How Valencia E-Prix farce gave Formula E an image problem
Formula E was under the microscope at Valencia, on its first visit to a permanent circuit. But after a mere nine drivers were left classified following Saturday's Valencia E-Prix, the electric championship once more faced criticism after rising energy deductions and miscalculations produced a farcical affair.
Countdown dictionary corner resident Susie Dent has an entertaining habit of capturing the mood of the moment when she tweets her ‘Word of the Day’. Amid news of the short-lived plans for the breakaway European Super League, her pick was “ingordigiousness: extreme greed; an insatiable desire for wealth at any cost”. Lexicographer Dent didn’t make reference to the final lap of the Valencia E-Prix on Saturday, but she didn’t have to. For the word many were tying to the inaugural Formula E race in Spain could be derived from “farce”. It wasn’t a good look for the series in its first season under FIA World Championship status.
Holes have been exposed in the FIA regulations every time the electric paddock has met in 2021. The campaign kicked off in Saudi Arabia with a clutch of blameless drivers having their qualifying lap times deleted by a yellow flag incident up the road, only to start the race from grid slots behind the guilty party. In Rome, there were lobbying efforts to move the position of the staggered start line away from the exit of a blind bend after Oliver Turvey rounded said unsighted corner and clattered into stationary cars awaiting a practice launch. Events at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo will take some beating. Just nine of the 24 drivers were classified after the final of five safety car periods led to one last slash in energy usage limits.
It's commonly upheld as the most straightforward method of racking up titles. But, due to the unique qualifying format used in Formula E, a consistent approach can actively work against a driver and make their life harder in races. So with four races to go, is now the time to ditch the tried-and-tested approach for a win-or-bust mentality?
After crashing in practice during the opening session at the New York City E-Prix, Sam Bird immediately had a recovery job on his hands. But the Jaguar driver rose through the order and secured victory in the second race - and with it, the championship lead. Here's how an Englishman in New York became top of the heap.
Formula E has become famed for its unpredictability, which can yield exciting races - but it can be argued that it robs the all-electric championship of a clear narrative and doesn't adequately reward the best drivers. The series wants to change that, and renew its philosophy ahead of the introduction of its next-generation car
With the usual Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez venue unavailable to Formula E, it visited the little Puebla circuit to keep its foot in the door in Mexico. A near-winner two years ago, Pascal Wehrlein looked in swaggering form throughout the weekend - but a breathless final encounter helped put Edoardo Mortara in the driving seat.
In an eventful Formula E season, punctuated by rain and energy-conservation controversy, the 12 teams contesting the championship have endured many challenges in the opening seven races. Here's how they've got on across the first half of the season.
OPINION: It was no surprise to anybody that the laptimes achieved by Formula E cars on the full Monaco circuit were much slower than Formula 1. But perhaps the more relevant comparison was in the racing spectacle, where FE delivered in spades.
Formula E faced much criticism in the wake of its maligned Valencia event. In need of a turnaround, the series' first use of Monaco's iconic Formula 1 layout provided it with the injection of thrills required to clear the fog that had enveloped the paddock.
FIA president Jean Todt wanted more Formula E coverage in the media, and got his wish when the opening Valencia E-Prix proved farcical. Despite attempts to spin the race as teams failing to get their sums right, Formula E and its governing body cannot escape blame - especially when trying to get teams to commit long-term.
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