While Formula E is designed to advance electric vehicle technology, the series has an equally important task of encouraging the general public to purchase electric cars by making them cool, exciting and accessible.
As with all new technologies, the next generation are a key target market, as they are informed about ecological issues from a young age and, for them, electric vehicles could become the norm over the next 20 years.
While Formula E has done much to target millennials and younger generations through its coverage, social media engagement and fan events, the loss of the Formula E Schools Series has left a gaping hole in making the sport accessible to young talents.
The Schools Series, organised by Greenpower, enabled young engineers, designers and racers to pit their cars against one another on the same track as their heroes in front of crowds of fans around the world.
This week, the Evening Standard reported that a British karting starlet has called on Formula E to bring back Schools Series to support the development of young talent and help him realise his dream of being a Formula E champion.
Lewis Appiagyei, who was awarded the Rookie of the Year Award by Buckmore Park karting track in 2012, commented: “I want to be a racing driver when I grow up and my hero is Lewis Hamilton. I wanted to do Formula E with my friends. I wrote a letter to my headmistress about this event because it’s a good way to learn about engineering. A few months later we found out Formula E were taking it out. It’s really frustrating.”
Lewis’s father Anthony, commented: “When Lewis discovered this school series was going to happen he was jumping up and down. But things started disappearing from the website and Formula E ignored the questions we were asking.”
Let kids race
Lewis has subsequently started a social media campaign, #LetTheKidsRaceUK, to petition Formula E to bring back a Schools Series of some form.
Following the launch of the campaign, Alejandro Agag commented: “It’s great that Lewis and many young people in London are so enthusiastic about Formula E. We can confirm Formula E will be developing a new and exciting programme involving young people for 2016.”
A decision on the location of the 2016 London ePrix is expected today, following Battersea residents’ campaign for local councillors to ban the event’s return to the public park.
Profile and potential
Despite the negative coverage that Formula E has received following the decision to drop the Schools Series, it is fantastic to see that major media outlets such as the Evening Standard are so engaged with the series.
This is testament to the hard work of the Formula E press team over the past year and clearly demonstrates that a broader understanding of the electric racing series has been impressed upon a mainstream press.
Furthermore, for a young racer to aspire to be a Formula E champion, rather than an F1 racer, shows that the outreach is clearly working and that all-electric racing is already making a major impression on the minds of young motorsport fans.
However, this situation does also highlight the need for motorsport as a whole to engage with young talent and support them in pursuing a career in engineering. The Royal Academy of Engineers reports that the UK alone needs over 1 million new engineers and technicians in order to meet demand over the next five years.
The Schools Series embodied the excitement of motorsport by allowing young racers to compete and fulfil their dreams, while also making a career in engineering feel accessible. Such motivation was clear on the teams at last season’s London ePrix, with every team member in each entrant taking to their task with utter professionalism and pride.
I, for one, hope that the Schools Series returns in some guise in the near future.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comment section below or on Twitter using #LetTheKidsRaceUK