There has been a buzz about Formula E since it was announced in 2012. With races in city-centre locations, cars that make little or no noise and interaction with fans, the series was destined to drive attention on and off-track. It delivers.
Right at the top, celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Adrien Brody, Cuba Gooding Jr and Lindsay Lohan, have visited the races and enjoyed the hospitality. The most exclusive of these is a black-tie gala dinner on the Friday before each race, which is only open to a chosen few. It is hosted by the power brokers behind the series who give guests insight into the history behind Formula E.
During the race itself some of the most well-heeled guests can be found in the eMotion Club which gives access to a pit lane walk and has the best views of the track, as well as a wide range of food and drinks. Capping off the weekend, an official post-race party hosts up to 300 special guests.
Unlike the drivers in many other motorsport series, those in Formula E are a common sight at these events. One regular on the party scene is Bruno Senna, nephew of Formula 1 icon Ayrton Senna, and driver for the Mahindra Formula E team. He says that even off the track Formula E’s core values are never far away.
“In Formula E, the hospitality and events are directed at bringing people into the experience, and learning about new technologies and sustainability,” he says. It is most visible at the eVillage where sponsors’ pavilions stand next to a bar with a jumbo screen for guests to watch the on-track action. “At the events, everyone can enjoy great sport during the racing with cutting-edge technologies,” says Bruno.
Hospitality and events are directed at bringing people into the experience, and learning about new technologies and sustainability
He says his favourite gala was at Beijing because it was held in such a special place, the Imperial Temple in the Forbidden City. “The atmosphere was incredible because it was the first gala of the year, but the best post-race party was in Punta del Este, Uruguay. Unfortunately, testing the next day meant we couldn’t stay very long. The drivers are quite engaged during the race weekends, due to our very tight schedule, but we try as much as possible to show up to eMotion hospitality and interact with fans during the autograph sessions or pit lane visiting times,” he says.
Another popular personality who travels with the series and follows its social scene closely is Kelly Piquet, daughter of three-times F1 champion Nelson Piquet and sister of Formula E championship leader Nelson Piquet Jr. This sporting heritage made the Long Beach ePrix her most memorable moment in Formula E so far. “My brother had won his first Formula E race and coincidentally, 35 years before, almost to the day, my father had his first Formula 1 victory,” says Kelly.
“In my opinion, Formula E has a different approach to entertainment than other series. It is interactive and grabs the attention of motorsport fans. The sport also thinks it highly important that the public and guests get to meet drivers over the weekend, whether that be through autograph sessions or lunch at the eMotion lounge.
“Special guests are also invited to the gala, as well as mingling with drivers on race day by having garage tours and hot laps in the sport’s safety car. For non-racing fans, there are a lot of other things to see at the track. There is admission to the eVillage, which has different activities, sponsors’ booths and our very own DJ, known as the sport’s ‘EJ’.”
Like Bruno, Kelly says her favourite after party was at Punta del Este. “We were at a beautiful house and everyone was dressed in white. The music was unbelievable and everyone was just in such a partying mood,” she says. It shows that whether on track or off, the atmosphere at a Formula E race really can be electric.