part, leading to some very risky and close overtakes, quite a few collisions with the walls, and overall, some very exciting racing. Locations that the series will visit this year include Diriyah, Mexico City, Rome, Monaco, Berlin, Jakarta, Vancouver, New York, London and Seoul. The championship started at the end of January in Diriyah and will conclude in Seoul in August.

The championship started at the end of January in Diriyah and will conclude in Seoul in August

A new aspect of Formula E is the updated qualifying method, which is completely different to Formula 1. The 22 drivers are split into two groups of 11, and the fastest four from each of those two groups go through to the quarter-finals. The final eight then go head-to-head in a series of one-on-one battles, with the fastest four progressing to the semi-final, and the fastest two to the final, to determine who is on pole position. At first, this seems confusing but having watched it, I thought it was a very effective method since it reduced the traffic on the track and it was very entertaining to watch.

Finally, I wanted to break down some of the more unique phrases that you will hear whilst watching Formula E. The first one is attack mode. This can be activated by the drivers if they drive through a certain area of the track, and it boosts the power to their engines for three minutes. Additionally, drivers can receive a brief five-second boost from the ‘fan boost’. This allows fans to vote for their favourite driver throughout the week leading up to the race and often gives the drivers enough momentum to overtake the car in front of them. Formula E is the only motorsport series (to my knowledge, anyway) that allows fans to potentially have a direct impact on the outcome of the race.

Even though this whistle-stop tour provides you with all of the basics, Formula E is a series that can be better understood by watching it live, which you can do on Channel 4 Sport. The next race is in Mexico City on 12th February 2022 at 2pm.

Gemma Cockrell

Featured image used courtesy of [_chrisUK] via [Flickr]. No changes were made to this image. Image use license here.

In article image 1 courtesy of [@nyckdevries] via [Instagram]. No changes were made to this image. 

In article image 2 courtesy of [@antogiovinazzi99] via [Instagram]. No changes were made to this image. 

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