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Formula E: the world's fastest electric car race returns to China



Formula E, the world's first net zero all electric motor sports series, is back in China for the first time in five years, and according to Formula E's lead commentator, the importance of its return "can't be overstated".

This weekend's race was in Shanghai for the first time, with Jaguar's Mitch Evans winning the first of a doubleheader, half a decade after China's first ever Formula E race was held at Beijing's Olympic green circuits. 

The competition returns at a time when interest in the sport is booming, especially in China. Formula E's fan base hit record highs last season with 344 million viewers around the world, meaning it's now the fourth most watched motor sport. 


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It's also becoming something of a lucrative business, with sponsorship revenue reaching more than $100 million for this season, and plans have been verbally agreed to hold an all female formula E test event in November. 

"It's amazing down here, genuinely. It's one of the best races we've been to all season," Tom Brooks, the sport's lead commentator told CGTN from the track in Shanghai. "Everybody loves Formula E and especially here in Asia is where the championship began back in 2014."

There's a lot of excitement due to the sport's return to China, he adds. "I don't think it can be overstated, really, how important it is... EVs in general are a huge market now, and China has really been at the epicenter of that for the last few years. There's a huge appetite for EVs and that's represented by the audience that we've had here." 

Tom Brooks, Formula E's lead commentator, spoke to CGTN Europe. /CGTN
Tom Brooks, Formula E's lead commentator, spoke to CGTN Europe. /CGTN

Tom Brooks, Formula E's lead commentator, spoke to CGTN Europe. /CGTN

'More powerful than ever'

There's been a big shift in the sport since it was first conceived on the back of a napkin in 2014. Today, Brooks says the vehicles are now more powerful, lighter and the racing is closer than ever.

That's in part because three generations of E vehicles have passed since the sport's advent. "We're heading into what we call the Gen3 Evo," he says. "It's the same car, but with four wheel drive north of 60 in under two seconds, which is a really exciting prospect. The cars will be faster than ever and the racing should be more exciting than ever."

But it's also because the sport is gaining more interest, including from international car makers. "It can't be overstated how important Formula E has been, not only in terms of bringing international electric racing to the stage, but also in terms of what manufacturers have done," says Brooks. 

"We've had manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, currently we've got Porsche in there, Jaguar," he adds. "We're going to an all EV lineup from 2025. In fact the last internal combustion engine car rolled off the production line in the UK just the other day."

"The technology that's developed, it all trickles down to road cars and it's been hugely important for that, and for its incredible growth and development over the last ten years." 

There's also a social component to the sport's rapid development and the signals its sending. Historically, going back well over a century of conventional motor racing, the sport has been dominated by men. 

However, Formula E is hoping to move the discipline on from being a boys' club, with plans for an all womens' test event in November. 

"Females generally haven't had the same opportunities as males within a very male dominated sport," says Brooks. "It's fantastic that Formula E are looking at that and seizing the initiative and looking to try and bring female racing drivers within the single seater international ladder and bring them up to formula E." 

Formula E: the world's fastest electric car race returns to China

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