Spanish businessman and Formula E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag believes the all-electric series could be the only viable form of motorsport left by 2040, overtaking Formula One in the process: “I think Formula E is going to get really, really big. I believe that in 20, 30, 40 years, we will be the only motorsport out there. There may be others but we will be probably the main motorsport because the world will be electric. If the world is not electric in 20 or 30 years, we are in trouble. So, even if that happens, then Formula E will be the championship of the cars.” – Alejandro Agag explained, as reported by the British media.
Formula E announced a multi-year title sponsorship partnership with Swedish-Swiss industrial technology company ABB to be renamed as the ‘ABB FIA Formula E Championship’ from this weekend’s race in Marrakesh. The deal is understood to be worth in the region of $15 million per year to Formula E and will last until at least 2025, as the seven-year contract through 2025 for the electric-powered motorsport series was announced in London. The ABB sponsorship “is a strong sign and proof of the attractiveness of this championship, which is still in its infancy,” Jean Todt, president of motorsport governing body FIA, explained. The four-year-old electric series is trying to grab attention in a sport dominated by the long-standing petrol-based Formula One championship. Although the cars are quieter compared to the ear-splitting, fuel-guzzling engines in F1, Formula E touts its environmentally friendly qualities and accessibility to fans. Fans can walk to watch Formula E street races in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Paris, and New York.
However, despite the fact that the manufacturers are looking toward Formula E as the right fit for their marketing and abandoning some traditional motorsport series, the numbers do not lie. Spectators at Formula E races are often low and TV audiences are significantly small. It is very clear that whilst Formula E is trying to attract a new, young audience, for the moment traditional motorsport fans simply “don’t get it” and do not enjoy the racing. The cars are slow, the circuits narrow and apart from the odd race, the action is limited on the whole. A serious problem for it to succeed as a global sport.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Formula E is banging it’s own drum whilst the car manufacturers line up for a piece of the sport; but if history tells a lesson that all motorsport fans should know, and that’s manufacturers vacate as fast as they appear.