Fanboost has always been a hot topic in Formula E, but despite if you love it or hate it, the system could be improved to help Fanboost become more of a success in the series.
Currently, the Formula E vote closes after the first 15 minutes of the race, and drivers are allowed to activate it after 22 minutes have passed in the race. However, this season drivers who have received the Fanboost have retired from the E-Prix making the vote pointless. HWA’s Stoffel Vandoorne and Mahindra Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein won the Fanboost in Marrakesh. However, both were unable to use it as they retired on lap 1.
If they had announced that these drivers had won the Fanboost vote before the E-Prix had started, then it would not have looked so silly for the broadcasters to explain that they are out of the race and won’t be able to use Fanboost. What’s the point in fan engagement if their driver wins the vote but is already out of the race?
That’s why if Formula E should close the fanboost vote five minutes before the race, then at least every driver is racing when the lights go out, and there aren’t any meaningless Fanboost results during the race. However, you could say that if a driver with Fanboost retires on lap one, then it was a waste of Fanboost, but with the result being announced before the start of the race, they were technically able to use the system in their short time in the race.
Hang on; I hear you say. I thought the drivers could only use the Fanboost after 22 minutes? Yes, you’re right, and that is something else that needs to be changed with the Fanboost system. Drivers should be able to use the Fanboost system from the moment the lights go out.
Imagine a driver using that extra 25kW of power off the start after a bad qualifying session to try and gain positions early on, giving fans instant impact from there vote. Waiting for 22 minutes before being able to use it may stop the driver from even using it if they are not in a position to use it. Remember using Fanboost is detrimental to a drivers battery consumption. Therefore, if the drivers were able to use it from the start, then they have more time to recover the energy into the battery during the race.
Also, having the Fanboost ready to use from lights out also creates more strategic options in the early stages of the race while the field is close together. A driver could use Fanboost just before going into the Attack Mode zone to gain extra speed to help them with their strategy. Furthermore, with the cars being closer together at the start the is more chance of there being a Fanboost overtake which the series love when it happens. However, in its current format, it is rare to see an overtake completed with Fanboost.
The only way that you can use the current system to make Fanboost more meaningful is to remove any driver from the Fanboost standing who has retired from the first 15 minutes of the race. Therefore, after 22 minutes there will be five drivers who are racing that will have a chance to use Fanboost. This will remove the meaningless Fanboost victories that drivers receive despite being out of the race. Also, by removing the drivers who have retired from the race from the standings, you could set up a more interesting final few moments of the race as more drivers have Fanboost at there disposal to try and gain or defend their position.
Fanboost can still play a huge role in the series. It has to be utilised correctly and made to feel like its an essential part of the championship, which in recent times it has not felt like its an integral part of the series, but just a gimmick bolted on to try and spice up the action while ticking of fan engagement. We don’t think that’s good enough anymore.