Millennial Races: How Formula E Attracts A More Youthful Audience

Joel Harvey

Formula One is yer da. It’s middle-aged and likes to embarrass you in front of all your friends.

It wants to be cool, but forgot how to be cool about 20 years ago and it now wears leather jackets on a regular basis to over-compensate.

That’s not to say we don’t still love you F1, we do. We really do. But the sport seems to be several steps back in being able to pull in a younger audience. And without the next generation of fans on board, no-one will be engaging with F1 in 50 years time.

Formula E is different though. From the very start of this race series – only four years ago – the intention was to market FE as a hip, youthful alternative to F1. An F1 with attitude, if you will. And this might’ve been a risky move; Formula E could well have ended up as the Poochie of motor sports. But it’s managed to avoid that pitfall and thanks to interesting innovations, it’s now radicalising racing.

One of FE’s most talked-about attempts to appeal to The Young™ is FanBoost. This is where fans can vote via social media for their favorite driver and the three winners get an extra 100 kJ of energy during the race. For most old-school purists out there, this seemed wrong. So very wrong. And it sent many of them into Daily Mail-like rages of righteous indignation.

But FanBoost wasn’t a feature created for them. It was designed for an audience who live their lives on social media: generation Y. It was controversial, yes, but it created a buzz and that’s exactly what a fledgling sport like Formula E needed. And taking risks like this is the kind of thing that’s helping Formula E draw in new audiences.

Formula E is not only attracting younger fans due to its tight social media game either. Because the sport itself is based around a concept which is incredibly alluring to a newer generation of drivers – the concept of electric cars.

By its very nature, Formula E is a motorsport with its eyes fixed firmly on the future. Electric-powered cars are where the automotive industry is heading, which means that FE is more progressive and future-proof than the world of F1 right now.

This is a place where new ideas and technological advancements are thriving. And without compromising on environmental concerns either, FE is able to boast about its very green credentials.

All of this places Formula E firmly as a sport of the future and one that the next-generation of fans will flock to; it won’t be alone either. Other next-gen sports such as eSports and drone racing are growing more and more popular.

These will likely be joining FE to become the mainstream sports for a new set of sports fans. They’ll happily mix up the current status quo and we should all embrace this, rather than dismiss it out of hand for fear of change.

Not everyone will be ready to accept this new world order, but (extremely Marty McFly voice) your kids are gonna love it.

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