We're less than one month away from the second season of the all-electric Formula E, and the racing series has just announced major changes to the much maligned "Fan Boost" — a voting contest that gives three drivers in each race a temporary power boost in the electric motors. But while many traditional racing fans have asked the series to scale it back (or get rid of it all together), Formula E is now expanding Fan Boost to give the fans — and the drivers — even more power.
In the first season, fans had a specific window during which they were allowed to vote, starting 12 days before each race and ending one hour before the green flag was waved. That same window will still exist in season two, but fans will also now be able to vote during the first six minutes of each race. It's a move that adds to the immediacy of Fan Boost, and it also changes up a few things about how it will work.
Because fans will still be casting votes during the race, the power boost won't be available until the drivers switch into their second car at the midway point in the action. (The batteries in Formula E only last about half the race, so drivers switch to another car during a pit stop somewhere around the halfway point.) Previously, Fan Boost winners had the ability to use it at any time during the hour-long races.
Drivers can push the cars all the way to the motor's maximum power
The series has also changed how the power boost actually works. In the first season, a driver with Fan Boost was able to increase the power in the car's motor from 150kW to 180kW for 5 seconds. (In season two, the baseline power of the cars has been bumped to 170kW.) That time limit is now gone, and winning teams will instead be given 100kJ of extra energy to use however they see fit. They could, for example, go all out and use that 100kJ to bump the power all the way to the car's max — 200kW — for a very short period, like on a straightaway. Or they could make the extra energy last longer by pushing the motor to just 180kW.
Formula E is also expanding the ways that fans will be able to vote. Fans can now use specific hashtags on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and will also still be able to use the Formula E website or app. You'll get one vote per day on each platform in order to stop fans from completely gaming the voting in favor of one particular driver, and the series has hired a real-time fan engagement company called Telescope that can identify repeat votes.
For as much guff as Fan Boost got before (and during) Formual E's debut season, its presence was pretty innocuous. If anything, it hurt some drivers more than it helped, because the extra power was tricky to use on the extremely tight street courses that the series was run on. The suite of changes that the series announced today mean that the quality of racing in Formula E's second season will be just as unpredictable as it was in its first. Here's hoping it will still be just as good.
Update September 25th, 3:23PM ET: Added information about voting frequency and the partnership with Telescope.