A weekend at Formula E that I'll never forget

It's a hard life, but someone's gotta do it.

Formula E in Misano
(Image credit: Future)

Join me dear readers for a tale of woe as I, a humble journalist from England am sent to the Italian coast for work and then forced to cover the most exciting form of motorsport in the world right now - twice!

To make matters worse I was given incredible access to drivers, the track and the cars and got to spend some time eating beautiful food in a beautiful part of the world. 

Ok, I'll stop that now. Seriously though, as someone who would have defined myself as an  F1 fan first and a motorsport fan second, I'm having an existential crisis. I've been to both Formula One and Formula E before (at Silverstone and the ExCel Centre in London), but that was over two years ago, and now in its tenth season, it's safe to say the series hasn't stood still. 

For a start, the cars are faster (and set to get even faster). The Gen3 Formula E car puts even the best EVs to shame with its speed and efficiency. With a top speed of 200 Mph, 350 Kilowatts of power and light weight, they are a mighty bit of kit. They don't have the same guttural noise of an internal combustion engine, but it's lovely not to leave the circuit with a headache. 

Of course, there's an important message at the heart of Formula E, but regardless of that, it offers some of the best racing anywhere. Its more famous cousin Formula One is great but for the last decade, it has been dominated by two men. Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. Just this season, the first six races in Formula E have produced six different winners. I love that kind of unpredictability, and so too do the drivers.  

Formula E in Misano

(Image credit: Future)

The qualifying format is unique too and I genuinely prefer it to Formula One's three-session setup. It starts with all of the cars being divided into two groups of ten. Each group is then given ten minutes to set the fastest lap time, with the four fastest going through the duels stage. This is where it gets particularly crispy. Drivers compete one-on-one in a knockout-style mini-tournament of one-lap shootouts. The two are on track at the same time (separated by just a few seconds) with split times for each sector ramping up the tension. With grid position and three championship points for the winner, there's a lot on the line. 

Not that qualifying was everything at Misano. In the first race of the 'double-header' weekend, Andretti star Jake Dennis, who started 17th, ended up finishing 2nd while fellow Brit Dan Ticktum started 14th and came 4th in one of the most unfancied cars on the grid. That's further evidence of the series' trademark unpredictability. 

Speaking of the drivers, the stars have none of the airs and graces of other sports. At Misano the team garages overlook the fan park, there are regular autograph sessions and pit lane walks and speaking to a handful I found them all very unassuming (but assured) until they stepped into the car and became monsters. 

Races on the Formula E calendar are typically in the heart of city centres like Tokyo and Monaco, but Misano is something of a departure for the series. It's a dedicated permanent circuit, with some long straights and high-speed corners. After going on a hot lap in a Maserati Gran Turismo at stupid speed, I can confirm that. 

As a result, it produced races full of overtakes as drivers tried to manage energy and get a prime position in the pack, ready to pounce for a frantic sprint finish. In Formula E there are no mandatory pitstops, so you don't get someone on a different strategy or older tyres just letting a faster car through, pretty much every battle is for position and hard fought. 

Interviewing the drivers and walking the grid at a major motorsport championship is something I never thought I'd get to do, and now it's something I'll never forget. But even without such access, Formula E should be top of the priority list for motorsport fans everywhere. 

Andy Sansom
Staff Writer

Andy is T3's Tech Staff Writer, covering all things technology, including his biggest passions such as gaming, AI, phones, and basically anything cool and expensive he can get his hands on. If he had to save one possession from a fire it would be his PlayStation 5. He previously worked for Tom’s Guide - where he got paid to play with ChatGPT every day. When it comes to streaming, Andy will have his headphones glued in whilst watching something that will make him laugh. He studied Creative Writing at university, but also enjoys supporting his favourite football team (Liverpool), watching F1, teaching himself guitar, and spending time with his dog.