Formula E: Three races in, and I'm still interested

The new series has rough edges, but gets a lot right.

Formula E: Three races in, and I'm still interested
Nick Heidfeld, Venturi
Bruno Senna, Mahindra Racing
Bruno Senna, Mahindra Racing
Bruno Senna, Mahindra Racing
Sebastien Buemi, e.dams-Renault
Sebastien Buemi, e.dams-Renault
Sebastien Buemi, e.dams-Renault
Nick Heidfeld, Venturi
Bruno Senna, Mahindra Racing

Typically, my rule of thumb is three: I’ll give a new restaurant three meals, a new TV series three episodes, and, in this case, a new racing series three events before I decide if I’m interested in more.

Today, Formula E ran its third event, the Punta del Este ePrix in, of all places, Uruguay. And while there remains some rough edges to smooth, Formula E still has my attention.

The street course in Uruguay appeared to be built late last night, possibly for go-karts. These Formula E cars are comparatively large and wide and need some room to make late-braking passes – typical of any spec series where the cars are essentially identical except for the paint. They almost pivot around corners, apparently resistant to pure finesse, which does not make the racing bad, but it does make it different, as do the tall Michelin tires.

The Punta del Este track had some pretty massive temporary curbing, which, when hit by a car improperly, launched it, sometime into the wall. I’d love to see these cars on a nice, wide, proper road course like Road America – so far, races like the one today seem downright claustrophobic.

The driver lineup is a peculiar mix of genuine professionals and presumed ride-buyers, but those pros, like today’s winner, Sebastien Buemi, as well as Nick Heidfeld, Bruno Senna, Jarno Trulli, Nelson Piquet, Jr., and points leader Lucas di Grassi would be welcome on any grid. And the fact that there have been three winners in three races speaks well to the level of competition.

TV coverage must get better

What is, perhaps, holding the series back as much as anything is the grim television coverage. The announcers sound like they are broadcasting from a subway platform. The photography often seems to have little correlation to the action, and poor Bob Varsha, here stateside, is trying to herd cats as he gives his updates around the abrupt TV commercials breaks. The coverage for the third race was better than the first, but just incrementally. This must improve.

And I’m still a bit at sea regarding a long-term business plan. Since all the cars are essentially Renault products, there is no real opportunity for auto manufacturers to get involved, and they have been the chief financiers of most every major series.

That said, Formula E, in a short time, has gotten an amazing amount right. And I’ll be tuning in next month for episode four from Argentina.

shares
comments
Matt Brabham impresses in Uruguay Formula E

Previous article

Matt Brabham impresses in Uruguay Formula E

Next article

Formula E at Punta del Este set some new series high marks

Formula E at Punta del Este set some new series high marks
Load comments
How Formula E stood up to F1 comparisons in Monaco Prime

How Formula E stood up to F1 comparisons in Monaco

OPINION: It was no surprise to anybody that the laptimes achieved by Formula E cars on the full Monaco circuit were much slower than Formula 1. But perhaps the more relevant comparison was in the racing spectacle, where FE delivered in spades.

Formula E
May 12, 2021
How Monaco dealt Formula E a winning hand to cure its hangover Prime

How Monaco dealt Formula E a winning hand to cure its hangover

Formula E faced much criticism in the wake of its maligned Valencia event. In need of a turnaround, the series' first use of Monaco's iconic Formula 1 layout provided it with the injection of thrills required to clear the fog that had enveloped the paddock.

Formula E
May 11, 2021
Why Formula E's Valencia fiasco undermines engineering talent Prime

Why Formula E's Valencia fiasco undermines engineering talent

FIA president Jean Todt wanted more Formula E coverage in the media, and got his wish when the opening Valencia E-Prix proved farcical. Despite attempts to spin the race as teams failing to get their sums right, Formula E and its governing body cannot escape blame - especially when trying to get teams to commit long-term.

Formula E
Apr 27, 2021
How Valencia E-Prix farce gave Formula E an image problem Prime

How Valencia E-Prix farce gave Formula E an image problem

Formula E was under the microscope at Valencia, on its first visit to a permanent circuit. But after a mere nine drivers were left classified following Saturday's Valencia E-Prix, the electric championship once more faced criticism after rising energy deductions and miscalculations produced a farcical affair.

Formula E
Apr 25, 2021
How Vergne and Vandoorne found redemption in Rome Prime

How Vergne and Vandoorne found redemption in Rome

Another Formula E double-header, another double dose of frantic action. While the form guide remains unpredictable following fightback wins for Jean-Eric Vergne and Stoffel Vandoorne in Rome, the speed and consistency of Mercedes – both on and off the track – could have its rivals worried for what is to follow

Formula E
Apr 12, 2021
What Nissan's commitment to Gen3 reveals about Formula E's future Prime

What Nissan's commitment to Gen3 reveals about Formula E's future

Formula E's Gen3 era grid continues to take shape, after Nissan opted to commit to the series for another four years. Nissan's global chief operating officer explains why it has thrown its lot in with FE while other high-profile marques have decided to call it quits.

Formula E
Mar 24, 2021
Why the new Formula E season got off to such a controversial start Prime

Why the new Formula E season got off to such a controversial start

With the new Formula E season belatedly getting underway in Saudi Arabia, the championship appeared to try to make up for lost time with an overspill of action and controversy on and off the track. While some talking points could have serious repercussions, it was an explosive opener for many reasons.

Formula E
Mar 1, 2021
The eight major plotlines to watch in Formula E 2021 Prime

The eight major plotlines to watch in Formula E 2021

The delayed 2020-21 Formula E season gets underway this week with a double-header in Saudi Arabia. The testing times were too close to call a favourite, but that's not the only area of interest to follow as the championship enters a crucial year

Formula E
Feb 25, 2021