The first race of the highly anticipated Formula E championship will take place this weekend in Beijing, China.
I consider myself a hardcore motorsports enthusiast. While there are certain styles of racing that I prefer, in general, I enjoy them all. There is one series that could change that: Formula-E.
Keeping an open mind
In the months prior to the inaugural Formula E race, I've kept an open mind to the true potential for this series. I've heard from multiple people involved in and there is an air of positivity regarding its chances of success. Alejandro Agag and company are doing things differently and they're doing it that way for a reason. With Formula 1 and NASCAR seeing a reduction in viewership both at the track and on television, it's fairly clear that the status quo doesn't guarantee results when it comes to race promotion.
Street circuits - Smart move
Running exclusively on street circuits could be an absolutely fantastic decision. Some of the most successful events in recent years have been held on street circuits - think Monaco, Singapore, Long Beach, etc ... And giving easy access to the masses seems to make sense. The only question is if a series consisting only of street circuits will be too much of a good thing. Is part of the allure to Singapore and Monaco due to the fact that they are the exception rather than the norm on the Formula 1 calendar? The saying "if everything is special then nothing is special," could prove to be true in this case.
Another thing that I have high hopes for is the technology. Electric power is the future in automotive technology, there's no doubt about it. With today's hypercars utilizing hybrid systems to produce more power and family sedans using them to reduce fuel consumption, the use of electric power in production vehicles will continue to grow. I've been fascinated by the solutions that Formula 1 and LMP1 teams have come up with in recent times and a fully electric series will definitely make the development of electric systems advance even quicker.
Speed ... Don't make it an issue because it's not
As the development in the electrical systems increases, so will the speeds, which currently seem to be a concern to motorsports fans. It's true that these cars are down on power when compared to other top level championships, but that has absolutely no bearing on how competitive the races will be. I've been lucky enough to witness hundreds of races in my lifetime and I can tell you that a majority of the races that have had me at the edge of my seat until the checkered flag flew have had one thing in common: low horsepower. We have yet to see how tight the action is, but I don't believe power output will have any impact on whether or not there is wheel-to-wheel action.
What about the sound (or lack thereof)?
The one aspect of Formula-E that I personally struggle with is the sound. The sound of true racing cars like the Mazda 787, Cadillac CTS-V, HPD LMP1 car, etc. - that's what gets the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. I've seen electric racing in the past and while the cars were undoubtedly quick, there was just something missing. I am hopeful that the lack of a shrieking or booming exhaust note will not make potential fans, myself included, tune out to a series with such great potential.
The answers to these concerns and more will start to become clearer after the inaugural race on the streets of Beijing...