The history of Formula-E: a unique race getting more and more competitive
In just a few years, the Formula-E concept has completely evolved thanks to electric racing cars and industry innovations. Eco-friendly racing is a relatively new phenomenon. Electric vehicles have not yet gone universal; their producers, however, are making major break-throughs from year to year. Thanks to their impressive capacities, they are now a worthy alternative to fuel-driven cars. The history of Formula-E is yet quite young, dating back only 8 years. During this time, however, the race has undergone a significant evolution, getting more professional and exciting year after year. From its very inception, Formula-E has not aimed to replace Formula-1.
Quite the opposite, it has sought to stand out with a different concept and with the electric cars sleek look, whilst reducing CO2 emissions. Formula-E is completely electric, making racing possible right in the city centre, rather than requiring other tracks. The FIA, regulating Formula racing, has also largely welcomed its efforts on reducing emissions.
Under the careful guidance of Jules Bianchi and Alexandre Prem, the first 100% electric single-seater, Formulec, was raced back in 2010 at Magny-Cours and Le Mans. This project, led by the Frenchmen Eric Barbarou and Pierre Gosselin, was at the heart of the future Formula-E championship, coming fully to life four years later. Alejandro Agag, the Formula-E CEO and visionary, has always believed in this new generation of electric car racing, combining innovation, technology, sustainability and fun.
The first Formula-E race took place in 2014, opening the international Beijing Olympic Park series. The race lasted for one hour, as the electric vehicles did not yet have sufficient battery life. The drivers had to change their cars halfway through the competition. Among the cities hosting the first Formula- E races were: Beijing, Putrajaya, Punta del Este, Buenos Aires, Miami, Long Beach, Monaco, Berlin and London.
First accident and first winner
Electric car racing only dates back a few years, but it already has had its accidents. The very first edition of Formula-E was marked by quite a dangerous collision. Lucas Di Grassi won that 2014 Formula-E in Beijing, taking advantage of a spectacular crash on the track. Braking at the corner of the last lap, Nicolas Prost, as close to the victory as he could be, collided with Heidfeld. The German lost control, and his Venturi electric car crashed into the fence, turning upside down.
After 25 laps on the track, the Brazilian racer Lucas Di Grassi thus became the first winner of the Formula-E race. He is now part of the Monegasque Rokit Venturi Racing team. This was not the only race, however, that proved Lucas Di Grassi’s excellence in Formula-E. In 2016, he won yet another E-Prix dream victory in the Parisian streets. This was only ever possible at the wheel of an electric vehicle.
Since the very first E-Prix race, BMW has been Formula-E Official Automotive Partner.
BMW i8 is the official safety car, i3 – the race director’s car, 530e iPerformance – the ambulance.
Former Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr. became the first Formula-E champion in 2105 as part of China’s NextEV team. He was warmly greeted by Alejandro Agag, the Formula-E organizer and Jean Todt, then FIA President. The French E DAMS-Renault was proclaimed the team winner.
The first racing season had seven winners representing six different teams. A triple champion Sébastien Buemi was leading the competition, followed by Sam Byrd and Nelson Piquet Jr.
A number of Formula-1 drivers having retired from the prestigious championship pursued their illustrious careers in Formula E. Among them are FelippeMassa, representing the Monegasque Venturi team and Luca Di Grassi, equally competing for Monaco. Not to forget Heikki Kovalainen, Esteban Gutierrez, Jacques Villeneuve, Sebastien Buemi, Jerome d’Ambrosio, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Bruno Senna just to name a few.
New seasons, new regulations and new records
The 2015/16 calendar counted ten races in nine different cities, while Formula-E added seven new manufacturers to its ranks. The regulations were eased, enabling the teams to develop their engines, converters, gearboxes and rear suspensions, thus increasing the power to 230 hp.
Another Formula-E particularity consisted in drivers having to change their cars in the midst of a race, as the power was still not sufficient to last until the finish line. During the first four seasons, it happened to be one of the most spectacular moments, the racers swapping cars at an incredible speed.
The third season was marked by quite a major change in the calendar. Formula-E travelled to Hong Kong for the first time, stopping by in Africa in Marrakech and finally holding a double race in New York, the first time since 1896.
It was also the first time in 12 years that Jaguar was back as a racing car manufacturer.
The 5th season marked the beginning of a bold new era for the electric city racing, introducing the new Gen2 car. With an incredible Batmobile look, it delivered even more power thanks to a new, lighter battery, developing power and speed of up to 225 hp, with a maximum of 280 km/h. The increase in battery capacity also made the pit stops unnecessary, since the car could now race in the new 45-minutes format, plus one more speed lap.
After six years and six seasons of street racing in the world’s most famous cities, in December 2019, Formula-E was awarded World Championship status by the FIA.
In 2022, Formula-E opened its eighth season in Saudi Arabia, in the historic city of Diriyah. It was a double race. The first victory went to Nick de Vries, the Mercedes-EQ team. And the second was won by Edoardo Mortara from Monegasque Venturi Racing.
In 2023, the World Electric Racing Championship is expected to introduce even more innovative and enduring cars.
Venturi, the Monaco team among record holders
ROKiT Venturi Racing has competed in the FIA Formula E World Championship since its very inception. It was the first manufacturer to join in December 2013. In June 2018, the Monegasque brand took an important step appointing Susie Wolff as Team Director. She truly took Venturi to the next level, optimizing the team’s performance. Anticipating the sixth Formula E season, Venturi partnered with Mercedes-Benz. And just prior to the season opener in Diriyah, it announced a three-year titular partnership with global telecommunications innovator ROKiT that has trusted the team with expanding its motorsports portfolio.
Having won 4 championships and taken 13 podium places in Hong Kong, Mexico, Berlin and Saudi Arabia, Monaco’s racing team is now looking brightly into the future, with its brilliant drivers daring style & black and white colours. In 2022, ROKiT Venturi Racing is represented by Edoardo Mortara and Lucas Di Grassi. The ambitious Monegasque pilots are certainly going to be competitive with the world’s best teams.
Venturi is renowned for its design and eco-friendly innovations. It has distinguished itself many a time breaking world records, under the ever strict guidance of Gildo Pastor, the Venturi Group Chairman. The Antarctica research vehicle, designed and built by Venturi, was the world’s first electrical research facility adapted to a harsh local climate. The Venturi Group has quite remarkably also set 21 electric motorcycle world speed records including in November 2021 with its Voxan.
Formula-E making the world a better place
One of the E-Formula’s primary missions is racing electric vehicles, whilst reducing harmful emissions into the atmosphere and striving for a better world. In the course of its not so long history, Formula-E drivers have been incessantly making efforts in this direction.
In 2016, Lucas Di Grassi crossed the Arctic ice in Greenland abord a Formula-E racing car. This was to make the public aware of the warmest year in history, with the ice caps reaching historically low levels.
A Formula-E racing car has also famously competed with a cheetah. This animal was chosen for a reason, being one of the most exposed to the climate change threat. In 2017, a youtube video of a Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne racing with a cheetah exceeded 50 million views. Felipe Massa met yet another challenge lauded by his fans at the wheel of the new Gen2. He raced the fastest bird in the world in a straight line.
The « And WeGo Green» long-awaited documentary has been recently presented at the Cannes Film Festival. It introduces us behind the scenes of the racing drivers and demonstrates Formula E’s contribution to the climate change fight.
Formula-E is the very first carbon-neutral sports. Incessantly supporting a good cause, Formula-E is investing in certified international projects to offset its electric vehicles’ emissions during the racing seasons.