As we prepare for the 10th season of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, let’s take a trip down memory lane and see how this magical electric racing series came about, as well as highlights from the last 10 incredible years.
From its humble beginnings on a napkin, to earning FIA World Championship status, there are lots of wonderful moments to reflect on.
How Formula E was founded
The idea for an all-electric street racing series started out as nothing more than a collection of notes on a napkin. The story goes that former FIA President Jean Todt and Formula E Founder Alejandro Agag met on the evening of March 3, 2011, where they wrote down a few words on what would eventually become the world's first all-electric international single-seater championship.
Formula E wanted to race through the streets of the most iconic cities in the world - with a grid full of the best racing drivers and teams around - to show just what sustainable mobility was capable of. As well as great racing, driving electric vehicles helped on the path to a better and cleaner future.
In just three years, Formula E made it from concept to reality - through prototypes, innovative EV technology for the race track and on to GEN1. It was time we went green.
Season 1: 2014/15
Formula E made its debut in the grounds of the Olympic Park in Beijing in 2014. The race was filled with drama from start to finish, and showed the world that electric racing can not only be better for the environment but it doesn’t have to limit the actual racing.
Ten teams made up the grid, with the likes of Mahindra, Renault, Audi Sport and Andretti all wanting to be a part of the championship from the start. The inaugural season raced in some brilliant locations, taking electric racing to the heart of Monaco, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Moscow and Miami to name just a few destinations.
Nelson Piquet Jr made history when he became the first Formula E champion after an intense season. He beat rival Sebastien Buemi to the crown by just a single point, with the Brazilian celebrating with his NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team at the finale in London.
Season 2: 2015/16
Already wanting to get bigger and better, Formula E welcomed seven new manufacturers for the second season. Regulations were opened up to allow teams to design their own motors, inverters, gearboxes and rear suspension, with power also bumped to 170kW.
Ten races made up the calendar in nine different cities, and for a consecutive year there was a nail-biting championship battle. This time it was Buemi and Lucas di Grassi, with both drivers hunting down their first Formula E title.
Both drivers won three races respectively over the season, taking things down to another finale in London’s Battersea Park. As fans around the world held their breath, the all-electric championship had one of its most surreal moments when both championship contenders crashed on the first lap. Buemi and di Grassi managed to limp back to the pits, with the title now being decided by the important point for fastest lap.
The point went to Buemi, who won the Drivers’ title with his team Renault e.Dams finishing the Teams’ Standing on top for another year.
Season 3: 2016/17
This season brought with it lots of change. The calendar got a huge shake up with trips to Hong Kong, a first visit to Africa thanks to Marrakech and the return of Monaco. However, one of the biggest headlines was the addition of a double-header in New York City – the first time a motor race had been held in the Big Apple since 1896.
The GEN1 cars also had a bit of a tweak, with a new nose shape and front wing being added. Jaguar also joined in on the Formula E adventure, with the historic British manufacturer ending the 12 year wait to get back into motorsport. Audi also became a factory team, and US racing giants Andretti entered into a technical partnership with BMW laying the groundwork for the German marque’s impending entry in Season 5.
From a championship perspective, Lucas di Grassi finally got his hands on the championship trophy - the most dominant win from a driver so far, winning by 24 points in the Montreal double-header. Buemi finished in second, with Mahindra Racing rookie Felix Rosenqvist ending his first campaign in third.
Season 4: 2017/18
Season 4 welcomed ABB as the title partner of Formula E, and nine manufacturers were now on board, including BMW, Jaguar, NIO, Audi, DS and Mahindra, proving Formula E was the place to be for global car manufacturers to test and develop road-relevant technologies.
Jean-Eric Vergne became the fourth different Drivers’ Champion in the first four seasons. The Frenchman drove his TECHEETAH to the top spot, finishing 54 points ahead of the second placed di Grassi. The Audi Sport driver, and teammate Daniel Abt, did help the German team secure the Teams’ Championship, though.
Formula E continued to make history, like racing in Zurich. It was the first Swiss circuit race since the 1954 Swiss Grand Prix, and pulled in a crowd of around 150,000 people. In the same year, the futuristic looking GEN2 car was revealed to the world at the Geneva International Motor Show, as Formula E got ready to say goodbye to the Spark-Renault SRT 01E GEN1 car.
Season 5: 2018/19
The start of a new era for the all-electric street racing series: GEN2 was here. Car swaps were a thing of the past, and drivers had more power thanks to a new lightweight battery that was pumped out 250kW (335bhp) for a top speed of 280 km/h (174mph). Formula E reinvented racing again with ATTACK MODE to bring a new tactical element to the races.
