formula e race one

We’re in the winter months where most Formula 1 drivers are either taking a break or diving into early testing. One F1 driver has made the move to Formula E straight away. Stoffel Vandoorne had a disappointing race so I learned he’s consistent, but what else has the first race of the 2018/2019 season taught us? Is it worth watching?

Formula E is Fun and Creative

If you got excited about the possibility of Wipeout featuring on the PlayStation Classic just to have your hopes dashed, maybe give Formula E a chance. After watching one race, I already feel like Formula 1 just takes itself way too seriously.

Formula E appears to be letting people in very similar cars race toe-to-toe with a healthy sprinkling of tactics and strategy in the mix too.

There are a few elements of the race that support this point, but none more so than the halo.

In Formula 1, many debated how useful or necessary the halo protective enclosure is over the cockpit. Pundits, drivers and fans argued over it being ugly and even potentially making cars more dangerous. Formula E has taken a very different approach, embracing the halo as a futuristic, on-car status indicator.

When a driver activates Attack Mode or Fan Boost, their halo lights up blue or magenta respectively so fans know they’re using extra power. I love this idea! Here’s what Attack Mode looks like on the halo:

formula e halo light indicators
Sebastian Buemi’s Nissan e.dams in full Attack Mode

Boosts Make a Difference

Boosts have been ever-present in Formula E though, in the races I’ve watched, Fan Boost has never really made a huge impact. I’ve got a feeling that they may be more of a marketing ploy than an attempt to influence the race.

Attack Mode, on the other hand, makes for some massive tactical manoeuvres and race changing decisions. In the 2018/2019 curtain raiser, GEOX Dragon’s Jóse María Lopez made a dive for the Attack Mode activation zone. The zone is off the racing line and will costs you a second or two to collect your reward of a power boost. The problem for Lopez was he lost the time trying to activate the boost but then missed the zone. Double whammy! No boost and lost time trying.

There was also some clever tactical use of Attack Mode after a safety car. It’s a very interesting addition to the race format.

Formula E is Rough Around the Edges

It’s clear as day that this is a sport in its infancy. I’m not talking about drivers getting used to rules and the likes, but the actual broadcast itself it pretty rough around the edges. Yellow flag graphics on screen when there was no yellow flag on track, commentators speaking over team radios and team radios just being terrible are just a few of the production bits that seemed to be a little flakey on day one of the Formula E season. 

I’m hoping it’s just day one jitters because Sky’s Formula 1 coverage is so brilliant that this is the bar Formula E will be measured against. The introduction of the Attack Mode activation zone proved quite the problem as it was around halfway through the race before I got to see a car go through the zone at all!

There also seemed to be quite a few miscommunications between race organisers and the stream providers and even the teams. Penalties were being dished out but unfortunately, viewers had no idea what the reason was. Thankfully, these are all easy fixes.

It’s For The Fans

Formula E is brilliant for new fans. I mean that in terms of it being very accessible. I was able to watch everything on either Facebook or YouTube. While some TV stations are also showing the races, having it all available on open platforms just makes life much easier.

With that said, I’ve not convinced that the fans are totally in love with Formula E just yet. It’s early days and tickets are cheap, so races do look like they’re being attended by people who just happened to have some free time at the time of the race. I’m also pretty convinced that there’s some dodgy use of stock cheering sounds to make the crowd sound more into things.

via ytCropper

Regardless, I’m 99% sure it’s just a matter of time until Formula E hits the mainstream. Just don’t expect poor old Stoffel Vandoorne to be a blistering success any time soon.

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Founding Editor of Goosed, Martin is a massive tech fan, into movies and will talk about anything to anyone. - Find me on Mastodon