Categories: News

Formula E: finally the boost?

Si Formula 1, the WRC rally or Moto GP are a hit in audience despite their broadcast on encrypted channels, Formula E, available unencrypted on La Chaîne The team, has, it, always so much evil to take off. Inefficient and hopelessly silent cars, overly complex regulations and layouts of (ephemeral) circuits that are too often soporific have not helped the development of the discipline. With us, the E-Prix (name given to an electric Grand Prix) of Paris, squeezed between the concrete walls, did not convince either. It also disappeared after four tests between April 2016 and April 2019. However, at its beginnings in 2014, this championship seemed equipped to succeed, with 100% electric single-seaters and events taking place in the city center, theoretically more attractive. only old tracks in open country. The cars were certainly modest on a technical level, but they laid the foundations of a discipline with great potential and overseen by the FIA. Above all, despite a few imperfections, the races were hotly contested, with drivers of a very good standard. As for the ephemeral circuits, they made it possible to carry the good word of clean mobility in the city, a godsend for manufacturers pushed by the European Commission to engage in electric. Problem: it is not because these brands insist on talking about their ecological efforts that motorists want to listen to them.

A sport on a drip

Imposed by the major manufacturers with a view to a communication plan, Formula E almost paid dearly for its lack of consistency. If the series got off to a good start and won some media stripes thanks to the spectacular accident of Nick Heidfeld (Venturi) and Nicolas Prost (eDams Renault) in the last corner of the first Beijing E-Prix, the championship almost disappeared after only a few E-Prixes. A year before he bought Formula 1 (2017), the Liberty Media group took control of it and the machine started up again… a little. But for now, the American group is unable to achieve the same tour de force as with F1. Added to this is another problem for this “decarbonised” discipline: the instability of its calendar. It seems difficult to organize races in town and to commit municipalities in the long term. In addition, local residents often act against the organizers. Even in Berlin, the only city present since the start of the championship, the only attempt to leave the concrete runways of the historic Tempelhof airport for the streets of the city resulted in an outcry from environmentalists. A shame for a “zero emission” sport, necessarily very attentive to its environmental impact. Today, apart from exceptions such as Monaco, which is already installing intramural infrastructures for Formula 1, Formula E is most frequently held on circuits located certainly in an urban environment, but not in the city centre. Because it requires heavy fittings. Permanent places like the Tempelhof in Berlin, the ExCel London or the Autodromo Hermanos Rodrigues in Mexico City are less original but much more practical than any ephemeral layout.

The third-generation single-seaters made their first laps during pre-season testing in Valencia (Spain) last December.

Jean-Eric Vergne dominated the championship and won the Paris E-Prix in April 2018, with the Techeetah team.

Deprived of E-Prix since 2019, Paris is also not on the calendar for the 2023 season.

Discussions are underway for a future edition, but the obstacles seem numerous.

In 2014, when he was about to be overtaken a few meters from the finish of the Beijing E-Prix by Nick Heidfeld (Venturi), Nicolas Prost (eDams Renault) sent the German into the background . Both pilots escape unscathed.

Surely too artificial at the start, Formula E has become a serious championship, in which several major manufacturers are involved. Over the seasons, Audi, BMW, Cupra, DS Automobiles, Jaguar, Mahindra, Maserati, Mc Laren, Mercedes, Nissan and Porsche have been or still are. Everyone sees in this virtuous motorsport the ideal tool for good greenwashing. In addition, it is a great opportunity for them to test life-size green technologies before adapting them to their production models. Thus, even if the viewers are rare, the investment is worth the candle with regard to the expenses incurred. However, some manufacturers seem to neglect the sporty aspect a little too much.

A quality board

The drivers may not all be famous, but they generally come from categories where the competition is very tough and the level high, in the United States or in Asia. Others come from Formula 1, like Nelson Piquet Jr, the first to have won the drivers’ championship, Sébastien Buemi, titled in Formula E with Renault, but also Stoffel Vandoorne, the reigning champion, or even Pascal Wehrlein. , Jacques Villeneuve (who is however not very tender when he talks about discipline), Vitantonio Luizzi and Antonio Giovinazzi. Without forgetting, of course, the Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne, landed at Red Bull in 2014 and arrived in Formula E in the Andretti team the same year. In December, in Punta del Este (Uruguay), he took pole position despite having never driven an electric single-seater! Since then, the Ile-de-France resident has won two driver titles in Formula E, with Techeetah (2017-2018), then with DS Techeetah (2018-2019). Currently still with DS Automobiles in Formula E (his main program), he also races in endurance with Peugeot and, like many other Formula E drivers, also participates in the WEC championship, mainly to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans more than to a financial matter. Formula E is the most profitable discipline after F1, far ahead of the WRC (with some exceptions) and endurance. It is also the only paying driverless championship.

In 2023, more powerful, lighter and highly technological single-seaters will make their debut on the track. And three Frenchmen will be on the starting line: Jean-Eric Vergne at DS Penske, Norman Nato and Sacha Fenestraz at Nissan Formula E Team. Will Formula E end up interesting viewers in France? Let’s hope so, because she deserves it. Those who still doubt it will have plenty of time to watch a race on La Chaîne The teamit’s free !

Calendar for the 2023 season

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