With all the talk of Formula E eclipsing Formula 1 as the premier motorsport racing series in five years, the press were keen to ask the drivers if they now have interest in the series. The short answer? Hell no!
Jenson Button said:
“I watched because of the drivers,” said Button. “I think they have 13 ex-F1 drivers and that’s what makes the category exciting.
“There is a great place for electric racing, if that is what you want to call it, but it is not something that interests me. Motorsport is motorsport for me. I love the sound, the smell and the speed – and that’s what F1 is all about.”
Kimi Raikkonen said:
[quote_box_center]”I saw the race and I’m not so interested in racing them,” added the Finn. “They’ve done well to go to the places they go to and it’s nice for the people but in might view they are pretty slow. It’s a nice concept and right now they are getting good racing out of it but it doesn’t excite me.”[/quote_box_center]
For me, the biggest thing Formula E has going for it is its social media campaign and brand marketing efforts. You can’t shake a stick without hitting a post or tweet from Formula E. The paid tweets, re-tweets and posts can get annoying as they near spam levels.
I spoke with a well-known journo about the season finale at Battersea Park and while Formula E said they would have 60,000 attendees over the weekend, that may be close as my source pegged the race-day attendance at 20,000. The series says that 1.2 million people watched the race on ITV.
That’s really good for a new series and a sign their social media efforts do help but if you consider Formula 1’s viewership at 500 million per year, that’s roughly 25 million per race. Formula E has a ways to go yet.
Still, the series does have several things going for it such as inexpensive tickets, lower race sanctioning fees, more options for more locations and no sound as to appeal to inner-city tracks etc. There is a lot to be interested in and I have always been a supporter that this is where the FIA should spend its time developing electric power units, not in F1. I echo Button’s sentiment and feel F1’s hybrid is just confusing the two series.
While current drivers may not be interested, the reality is that past drivers are. The Formula E grid is chockablock with former F1 drivers and that’s part of its appeal. Perhaps men like Button and Raikkonen aren’t interested but surely some are. Racing in Formula E has to be better than racing your couch (sofa).
Hat Tip: Sky Sports F1