Formula 1 racing fans feel, when hearing about fuel economy limits and other “greening” regulations, like the sport is being gutted. In the face of Formula E racing, that’s exactly what this dinosaur of a sport needs.
Let’s face it, we love to push the limits on everything, and we make it bigger, faster, more powerful, louder, or whatever “-er” you can think of. If we weren’t racing cars in Formula 1, we’d be, and still are, racing thoroughbreds, greyhounds, airplanes, balloons. The problem with Formula 1 racing, as with any other automobile racing, such as the Dakar Rally, monster trucks, and NASCAR, to name a few, is the obscene amount of fuel consumed and emissions generated. Where street-legal cars are required to carry emissions-control equipment and meet certain fuel economy standards, race cars have so such limitations. Formula E could change this old dinosaur of a sport, but only if they can make it popular with the next generation of race fans.
Making electric vehicle racing popular and fun for the viewer isn’t as difficult as it seems. Without the roaring internal combustion engines and open exhaust systems, Formula E racers sound like a cross between a jet engine and a TRON light racer, according to Alex Tai, Virgin Formula E team head, and that’s just part of the appeal to the younger fanbase, who likely know more about xBox 360 or Need For Speed: World than how much power the typical Formula 1 racer is equipped with. At the same time, the new fanbase is far more interested in environmental impact, fuel economy, emissions, and climate change, and they choose their entertainment differently than their parents did.
It’s a controversial change, moving from Formula 1 to Formula E electric vehicle racing, but a necessary one. One engaging part of the Formula E racing series, which I think is pretty cool is the “fan boost,” based on social media votes, another important modern tool. The three racers with the most votes get a 2.5-second 50% power boost, unlocking more power from their electric motors. While this wouldn’t take a last-place racer to the podium, it could mean the difference between silver and gold medals. Perhaps most importantly, for the sport of Formula E, it engages the fans, and could eventually change the face of automobile racing as we know it, for a cleaner one.
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