One hundred fans descended upon London’s Planet Hollywood last night to take part in the first ever Formula E Fan Forum; where they had the opportunity to meet and put their questions to a number of the drivers from the all-electric series. They were joined by members of the ITV coverage team, race team representatives and a range of media. Everyone present had a passion for this new form of sustainable motorsport in one way or another and you could feel that from the excitement generated in the room. Certainly from the responses we were given during the night and on social media, the event was a resounding success.
Our small team arrived relatively early, but it was great to see a crowd of fans had already assembled in the lounge area and were deep in conversation – in the way that is often so easy amongst motorsport fans – many recognising one another from social media #FEfamily. Of course the buzz ramped up a gear when the drivers and other familiar faces from our TV screens started to arrive; having made their way over from various press events and the necessary track walk within Battersea Park itself.
First to arrive and immediately make himself at home amongst the fans was Virgin Racing driver and London’s very own, Sam Bird. Hugely popular – because of his openness – there’s no doubting that he – with his new Union Jack sporting livery – is going to have the crowd behind him this weekend.
Nelson Piquet Jnr. was the next to arrive, but you’d have been mistaken for thinking Clark Kent had been booked for a guest appearance at the movie themed venue.
The drivers championship leader as we head into the season finale was almost unrecognisable. Sporting no sign of sponsorship, smart glasses and hair straight out of a shampoo commercial; he was a man looking – dare we say – almost a little too relaxed and at ease ahead of such a decisive weekend. An ominous sight.
Andretti’s Jean Eric Vergne, e.dams-Renault’s Sébastien Buemi and Mahindra Racing’s Karun Chandhok completed the line up on the night. As has been apparent throughout this inaugural Formula E season, it was great to see the drivers having such a relaxed time with one another, sharing jokes and talking openly about one another’s chances for the race.
As the crowd assembled below, ITV’s Formula E presenter Jennie Gow took over the mic’ – from commentator Jack Nicholls – to start the night. It began by auctioning some signed photographs of the drivers for charity – with Sam Bird’s raising a whopping £105! – before moving on to audience questions. Fans who were unable to attend the event could also send in their questions via twitter and there were some great ones!…
What was apparent throughout the night was just how much everyone in attendance was enjoying it…
The night ended with another opportunity for those attending to meet the drivers, collect autographs and have their pictures taken with them. This type of access is something that means so much to the fans and has been so successful in drawing people to the sport throughout Formula E’s inaugural year; stretching back as far as summer testing when no one could have predicted the series popularity. We hope that as the racing category continues to develop and grow over the seasons it manages to hold on to the foundations that have helped define it; as an open, fan friendly formula.
The triumph of the first #FEFansForum with its capacity crowd, inviting atmosphere and strong representation from all areas of the sport is testament to those that have helped to grow it; none less so than the fans. We hope it’s the first of many!
#LondonEPrix #FormulaE #DriveTheFuture
Oliver Weingarten, formerly of the Premier League and F1 Teams’ Association, organised the Fans’ Forum under the guise of his agency, OW Advisory.
by Tom Clancy