Several big names joined the grid, with the likes of Formula 1 legend Felipe Massa at Venturi Racing, Belgian fan-favourite Stoffel Vandoorne in the new HWA Racelab squad and Pascal Wehrlein at Mahindra Racing. There were also team name changes, as Nissan and BMW both became manufacturers in the electric series. New destinations like Diriyah, Sanya and Bern showed that this was the place to be.
Unpredictability reigned supreme for another season of unforgettable racing, as Jean-Eric Vergne became the first two-time champion and DS TECHEETAH stood proud at the top of the Teams’ Championship standings.
Season 6: 2019/20
Everything pointed to a brilliant year for Formula E. Porsche was a new entry on the grid, with the Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team also bringing their name to the championship. All four German giants (Audi, BMW, Porsche and Mercedes) were ready to go head-to-head on-track, a true treat for motorsport fans.
Things got off to a fantastic start, with entertaining races in Diriyah, Santiago, Mexico City and Marrakesh, before the world was plunged into uncertainty and lockdown following the coronavirus pandemic. Racing was on hiatus. There was still hope, though, with the Formula E community banding together during this trying period with Esports, charitable activities in support of UNICEF and more.
When it was safe to do so, Formula E got racing again – hosting six races in nine days at the Berlin Tempelhof Airport venue. It was here that Antonio Felix da Costa clinched his first Drivers’ Championship.
Season 7: 2020/21
After six seasons of racing on the streets of the world's best cities, Formula E gained World Championship status. This move was granted by the FIA - motorsport's governing body in December 2019. As a result, a talented grid of 12 teams, including 10 manufacturer outfits, and 24 of the best drivers from around the globe fought it out to be the first Formula E World Champion.
Diriyah made history as the championship’s first night race, with new locations for E-Prix including Valencia, Spain and Puebla in Mexico. After a long wait, all-electric racing returned to London, this time located in the ExCel Exhibition Centre on a unique half indoor-outdoor circuit.
In the end, only one could become champion and that honour was handed to Nyck de Vries. The Dutchman, and his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, also helped Mercedes in sealing the Teams’ Championship for the first time in their Formula E history.
Season 8: 2021/22
As part of the championship always seeking to grow, Season 8 brought with it lots of changes. Qualifying got a big shake up, with a new never-before-seen qualifying format introduced for race day. There were the usual group stages, but instead of leading to Super Pole, they now fed into one-on-one duels. A one-shot lap for the drivers to battle for the Julius Baer Pole Position.
The championship also hit its 100th race at the final race of the season in Seoul, South Korea. Jakarta in Indonesia also held its first event, as the championship said a fond farewell to its beloved GEN2 era. Stoffel Vandoorne and Mercedes also finished the season as champions, a second consecutive year for the German team but a first for the Belgian driver.
Season 9: 2022/23
GEN3 arrived – the most technologically-advanced Formula E car yet. The third generation of car has two powertrains, and is the most efficient formula racing car ever with more than 40% of the energy used within a race produced by regenerative braking. It is also the fastest Formula E car yet with a top speed over 322 kph / 200 mph.
Once again the championship broke new ground, racing on four new circuits in three new countries. A trio of back-to-back races in India, South Africa and Brazil were a season highlight, having never raced there before. Portland also saw a return of racing to the United States of America.
Another close battle unfolded for the title, but it was Briton’s Jake Dennis who left as World Champion. The Andretti driver locked in 11 podiums across the 16 rounds of the calendar to set a new record. Envision Racing also secured the Teams’ Championship for the first time in their history.
Season 10: 2023/24
After 10 years, we’re here at Season 10, and there’s so much to look forward to. New races in Tokyo, Shanghai and Misano are just some of the highlights, as a huge percentage of the field have swapped teams for the new year. It has all the ingredients for the best season yet – make sure you’re along for the ride.
How to watch Formula E's first race of Season 10 in Mexico City this weekend, 13 January
With the GEN3 era of Formula E heading into a second campaign, after what was a super close-run first outing in 2022/23, all the signs are pointing towards Season 10 stepping things up a level further.
A record 17-race calendar, with a maiden trip to Japan and a long-awaited return to China, means there'll be more silverware to fight over than there's ever been in a single season. Whoever hits the top in 2023/24 will have earned it and after a typically fraught, ultra-competitive test in Valencia, half the grid will have their eyes on the prize.
The season-opener once again takes place in Mexico City at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on 13 January.
Some 40,000 spectators are expected to fill the grandstands at the famed Foro Sol to watch a grid of 22 world class drivers, representing the biggest racing and automotive names, compete for FIA World Championship honours.