Formula E, the first ever all-electric global racing series, makes its debut this weekend in Beijing. The brand new championship is an attempt to replace combustion engine racing with a quieter and more environmentally-friendly take on auto racing's most difficult discipline: Formula 1.
Run by the same governing body as F1 — the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, or FIA — Formula E will feature 20 drivers competing on the streets of ten different cities around the world, including iconic racing destinations like Monaco and Long Beach. The pedigree of the the competitors is also stout, as more than half of the drivers have F1 experience, while the rest come from other top-tier motorsport backgrounds like IndyCar, rally car racing, and even NASCAR.
The series features drivers from F1, IndyCar, NASCAR and more
Formula E aims to be different not only because of its focus on the proliferation of electric vehicles, but also with its efforts to attract a younger, new-to-racing fan base. This starts with the already-maligned "FanBoost," an interactive feature that allows fans to vote for their favorite drivers before each race. The top three vote-getting drivers receiving a five-second "boost" that can be used at any time during the race (the word boost is a bit of a misnomer, as every car will run each race with restricted power, so the winners are really rewarded with a brief ability to race their car closer to full power). The series also hopes to reach new fans by involving live music and DJs (or "EJs," as they’re calling them) on-site at each event, something made possible because the cars are markedly quieter than any other type of racing.
The first race will take place on a road course that surrounds China's "Bird's Nest" stadium (built for the 2008 Olympics), and airs live on Fox Sports 1 at 3:30AM EDT on Saturday morning with a rebroadcast at 1:00PM EDT on Sunday.
Correction: The race is Saturday at 3:30AM ET, not Sunday. The article has been updated.