London’s calling as the FIA Formula E championship returns to the UK
As the UK capital prepares to host the championship race of the all-electric Formula E, we get on the track with some of this year’s season’s most exciting characters
While another season of Formula One races on with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen sure to claim yet another title, another intense and far more unpredictable battle is nearing its close here in the UK capital. On 29-30 July, the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship will breeze into London’s east end to crown another champion.
Now in its ninth season, Formula E has brought all-electric racing to city streets around the world since its inception in 2014. With radical new cars this year, the angular Gen3 car is the fastest, lightest and most powerful iteration of the all-electric racer to date – and with all 11 teams able to tweak elements of the car’s formula, as in previous years, the racing remains tight and competitive. Racing all over the world, from Mexico and the Middle East to Jakarta, Cape Town, Monaco and everywhere in between, the latest season of Formula E hits up new cities as well as old favourites.
But one city remains particularly close to Formula E’s heart. Home to the Championship’s first final in 2015, and then again in 2016 – where both were held in Battersea Park – London has always been a firm favourite for the series. After a five-year hiatus, racing returned to ExCel London in 2021, marking a new chapter for Formula E championship as it staged the world’s very first indoor-outdoor race with a track that weaved its way through the convention centre and the roads around it.
Now given the honour of hosting the championship finale once again, London’s calling as all 22 drivers prepare to jostle for position, vying for a place on the podium and, for a few hopeful drivers, the ultimate prize – the championship crown – is within touching distance. Ahead of the grand finale, we hear from the voices behind the championship.
JAMES BARCLAY | TEAM PRINCIPAL OF JAGUAR TCR RACING
Since Jaguar marked its triumphant comeback to motorsport with an entry into Formula E in 2016, the great British team has clawed its way up the Teams Championship standings from 10th in its debut season to a best-placed finish of second in 2021.
“In terms of where the Championship is this year, you can have an incredibly strong car, drivers and strategy but, if you don’t put it together, it’s difficult to be successful this season as the competition is so close,” says long-standing Jaguar Team Principal James Barclay. “This year is a complete reset. You can’t take anything you’ve done previously into account. We’re all here to win championships. It’s my waking thought every morning and it’s absolutely why we’re here – we’re on that journey but we’re not at the destination.”
As one of the best-known British teams on the grid, the squad have a lot riding on them for the final in London. Aside from the fact that frontman Mitch Evans and his British teammate Sam Bird regularly battle it out for podiums, the team will feel the full weight of Jaguar’s employees, friends and family behind them as they take on the twists, turns, ups and downs of the ExCel centre.
“Having a race in London as a British team is amazing,” says James. “London is an iconic city and the venue is a challenging one, but for us, racing in the UK and being on the podium would be great. The cars will be fast, we’ll be getting up to some high speeds, so it’s going to be one that requires full focus.” »
ALESSANDRA CILIBERTI | FORMULA E TECHNICAL MANAGER, FIA
Coming into full focus this year was the FIA’s Alessandra Ciliberti who took on the mammoth task of reinventing the Formula E car alongside a host of technical partners and manufacturers.
“We wanted the car to keep pushing the boundaries of innovation, to keep being disruptive and, at the same time, to be purposely built for street racing – so it needed to be lighter, smaller, more powerful and more agile,” says Alessandra.
Sporting a front and rear powertrain for the first time ever on a formula car, the Gen3 can touch 200mph but is also the most efficient Formula E car yet, with more than 40% of the energy used within a race produced by regenerative braking.
“It’s been particularly enriching to work on the project from scratch with all the stakeholders and seeing all the cars lining up on the grid in Mexico for the first race of the season was quite emotional. I’m sure it will be a similar feeling seeing them finish in London,” says Alessandra.
Already working on what the future Formula E car will be, she’s focused on pushing the existing car to the limit, exploring the possibility for four-wheel drive in some scenarios, all while working on the initial design of the Gen4 car. “The cars will keep being both disruptive and innovative,” she assures.
JAKE DENNIS | DRIVER, AVALANCHE ANDRETTI
Best known as the man who took the first win of the Gen3 era, British Avalanche Andretti driver Jake Dennis knows a thing or two about electric street racing. Despite only starting his Formula E career in 2021, Dennis has gone on to clinch both podiums and wins in the series, most notably winning two of the four home races he’s been a part of.
“It was one of the hardest races I’ve ever done,” said the British driver, on top of the podium last time out in London “I’ve never experienced anything like it.”
While Dennis has proved he can navigate his way around the ExCel’s particularly tricky indoor-outdoor track with aplomb, the Brit will be hoping for a similar spell of good luck when it comes to the final this time around.
With a solid points total behind him going into London, Dennis is one of the series’ fastest-rising talents. Now with a chance to take the championship crown in the capital, he could be well on his way to motorsport stardom.