Looking at its rapid growth and rise to popularity, it is easy to forget that Formula E is still in its infancy; at the time of writing, it has been just over four years since Alejandro Agag, Alberto Longo and the rest of the Formula E team put together the first ever electric singe seater race around the magnificent Olympic Park in Beijing and it is safe to say that this series has come a very long way since then.
Formula E has travelled to six continents across the globe, has massively improved the efficiency of their cars, attracted top manufacturers in the form of Audi, BMW, Porsche, Renault (now replaced by Nissan) and Mercedes just to name a few, has won over a lot of motorsport fans who criticised the series at first and also, brought a some top drivers into the series. High profile drivers in the world of motorsport such as Felipe Massa, Andre Lotterer, Lucas Di Grassi, Nelson Piquet Jr., Sebastien Buemi, Nick Heidfeld and many more such highly skilled and experienced drivers have raced in Formula E. Although a few drivers such as Jacques Villeneuve, Neel Jani and Takuma Sato have walked away from the series, several drivers, including sports car racers and budding young talents rising through the ranks want to be involved and compete in this ever-so-quickly growing series which has captured the motorsport world by storm.
Often condemned for being a ‘Formula One rejects league’, Formula E has had some key drivers such as Lucas Di Grassi, Sebastien Buemi, Jean Eric Vergne, Nelson Piquet Jr. and more, who were not very successful in the Everest of motorsport that is Formula One.
However, calling them ‘rejects’ and ‘talentless’ drivers simply doesn’t make sense; this lot has played a major role from turning Formula E from just another motorsport series to one of the most action packed and entertaining racing series around and credit is largely due here. This rampant criticism seems to be acting like a stain on the crisp white shirt of Formula E and regardless of the fact that some top sports car drivers have joined the series and diversified the grid, it still remains to be an underlying point that can be used against Formula E. However, some part of the fans’ digs at Formula E does make sense – although on the face of it, their taunts seem to be directly targeting the drivers who have switched from Formula One to its electric counterpart, it is in fact a jibe to the lack of young, fresh and indigenous talent produced by Formula E.
It is safe to say that no young driver driving and competing for the title in the European F3 series or the Formula 2 championship has strongly considered Formula E as the right career choice instead of choosing to take bigger steps towards Formula One. No one until now.
Enter Alex Albon – a young, promising and talented driver who currently sits second in the highly competitive Formula 2 championship and has picked up three wins and four podium finishes this season. Albon is fast, focused and determined to win and is still in the race for the Formula 2 championship, being 37 points behind championship leader George Russell with two races left. Albeit unlikely, Albon can still win the championship and that will put him in a prime position for an F1 seat in the near future. Instead, the young Thai racer has decided to take a bold step and has recently signed for Nissan e.Dams in Formula E, where he will be teaming up with Season 2 champion, Sebastien Buemi. This move is a big positive for Formula E – for the first time in history, a driver has moved from a front running position in Formula 2 straight into Formula E, showing that Formula E can be the top priority for young drivers.
Despite the fact that Alex Albon may use Formula E success as a step to make his way into Formula One, his switch to Formula E signals a change in world motorsport. Should he achieve success with the Japanese manufacturer, he would open the door for many other youngsters rising from the junior Formula to pursue the goal of being a Formula E driver, showing that this series has great potential to be a top world championship and that would shake of all the taunts of the people who do not admire the series.
Additionally, he can be a great marketing asset for Formula E in Asia should he succeed; Asia, being the most populated continent is a big market for motorsport and electric vehicles alike. Should Albon, a youngster from a country passionate about motorsport in Thailand succeed in Formula E, he could attract many new fans to the series. These fans could be from Thailand and also from its neighbouring countries and right now, the thing that Formula E needs the most is more fans – attracting the fans is something that they have been doing well with swiftly rising viewership figures and Albon could massively help in upping that numbers in Asia. Couple that with the fact that he signals the start of an era where Formula E is taken even more seriously by fans and racing drivers alike, it is pretty easy to see why Alex Albon may be the most important driver that Formula E may have after Lucas Di Grassi.
Alex Albon represents great potential for Formula E and he currently is a diamond in the rough – if polished well and given time to develop, he might as well be the most valuable asset for Formula E.
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