What’s the difference between F1 v Formula E?

F1 versus Formula E, it's a debate which has polarised the motorsport world but is there even an argument to be made between two very different championships?

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Comparing a motorsport championship that’s 72 years old and a series which has just had its 100th race isn’t fair, right? It’s something people have been doing since Formula E was born in 2014, putting it up against the widely accepted pinnacle of motorsport that is Formula 1.

The cars and technical regulations are completely different, the racing, the format, the majority of the tracks, pretty much everything in Formula E is a contrast to F1.

“I don’t think we should ever compare ourselves to F1,” Andretti team principal Roger Griffiths exclusively told Total-Motorsport.com.

“We are a very, very different type of championship with the power train first and foremost, the style of racing we have, that we try and do everything in one day. So it’s a very different style of racing.

“I think in some areas we actually lead F1 in sustainability and the environmental aspects of the championship, which is absolutely critical. I think Formula E just needs to just keep evolving in that direction.”

Jake Dennis (GBR), Avalanche Andretti, BMW iFE.21 leads

Sam Bird is the second most experienced driver in the championship, only behind Lucas di Grassi who has competed in every race, and although he says it’s still early days, he did bring up F1 when asked about the growth of Formula E.

“I think with the introduction of Gen3 it [Formula E] will kick on again,” said Bird.

“Every every four years we create a new car and I think that this is a welcome change.

F1 has thrived on Drive To Survive. Without that I think the rate of growth of Formula E would have continued quite considerably.

“The Netflix show has really changed everybody’s perception of F1. So we have got a bit of, not catching up to do, because it’s not a competition, but I think that we, certainly as a series, need to push on and Gen3 should help us.”

F1 drivers vs Formula E drivers

If there’s one area where you can compare Formula E and F1, it’s the driver line-up.

Although many of the drivers in Formula E are ex-F1 drivers, there are no pay drivers in the series.

Just because drivers such as Jean-Eric Vergne, Sebastien Buemi and Stoffel Vandoorne struggled in F1, it doesn’t make them bad drivers, as Mitch Evans explains.

“There is this perception that the guys in F1 are the best in the world,” explained Evans. “But I think on average, if you took everyone, I’d say Formula E is stronger. There have been a few examples now of guys that have come in [from F1] and struggled a bit initially.

“You see guys like Antonio Giovinazzi and he’s found it really, really tough. In the first race we almost lapped him.

Mitch Evans of Jaguar celebrates after winning the 2024 Monaco E-Prix | Formula E
Mitch Evans of Jaguar celebrates after winning the 2024 Monaco E-Prix | Formula E

“A lot of the guys in F1 I raced against I’ve beaten, so just because they’re in F1 doesn’t mean that they’re better than us.”

Another example is Jake Dennis in the Formula 3 championship in 2015 where he beat Charles Leclerc, George Russell, Alex Albon and Lance Stroll, yet didn’t come close to driving in F1.

Evans feels the competitiveness of Formula E is also one of the series’ big positives compared to F1.

“On top of that, the cars are a lot more similar,” continued Evans. “In F1 there are only a few cars that have got capabilities of winning a race or a championship, whereas with us I can literally turn up this weekend and either win or I can just miss it a bit and finish 15th or 16th.

“I think that’s what is so incredible about Formula E is we’ve got this amazing technology, but also, from a sporting point of view, we’ve got these incredible teams, brands and drivers that form a really strong championship.”

It’s certainly a great debate you can have at the pub with your mates, but, for Formula E and F1 as a whole, maybe we should take Nick Heidfeld‘s view of simply enjoying both series.

“I think F1 is still the pinnacle of motorsport, and it’s still much bigger,” said Heidfeld.

“But, for Formula E to already be compared to F1 means that they have done a really good job.

“For me personally, both Formula E and F1, as well as combustion engines and electric cars, it’s not like it’s one or the other.

“I like both. I know a lot of people say ‘if you like this, you can’t like that” or vice versa.”

Nigel Chiu
Nigel Chiuhttps://total-motorsport.com/author/nigel-chiu/
Nigel Chiu is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who worked at Total-Motorsport for 18 months until May 2023. He has been following F1 since 2007 and hasn’t missed a Grand Prix weekend since. Nigel’s worked with several motorsport websites, plus Eurosport and subsequently went on to work with Sky Sports F1 where he travels to multiple F1 races each season.
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