Formula 1

From Buenos Aires to New York City: The Formula E journey continues!

My first involvement with Formula E was on September 9th, 2013. A year before the first race in Beijing, I was at the Frankfurt Motor Show to host a short series of videos for the series’ YouTube channel explaining what the brand new series was all about. Almost nine years and 100 races later, I’m in a hotel looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows at Seoul, a modern metropolis, ahead of the Season 8 finale. The phrase “the more things change, the more they stay the same” was coined by French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, and it feels perfectly apt for Formula E, because despite huge changes in so many ways since the championship’s inception, it remains the same sporting joy that it was all those years ago for me. As an example, consider Season 1 of Buenos Aires. It was the fourth Formula E race, and it was a beautiful sunny day in the Argentine capital, with temperatures reaching 31 degrees at the start of the race. I had eaten far too many steaks, and Sebastien Buemi was in pole position. Buemi took the lead, but crashed out with 12 laps remaining. Di Grassi took the lead, but crashed out three laps later at the same corner. Heidfeld took over the lead, but received a drive through penalty for exiting the pits when the pit exit was closed, which he served on the final lap, meaning Antonio Felix da Costa won the race from eighth on the grid after leading only the final lap. Season 8 of New York City is now available. It was the 95th Formula E race, and it was a beautiful sunny day in the United States’ largest city, with temperatures reaching 29 degrees at the start of the race. I was eating way too much pizza, and Sebastien Buemi was starting fifth on the grid. We were having a great battle for first place when the rain came, and chaos ensued. Cassidy crashed out of first place. Di Grassi would have inherited first, had he not crashed out at the exact same time. The red flag was flown, and Cassidy still won the race having been in the barriers when the race ended.

Clearly, so much has changed between those two races. Season 1, the cars were considerably slower, and wouldn’t last a full race distance, forcing the drivers to swap cars half way through. There were only two full car manufacturer entries of Mahindra and Venturi, compared to nine last season! Thirty-six drivers competed in 20 cars in the first year, whereas Season 8 would have had every driver complete the full season had Sam Bird not broken his hand in London last time out. The level of professionalism, efficiency and performance of the teams and drivers has increased exponentially year-on-year. The same buzz, eight seasons on But for all the undeniable growth Formula E has experienced, it still feels the same to me. I still have the exact same buzz before a race that I have had ever since that fourth race in Buenos Aires. That was the race that showed me what Formula E could be, and what the sporting proposition of this championship is all about; intense, unpredictable motor racing. Electric motor racing, but motor racing nevertheless, and perhaps that is the thing that feels the most familiar after nine years in this paddock. We started with a goal to improve the perception and uptake of electric vehicles, and that goal still remains, and the best part is that whether it’s the drivers, teams or partners, everyone is united on that front and continues to work together to try and make this championship as good as it can be. So, after Formula E began with a race around the Olympic Stadium of an East Asian capital city, we get ready to celebrate the 100th event with a race around the Olympic Stadium of an East Asian capital city. “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”.