With the US’s first Formula E race just around the corner, Beyond the Flag’s Christopher Greenough, caught up with the new motorsport’s CEO, Alejandro Agag.
C.G. – From concept to reality, the Formula E Championship has been a long road traveled. We are now midway through the inaugural Formula E season, it’s no longer a dream, and the future looks bright for this new type of motorsport. Having had the time now to think on what direction Formula E may be headed in, what can the fans look forward to in the seasons to come, and what aspects of the sport, if any, would you like to see change?
A.A. – We’re really pleased by what we and the FIA have achieved so far with Formula E but there’s so much more to come. By far the biggest change will be the introduction of manufacturers from season two. This was always our intention from the start, to become an ‘open championship’ and to use competing manufacturers to help accelerate electric vehicle technology. We’re very excited by this prospect with an expected six to eight major manufacturers expected to join. Furthermore, our aim is to increase the calendar by two to three races each season showcasing Formula E and electric cars in more cities, and to more fans, around the world.
C.G. – As Formula E dictates that all teams use the Spark-Renault, the sport allows pure driver talent to be showcased, something of a rarity within the top levels of motorsport. Do you think that this level playing field attracts drivers to Formula E? And if so, is it possible that this may cause the same chassis rule to remain a long term fixture in the sport?
A.A. – Speaking to the Formula E drivers – the likes of Senna, Prost, Di Grassi and Trulli – this is certainly one of the factors but more so for the first season. I think the appeal also comes from being part of something completely new, coupled with competing on exciting city-centre circuits where the racing is close and there’s very little room for error.
In terms of technical changes, we certainly want teams to keep the same chassis as that’s not the technological direction we want them to focus on. Instead, we want teams to concentrate on developing new powertrains and batteries as this is what is going to benefit everyday electric cars users the most.
C.G. – The Formula E drivers as a collective hold an impressive resume. The current grid boasts drivers who have raced in GP2, the WEC, Formula 1, IndyCar, and the World Rally Championship. What are the chances that we will see more drivers from NASCAR crossing over to Formula E?
A.A. – Well, of course, driver choice comes down to the individual teams, but yes we hope Formula E will appeal to all drivers in all disciplines. I think part of the reason for that is that Formula E sits in its own standalone series rather than being a feeder series so it has such a wide appeal to so many, top international stars. For me, the drivers are what make a series and we’re very proud of our line-up and the wealth of experience and talent.
C.G. – With two rounds set to be staged in the United States, and just as many of its teams calling the country home, the idea of more drivers from America’s premier racing series must be an attractive idea to the Formula E organizers?
A.A. – Yes for sure, the US remains a key market for Formula E but not just from a driver and team perspective but also from a technological, commercial and automotive viewpoint. It’s part of the reason why we have two races in the US. The country’s burgeoning electric vehicle market is very impressive and we hope after our races in Miami, on March 14, and Long Beach, on April 4, that this interest will continue to grow in all these areas.
C.G. – Women are known to be highly underrepresented in motorsports, most notably in Formula 1. Yet Formula E, in its first season no less, has two women on the grid. Though all race seat decisions are ultimately decided by the teams themselves, does it make you proud to be part of a sport that is solidly promoting equal opportunity?
A.A. – Yes very much so and this element is very important to us. We want Formula E to appeal to a new generation of motorsport fans, both male and female, and to do this you need to show diversity. To have had events this year where 10% of the grid are female is a significant step to showing this and to appealing to a wider audience.
C.G. – Is the adoption of hybrid technology by Formula 1 a promising sign to Formula E? And if electric powered engines are the next step in the evolution of the racing car, could we possibly see a merger of Formula E and Formula 1 in the distant future?
A.A. – For sure, the recent engine changes in Formula 1 are a significant step forward for developing cleaner mobility but Formula E and Formula 1 are, and for the foreseeable future, remain very different. Formula E is focused on developing fully-electric technology rather than hybrids as that’s where we believe the future of the motor industry lies.