The history of Formula E: how it all began

From an idea on a napkin to a sport with no limits: Formula E combines innovation, technology, sustainability and entertainment, and makes sustainability a central issue.

Watch our documentary about the history of Formula E

The idea behind formula E originated on a napkin during an evening meal and over recent years has developed from a brave experiment into an important part of the motorsport scene. Since 2014, the drivers and their teams have been competing against one another in their electric cars in the world’s major cities. Before the first race in Beijing, however, nobody could have suspected what would become of this sport. With its systematic focus on e-mobility, Formula E is today perhaps the most important motorsport series in the world and certainly the most innovative. The growing number of fans and the increasing involvement of the most renowned car manufacturers is evidence of this.

Courage to innovate
Alejandro Agag, the CEO of Formula E, was convinced from the very beginning by the combination of motorsport and sustainability. But he too had to battle against scepticism and critical voices. His first entrepreneurial steps in the world of motorsport were in Formula 1 – the very area where even today many exponents still view a fully electronic racing series with suspicion. Agag did not let this deter him. “As a family man, I wanted to make a contribution to preserving our world for the next generation,” he explains. “In light of climate change, Formula 1 no longer appeared appropriate for the times we live in. E-mobility, on the other hand – that is the future. At the end of the day, I simply had to put into practice what I had always believed in.” He found important comrades in arms for his plan in the form of his friend Alberto Longo, co-founder and current Chief Championship Officer of Formula E; Jean Todt, President of the FIA; and the racing driver Lucas di Grassi.

It all started with a vision
This marked the first step of a major success story. “We had nothing at the beginning – no teams, no drivers, no cars, no racetracks,” explains Alberto Longo. “But we had a vision: the races with the electric cars should take place in the middle of cities, in the very place where people live. And they should be fun!”

Julius Baer – a partner from the word go
Agag found the most important sponsor for his venture in the form of Julius Baer. “As a leading private bank, we have a great interest in sustainable investments that have a positive impact on our future,” explains Gian Rossi, Head Switzerland at Julius Baer. “We recognised the potential and supported Formula E from the very beginning.” In doing so, Julius Baer made it possible for the innovative motorsport series to establish itself. “Julius Baer is the most important sponsor that Formula E has ever had,” confirms last year’s world champion, Lucas di Grassi.

A lot has happened since 2014 – Formula E is hosted by the world’s major cities and is making people enthusiastic about e-mobility. On 10 June, the electric cars will race through Zurich for the first time and thus set an example for sustainability and the future in Switzerland.

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