Formula E decider draws more ‘live’ viewers in UK than F1


Formula E claim they had over 60,000 spectators attend Battersea Park for the final weekend’s racing of the inaugural season for the series. Daily tickets ranged from £8-60 for non-hospitality packages.

However, Wandsworth Council decided to make parking as difficult as possible for race goers. There was no dedicated parking offered and hundreds of pay and display parking bays adjacent to the park were made into temporary additional ‘local permit’ parking. Almost 50% of these were vacant just an hour before the final race of the season.

More importantly, with no Formula One last weekend, Formula E captured the attention of the British TV viewing public’s imagination in a way the CEO of Formula E ‘couldn’t have dreamed of’.

On Saturday, the event was aired live on ITV4 and pulled combined viewer numbers of 900,000 between the live and ITV highlights programmes.

On Sunday, the qualifying and race were broadcast on the main ITV channel. Live viewing figures show 1.2 million people watched Sam Bird win his home GP and Nelson Piquet Junior win the Formula E drivers’ title.

By comparison, Formula One when shown live only on SKY’s UK TV platform, draws around 700,000 viewers. And this is an improved number on previous years due to SKY providing some races on their SKY Sports 1 channel and not exclusively on SKY F1. Just under 4 million viewers watch European F1 races in the UK when BBC broadcast a live event.

The TV camera worked has improved vastly over the Formula E season, and the nature of the circuits and the close racing presents an exciting viewing proposition.

The switch from ITV4 to ITV appears to have boosted the number of viewers too. Free to air TV clearly works for the viewers.

With better promotion and visibility in year two, Formula E can surely only go from strength to strength with the TV viewer and in 2016, there will be the added interest of different engines on offer from different manufacturers. Currently all cars run the Renault-Spark power unit.

17 responses to “Formula E decider draws more ‘live’ viewers in UK than F1

  1. Expecting car parking, unless you have a disabled badge, for a central London race is nuts. There is plenty of decent public transport to get you there easily, cheaply and more quickly than a car.

      • But 100’s of spaces wouldn’t have catered for even a small fraction of the crowd – so if the organisers had indicated there would be parking it would have been swamped in chaos (well, even more than that area of London on a weekend – which is bad enough anyway), and I suspect there were resident only parking disruptions due to the event so maybe they made some more for displaced locals? Dunno – just do know that coming to an event in central London by car is a crazy idea.

      • @thejudge13 re parking.

        Battersea is sometimes called “South Chelsea” by the local saddo fashionistas. Local council is Conservative, and parking is a very hot topic, with the mainly yuppy locals. Average property price is north of £1M5 for a two bed flat next to the park. Info from friends in low places 😉

      • I think by advising that there was no parking it meant that the roads around remained fairly free flowing as most people used public transport.

        Had they advised that there was a small handful (100s for 30,000) would mean people would try and get in to them spaces and then blocking the streets up.

        I thought it was all handled pretty well to be honest. Got dropped in – roads nice and clear and then at the end of the night it was a walk to the station and a train ride home.

        The capital has one of the best public transport systems so makes sense to use it to full.

  2. I took the trouble to watch these two races when they were repeated on BT Sport. How thoughtful of the organisers to run them on a track incorporating a “switchback” section – which caused the electric trollies to bounce up and down in an extremely, make that “slightly”, exciting manner; a lesson here for F1 perhaps. Or perhaps not.
    I don’t know anything about the regs for this series but the cars looked, to me, identical apart from the graphics. Never mind, it was thrilling (make that “slightly interesting”) watching the batteries run down – rather in the manner of the Duracell Bunnies TV ads, but taking a bit longer. Fortunately the teams had provided a second, fully charged, car for each driver. This is completely in line with current consumer technology where batteries, which used to be interchangeable, are now soldered to the mother boards, making it necessary to throw away the device once the maximum number of recharge cycles has been reached. I believe this is called “sustainable green technology”.
    The series marks another significant development too. The progression in sound-track development. We’ve gone from the appalling scream of multi-cylinder high-revving ICEs, through dully roaring “PUs” to reach the pinnacle of motor sport audio; a sort of whirring squeal, which resembles that of many high-end kitchen appliances. I believe some people find the noise quite thrilling. It’s certainly infant-friendly, which moves the motor sport demographic in the right direction (although Bernie might question that judgement…)
    And then there are the drivers. The series has attracted some of the top stars formerly in F1 – like Karun Chandok and Bruno “my uncle was Ayrton” Senna. It has also achieved what most people would have formerly thought quite impossible: a world championship for Nelson Piquet Jr.
    Richard Branson’s very keen on the series too, so it’s obviously going to be profitable for someone, even if it’s only Branson.

