Formula One isn’t what it once was, it’s entering the realm of boring, or has entered, depending on your point of view. It wasn’t always this way, F1 used to be serious wheeling at insane speeds, massive crashes, a technological arms race and rivalries between drivers. Now days it’s more a matter of how exactly will Louis Hamilton win this race after qualifying for pole position. You can watch the first corner then go about your business for the day now that you’ve seen the whole race. This isn’t much of an exaggeration either, do you know how many passes there were in all of Formula 1 last year? 435. Between 20 races and 20 cars on the grid, that means that only about half of the cars do anything during each race.
If you were hoping to find entertainment elsewhere in F1 you will be sadly dispirited since crashes rarely happen, any actual drama that occurs is in the backroom politics, and the technology is stagnating. F1 truly has become Bernie Ecclestone’s jejune dream come true.
What if I told you that there is a race series out there that is as exciting as the 1500 HP turbocharged glory days of Formula 1? A series where the names Prost and Piquet still ring true, and what if I added that you don’t require an 88 MPH DeLorean to see it? Madness, I know, but it really does exist.
Formula E offers everything we would all want from Formula 1 that the powdered wigs of Formula One Group refuse to let us have. I know that everyone has universally been singing the praises of Formula E but, I personally don’t pay much mind to that. You can’t really tell how much is genuine and how much is noise from the hype train. I do have to say that this is real hype though.
I popped on Race 1 of the 2018 Hong Kong E Prix a while back on a whim only to be pleasantly surprised. It is a bit cheeky to call their grand prix the E Prix but don’t let that dissuade you from actually watching it because this is some of the best actual racing I’ve seen in quite some time.
Some of this might be a by-product of the track since the Hong Kong harborside street course is very narrow and technical, even F1 would have a hard time making boring. That being said, these cars were being flung around a track by mad men and women. That made for a good race with some really spectacular mid-corner passing and least a half dozen spin outs.
With Formula E you get a relatively short races of only 43 laps, a break, then some more racing, which means you can sit down, watch it then get on with your life. You also get a sense that these races matter, these cars are test beds for manufacturers to experiment with EV technology. Brands like Mahindra, Renault, Citroën’s DS brand and Jaguar all have a stake in this series, in addition to other racing only brands such as Penske and Venturi. As much of a touring car and drag racing fan as I am, you don’t get the technology trickling down to standard cars like you do with these top tier motorsport ventures.
With the traditional big names in racing, namely NASCAR and Formula 1, becoming excruciatingly boring these days it’s refreshing to sit down and be legitimately vested in motorsport again. Yes, I know we have WRC Rallycross and Stadium Trucks which are just as exciting but there is something to proper asphalt racing without having off road sections or a bunch of jumps along the track. This is pure driving in anger and it feels good to have it back again. So the next time you have a chance to pop on a Formula E race, I highly recommend doing so because you will not regret it.