The World Endurance Championship and World Rally Championship have the weight of history, fantastic venues, greater speed and – it must be said – more spectacle. But Formula E beats both on a couple of key points: perceived relevance to the world’s car manufacturers, which have flocked in ever-increasing numbers to the series; and a quality grid of drivers boasting familiar names and raw talent that, pound for pound, only just falls short of F1.
To ignore it now, as the series embarks on its fifth season this coming weekend, would be churlish. Here are some reasons why.
1 The series has a world-class calendar of races
Formula E hasn’t yet attracted the mass global appeal of F1, but it’s making gains. And the two codes share more in common than official FIA status, not least a tendency to turn a blind eye to human rights… The choice of Riyadh in Saudia Arabia for the first round on Saturday is unfortunate, given recent events.
Still, from a sporting and commercial perspective the line-up of 12 cities that host the 13 rounds offer the manufacturers, sponsors and media an attractive proposition. As F1 struggles to maintain rounds in its traditional heartland – Britain, Germany, France, Italy and others could all lose their grands prix without F1 intervention – Formula E’s brand of pop-up street tracks appear in the likes of Hong Kong, Rome, Paris, Monaco, Berlin and New York. The last named has long been courted by F1 for years, but a GP has never materialised. In contrast, FE boasts a double-header season climax in the Big Apple. That’s kudos right there.