    • Ignoring the fact you’ve intentionally twisted and warped things in a way that would make a Hamilfosi proud, there is one point that asks a valid question:

      Is Motorsport actually a valid name for this form of racing?

      Granted the cars are powered by an electric motor, the term is too tied in with the use of non-renewable petrochemical energy sources via an internal combustion process.

      As the intention of Forumla E is to try and push forward the development of battery and electric propulsion technology, surely a term that is not so linked with the past would be more marketable?

      • I think a name has already been trademarked,its called scalextric 😉 they did sound the same apart from the one I had which let you spin the wheels at the start

      • The principle of motion is still the same – energy used to spin a motor which in turn drives gears and the wheels. The only difference between F1 and Formula E is the means of extracting the sun’s solar energy to propel the cars forward. F1 uses fossil fuels and Formula E uses a variety of sources depending on how they charge the batteries up.

        As for the comment about batteries being soldered onto the motherboards ? Fairly easy to remove solder and recycle the battery cells (not cheap though). Elon Musk’s Tesla is leading the way on battery technology

        We are probably going to move from an always on model of power generation to one of storing energy and using it as needed. F1 is well placed to develop batteries used in harsh conditions to an optimal performance level.
        F1 uses energy recovery systems and batteries, so you can also argue that F1 is not Motorsport in the traditional sense as well. Times are changing, but the word Motorsport will likely remain in place for a long while to come.

        • To be honest, I’m quite surprised they have gearboxes. Not many electrically driven vehicles do, most use a VFD (variable frequency drive) to adjust the motor speed over a very wide range. Also, I’d have thought an electric motor would have been better suited to a CVT system if it did turn out a VFD didn’t give them enough power over the whole speed range.

          Talking about batteries soldered to motherboards obviously comes from someone who has a bit of knowledge and possibly an axe to grind. Various EU legislation means things have to be designed to be recyclable so any battery will be easily removed. The main reasons batteries can be fitted permanently now rather than needing to be replaceable is that the quality and lifespan is much improved, and power drain has been reduced. In the past batteries failed after a short time, now a decent LiPo battery can last 5-6 years easily.

          Replacing batteries also has down-sides, mainly ensuring a good connection. A piece of spring steel is never the best way to attach to a battery. Contamination and poor surface contact can give higher resistance leading to reduced battery performance. In something like an electric car where massive currents are being drawn you could well get arcing and the contacts welding shut. Having the batteries replaceable rather than swapping car would bring a whole load of challenges and would hardly look great having mechanics wheeling up a portable crane, unbolting the old pack, sliding the new one in and bolting it back in place.

          They’ll get to the point where the batteries and motors improve so they can do a whole race on one pack before much longer. Considering in the early GPs the drivers carried a mechanic I hardly think having to have two cars due to battery life is a major deal breaker…

          I’d disagree about F1 being the best place to develop batteries. The drain and recharge levels are way above what would be necessary for private cars and the size and weight of the cells is way below what public transport can accommodate. It will always help, but a purely electric series will have more relevance to road (and rail) usage.

          • I think the basic reason for Formula E using gearboxes is to do with efficiency i.e. they only have a certain amount of power and they need to manage the power curve and torque in an efficient manner but still hit top speeds, thus a gear box is used. I’m sure somebody will know the precise reasons.

            As far as road car batteries go ? I think it’s a lot easier to have the batteries and electronics as one unit. As if something goes wrong you can replace it quickly and easily i.e. battery cells might be fine but the control electronics are borked or vice versa. There are some pretty exciting developments in battery technology being worked on, but they are years away from becoming viable commercial products.
            For Formula E ? I think improving the efficiency and battery cells to last longer is the way to go. Though I’ll add that I’m surprised Honda seems a bit reluctant to draw on McLaren’s expertise in this area, given McLaren supplies the powertrain in Formula E cars.

            Well as far as road relevance and F1 goes in terms of batteries, I guess we need to keep an eye on McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari’s road cars and what technology if any transfers from F1 to road cars.

      • They are powered by electric motors, thus motorsport. The change should be made for internal combustion engines to enginesport.

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