On the Sideline: Formula E drives into the racing headlights

With five-time Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton considering switching to Formula E after his contract ends next year, it is easy to assume that the all-electric racing series will become the future of motorsport, rivaling that of the longstanding F1 racing series.

Formula E is currently in the middle of its fifth season, with the Paris ePrix marking its 53rd race since its inception in 2014. Both Formula E and F1 feature single-seater open cockpit cars, but Formula E vehicles are entirely battery powered. This might seem counterintuitive, as motorsport fans generally want to see cars at extremely high speeds with the classic racing exhaust notes.

However, the motorsport is still developing and has a higher ceiling of success compared to F1. The relatively new racing series features more manufacturer teams than F1, including big names such as Audi, Venturi and Penske. Compared to F1, which only features teams from Europe, the team makeup of Formula E is more diverse, with teams hailing from Japan, China and America.

The technology of electric cars and hardware has also improved tremendously since the beginning of the series. During the first four seasons of Formula E, drivers used two separate cars to finish races, since the battery didn’t last long enough. Currently, not only do they only use one car to finish the race, but the cars have also become faster. Although F1 cars have a distinct gap in top speed compared to Formula E cars (372.6 km/h vs 280.0 km/h) , both vehicles reach 62 mph in 2.8 seconds.

A number of countries have pledged to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars in the coming years. Norway is aiming to ban it by 2025, while France, Ireland and the Netherlands are aiming for 2030.  Clearly, the car industry is shifting towards sustainable energy sources and Formula E can potentially gain popularity as a result.

The innovation in technology has become the driving force for the accumulating fanbase of Formula E, not the high speeds and capability of a diesel engine. Formula E has also paved the way for more exclusive technology to be used in electric vehicles catered to the public. Famous names such as Leonardo di Caprio and Richard Branson have invested in the electric motorsports industry, both owning their own racing teams. In due time, Formula E and other potential new electric racing series will replace the current top dogs of motorsport racing. This is not only beneficial for the sustainability of the motorsport industry, but also the future of battery-powered vehicles.