ABB FIA FORMULA E CHAMPIONSHIP
Sports fan? Gamer? EV enthusiast? The ABB FIA Formula E Championship,
the electric street racing series entering its fifth season, has something to capture
everyone’s imagination. The air around Formula E racing is filled with the high-pitched,
sci-fi sounds of powerful 100% electric motors. The crowd is in on the game, working
social media to give their favorite driver a 100 kJ energy boost. The races snake through
the streets of major cities with breathtaking backdrops from Hong Kong to Paris to New York.
WHAT'S DIFFERENT ABOUT AN ELECTRIC RACE CAR?
The zero-emission race cars look similar to other single-seater racers, but there are huge differences.
For starters, there's no internal combustion engine. Instead, the same battery pack is supplied
to every team, while each team builds a motor, inverter, and gearbox to their own design.
Because electric motors deliver 100% torque instantaneously, these race cars have fierce acceleration.
The redesigned racers for the fifth season will go from 0–100 km/h (62 mph) in under
three seconds (2.8 seconds). And with a top speed of over 280 km/h (174 mph), they'll provide
plenty of thrills on the tight street courses.
In an interesting twist that upends traditional motorsports strategy, the upcoming 2018/19 season
will feature an activation zone that offers access to 225 kW of power – kW being the electric equivalent
of horsepower. With 200 kW in standard race-mode, this seems like an easy choice. However,
it will force teams and drivers to study race strategy more and put a focus on energy management.
FANS GET A SAY IN THE OUTCOME
Another unique aspect about Formula E: spectators have a hand in the competition.
With FANBOOST, fans use social media to vote for their favorite driver. The top three vote-getters
earn a 100 kJ of energy they can use. While fans start voting six days before the race,
voting stays open for the first six minutes of the race – meaning drivers won't know if they
have that extra power until they're in the heat of battle.
Of course, social media is a two-way street. When the payoff is a power boost that can propel
them past a rival, drivers and teams look at engaging with fans in a serious new light.
Answering fan questions and posting team videos is no longer just check-the-box marketing,
it's potentially the difference that will bring home a trophy. This kind of fan leverage may be
putting Formula E at the forefront of another revolution – equalizing the relationship
between player and fan.
A social media platform that gives fans a stake in the outcome has also undoubtedly helped
Formula E connect with a young demographic. While traditional motorsports are struggling
to attract this same audience, fans 13–24 now account for 49 percent of engagements
on the Formula E Facebook page.