Formula E is back this week with its tenth season. Where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday, Nelson Piquet Jr. was being crowned as the first champion, and Renault was dominating as Teams’ Champions. This is a really special type of racing in motorsports, and every year, it gets a little better. As an extremely competitive series, you will find yourself rooting for a favorite driver or team in no time. It is that exciting. Here is what you need to know to jump in and where to watch Formula E.
What is Formula E?
Let me start off. You’ll be jarred by the sound at first. It’s like nothing you are used to from racing cars, but you’ll adapt quickly. Ok, we are past that. Formula E is the first fully and prominent electric racing series, with is unveiling to the world back in 2014. This top-level single-seater championship series has been net-zero from the start. Hitting street courses around the globe in cars from teams with very familiar names. We are now in the era of the Gen3 car; it’s faster, more powerful, lighter, and pushing the technology forward not just for racing but for EVs in the wild.
Much like other Formula series, the drivers who complete the set amount of laps in the fastest time win. The top ten drivers will score points per their position after a race is finished, with the winner being awarded 25 of them. Drivers can earn extra points through having the fastest single lap time as well, one point in the actual race and three points from qualifying.
What is most fascinating about this type of car and racing to me is that the drivers can recharge the battery through regenerative braking. With a powertrain at the front of the car, the Gen3 lets drivers get power from all four tires.
Attack Charge is a system only available at some races, where teams can use the charging stations to add more power to the battery. Last season was the first time they were ever allowed to do this when they pitted.
Were you curious about tires? I knew you were. They compete on a single tire type. Crazy, right? Formula E uses 80% less tires than other motorsports. The Hankook iON race tires are designed specifically to handle any and all conditions. And you guessed it, the tires are also developed with sustainability in mind, with plant-based materials (up to 30%), and completely recycled. Using only six to eight tires a weekend sure is different from other racing, where upwards of 80 tires may be used.
One of my favorite things about motorsports is watching the trickle-down of innovation, like how proper motorsports should be. The technology from the engines to the batteries to the tires used is being honed and tested for the eventual availability to the consumer market. Everyone benefits.
Who to know in Formula E
Eleven teams and 22 drivers make up the garages and grid of Formula E with many familiar names. Nissan, McLaren, and Jaguar, we are certain you’ll find a team and driver to root for.
I’m obviously keeping an eye on former Champion Nyck de Vries as he returns to the series after a less-than-stellar run in Formula 1 with Alpha Tauri. He seems a good fit for Mahindra, and with a very seasoned driver, it will be interesting to see what they are able to do with him in the seat. I am a bit of a cheerleader for Nyck because I do think he was done a little dirty in how he was let go. But we roll on, and so does Nyck.
Last year’s champ, Jack Dennis, has American ties. He races for the one and only Andretti Autosport. Only one driver has been able to maintain their championship from the year before. Does Jack have the literal power to pull this off? Perhaps. With Michael Andretti at the helm, you can certainly understand how Jack became a champion and could be again. See, American teams can be successful, and this is in no way a dig at Gene Haas (nervous look).
Jehan Daruvala is the only rookie on the grid this year, but don’t think that is a disadvantage. He’s pretty pedigreed. If his name sounds familiar, that’s because he is the first and only Indian Formula 2 race winner. Daruvala also holds the honor of being only the second Indian driver to race in Formula E. He will be behind the wheel for Maserati after a full year as Mahindra’s reserve driver. Rookies have historically done well for Venturi/Maserati; Norman Nato, Lucas di Grassi, and Maximilian Guenther all had wins in their first seasons. Maybe there is little magic there.
Now, you know me, and I love a veteran. I’m rooting for Antonio Felix da Costa. He’s participated in every season, is a former Formula E Champion, and races with TAG Heuer Porsche. And you know I’m a fan of Porsche drivers. Never count an old dog out (as they say), and I certainly don’t with this charming man from Portugal.
Formula E season structure
There are 16 rounds (this year) in 10 different locations, covering Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North and South America. There was already a bit of drama with scheduling even before the season started. Round 4, Hyderabad E-Prix, was completely canceled due to a breach of contract. This will give the drivers some rest in between the Saudi Arabian E-Prix doubleheader (yay, night racing!) before jetting off to the absolutely gorgeous course at São Paulo. Personally, I’m excited to see what Tokyo’s E-Prix looks like as they host their first Formula E race.
I’ve mentioned before that if you can get to a race this year, please do. (London is partially indoors and totally wild!) Formula E does an amazing job with fan events and creating an atmosphere. They really think about the whole experience. The season kicked off this week in Mexico City. This is an electrifying track that drivers love for the overtaking opportunities and visually stunning layout. Being one of the fastest tracks of the year, there are sure to be some thrills. What a way to start season 10!
Where to watch
It’s actually quite easy to catch practices, qualifying, and the actual race for those in the USA. Free Practice 1 is on Fridays, and obviously, the times will be different for those given locations. You can catch practices on Formula E’s Roku Channel, YouTube Channel, or through their app.
Your Saturday holds Free Practice2, Qualifying, and the Race. Qauli and the feature race will be held for free on that Roku Channel, which is available on most streaming devices. Getting all that content without paying a penny is truly mint.
If you want to better understand electric technology in the automotive space I cannot recommend Racing Green enough. It was absolutely one of my favorite reads last year, and I was an EV novice. (check out our EVs Explained series for more!) Author Kit Chapman turns a deep and detailed history with big words and bigger concepts into a palatable and humorous travel tale. You certainly don’t need a degree in physics or aerodynamics to learn about the evolution of electronic vehicle technology.
This book is in my to-read pile. It’s a true behind-the-scenes look at teams, drivers, concepts, technology, and, of course, the history of the series. This book was written pre-Gen3 car, so you won’t get any insight on that, but it’s still packed with tales of first-hand experiences from the formative years.
Yes, to use the comparison, this is Formula E’s Drive to Survive. Unplugged! Season 3 is on my “What to Watch in January” list. Seasons one and two of Unplugged are on Paramount +. Season 3 has three episodes out right now on their YouTube channel. New episodes will launch every Monday and Wednesday until February 5th.
Every race from last season is archived for you to watch in its entirety on Roku Channel as well.
Enjoy this historic 10th year, and let us know who you are cheering on.