Formula E makes its annual return to Red Hook this weekend for the New York City ePrix. Ars sadly won’t be on hand for the races, which is a shame as it will be my last chance to see the Gen2 electric race car in action. I will have to make every effort to be there in 2023, however.
Next year will see significant changes for the all-electric racing series, including a much more powerful, much faster racing car and changes to some rules to make the races interesting. I can’t guarantee it, but I think there’s a good chance we won’t see the return of Fan Boost, which will make some corners of the Internet happy.
What’s clear is that the series remains unafraid of thinking differently, and it’s helpful to remember that we’re talking about a sport that’s still only in its eighth season. Jamie Reigle took over as Formula E’s CEO in 2019, and last week I spoke to him about how the series has progressed and what we should look forward to in the next few years.
“Candidly, I think it was an element where we were probably taking things for granted. You know, the world goes electric and therefore, Formula E inherits the world,” Reigle told me. “You know, we have an awesome proposition and a great following wind, but that doesn’t preordain us to success from a sport perspective. And I think that’s something that we spent a lot of time over the last couple of years is saying, ‘Okay, well, what would it take for us to be what we call a tier one sport?'”
Many of the pieces are arguably there already. The sport is contested by some of the best racing drivers in the world. It races against backdrops like the Manhattan skyline, Monaco’s harbor, or Rome’s EUR neighborhood. It has attracted manufacturers like Porsche, with McLaren and Maserati set to join next year.
“But you have to be able to stitch all that together into a coherent narrative to be a really successful sport,” Reigle said.
Every racing series involves some blend of sporting competition, technology development, and entertainment, with more or less emphasis on one of those pillars depending on the series. (For example, F1 and Le Mans offer much more road-relevant technology transfer than NASCAR, which arguably places a higher premium on entertainment than either of those two.)
Additionally, Reigle pointed out that the series also has its mission to accelerate change toward an electric future. “So the sport, the tech, the show, and the purpose—we’ve had to improve all of those. And so now as we go into Gen3, I feel like we’ve got the foundational elements in place to, you know, hopefully be able to punch through and start to fulfill that promise,” he said.