Viewers of Formula E tune in for a litany of reasons—they’re avid fans of motorsports, they follow a favorite driver or they want to see what new technology is being showcased by iconic brands such as Renault, Audi, or Jaguar. What they might not know, at least initially, is that there’s a message behind it all.
While it isn’t a subliminal or secret message by any means, Formula E is more than just a racing series. The world’s first fully electric single-seater street racing series is trying to make the Earth a better place through sport.
The series uses electric cars and more environmentally friendly technologies in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, while bringing awareness to global threats, including climate change and global warming.
“We’re more than just a racing car championship,” TECHEETAH driver Jean-Eric Vergne said. “We’re driving the future.”
Formula E has grown exponentially since being founded in 2014 by Alejandro Agag. The series, which began with 11 races in 10 cities in season one, has expanded into cities including New York, Zurich, and Rome. Formula E has also drawn the attention of major manufacturers and brands like Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche. Jaguar, which joined the series in 2016, fielded its first racing team since leaving Formula 1 after the 2004 season. Mercedes-Benz and Porsche will leave DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) and Le Mans, respectively, joining Formula E for season six in 2019/20.
The series is what Formula 1 used to be about 20 years ago. Manufacturers and brands would use F1 as a means to trial and showcase new technologies, but the emphasis on environmentally friendly tech has paved the way for Formula E to now be that platform.
“Most people thought it would grow for two or three years then the bubble would explode, but it’s not a bubble,” said Vergne, who switched from Formula 1 to Formula E for the 2014/15 season. “To me it’s the future of motorsports. It’s a big statement when a manufacturer joins the championship.”
Not only are Formula E drivers steering their cars in and around cities during a given race, but they are also helping drive the world toward a greener and better future.
Vergne, 27, is one of the more active drivers, being named Formula E’s first sustainability ambassador in May 2017. The Frenchman was also featured in a video racing a cheetah in South Africa in an effort to raise awareness for endangered species affected by climate change.
Vergne understands the platform he has as a professional athlete and how to use it effectively. Being a pro athlete or celebrity comes with an endless list of perks and responsibilities, but using that influence for positive change—like actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau to shine light on the Global Goals World Cup, soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo for donating to cancer research and other charities, or former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s work highlighting social injustices in the United States—is necessary for a better tomorrow.
“We’re just trying to leave a better place for the next generations because if we carry on like this, this planet will not be possible to live on in the future,” Vergne said.