Formula E 2019: ‘The most competitive championship in the world’

The “Generation 2” cars boast a new, striking design and, with 85% more energy, now drive faster and for longer than ever before.

Gone are the car swaps half way through a race, while the races themselves will now take place within a 45-minute time limit.

Mitch Evans, a driver for Jaguar, estimates there will be an extra 100 horsepower at the racers’ disposal, creating significantly more down force and really bringing into play, for the first time, tire management strategies.

Nelson Piquet Jr., Evans’ teammate, won the inaugural championship and has experienced first hand the evolution of a rapidly growing sport.

“Since season one, things have changed a lot,” he told CNN. “In season one a lot of people didn’t understand it or took it a bit as a joke. It was hard to explain to people.

“To be honest, I didn’t really know what the future of Formula E was in the beginning and now we’re starting season five already.

“It’s the series that has the most amount of manufacturers in the world so I couldn’t be in a better place and people that don’t believe in it, I hope they start believing in it because the series is just at the beginning of what it’s going to be.

“In five years from now it’s going to be hard to imagine how much further we’re going to be and how big the series is going to grow.”

‘Tantalizing’

Such is the sport’s growing popularity, drivers from championships around the world are offering themselves to join Formula E, some “for low money just because they want to be part of the series,” says Piquet Jr.

This season, the most significant addition to the driver lineup is Felipe Massa, who joins after 15 years in Formula One.

“The level of drivers that are attracted to the series is just so high,” Evans tells CNN. “I think it’s going to be the most competitive championship in the world in terms of the caliber of driver.

“The depth of talent is just remarkable, so it’s great to be part of that.”

Evans’ boss and Jaguar team principle James Barclay believes that with the quality of drivers joining, along with all the world’s top manufacturers now involved, Formula E “has gone beyond the proving itself phase.”

The Formula E 'Gen2' car design is strikingly different.

“In terms of ‘is the concept right?’ It’s without a doubt right,” he said. “The conversation has now shifted from ‘is it relevant?’ to just how quickly and excitingly Formula E is developing.

“It’s a really positive time, as a championship it’s only four years old so it’s incredible to think of the viewing figures that we’re starting to see.”

Forbes estimates that more than 300 million viewers globally watched at least one Formula E race on TV last season, and an average of 27.1 million watched each individual race.

Those figures are a huge increasing from the 18.6 million that tuned in for each race during the 2016-17 season.

“[It’s] the fastest growing form of motorsport and I think the future is incredibly exciting,” Barclay adds.

“From a fan’s point of view, the prospect of all these great manufacturers with an incredibly exciting driver lineup, is really tantalizing.”

What makes this upcoming season in particular so exciting, is how close the gap between the teams in first and last place is likely to be.

Barclay, Evans and Piquet Jr. believe the introduction of the “Gen2” car, and all the technical changes that come with it, will act as a leveler between the teams with the most and least experience in Formula E.

However, the advantage gained through the experience of those who have been in the sport for longer will still play a part.

Race is on

Nelson Piquet Jr. driving the new Jaguar Formula E car.

Piquet Jr. is confident he can be the driver to emerge victorious from a competitive field and go one step closer to emulating his father, Nelson Piquet, who won three Formula One world championships in the 1980s.

After the Brazilian’s victory in 2014, three different drivers went on to win the subsequent three championships and Piquet Jr. says the race is on to see who can become the first driver to win two world championships.

“I think we’re all waiting to see who will be there first double world champion in Formula E,” he said.

“Obviously I’m trying my best — season two and three were very hard for me because we had a car that wasn’t really quick but now they’re giving me the chance to fight to the top.

“This whole project is not only for me to win a championship but for the team to win a constructor’s championship as well. My goal is to win at least three and equal my dad in world championships.”



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