What is Formula E?

The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship is an international racing series that exclusively runs its races with electric-powered single-seater race cars. Up to twelve teams with a total of 24 drivers compete against each other in numerous cities around the globe - some of which are former Formula 1 drivers. The first race took place on September 13, 2014. The ninth season is currently underway (2023).

The FIA, the governing body of motorsport that also organizes Formula 1, takes a fundamentally different approach with Formula E than with all other racing series in its portfolio. The goal: to appeal to new and young audiences. Not least for this reason, Formula E events are usually compressed into just one day. Further details on the format of Formula E can be found below on this page. The sporting regulations of Formula E are also publicly available.

At the core of the Formula E brand are values such as sustainability, energy efficiency, and technological progress. The electric racing series is intended to serve as a testing ground for the automotive industry to advance the development of electric cars, make them more attractive, and thus combat climate change. Numerous major automakers have been involved in the championship in recent years.

Formula E mainly holds its races on specially designed street circuits in city centers to bring the event directly to the spectators - and not the other way around. In addition, the FIA wants to promote electromobility where it is already taking place today - but especially in the future: in urban areas.

Schedule of a Formula E event

The Formula E usually holds its race events on a single day: two free practices in the morning, qualifying at noon, and the race in the afternoon. The so-called E-Prix (referring to the term "Grand Prix") typically take place on Saturdays. However, starting from the 2023 season, the first free practice will be held on Friday to ease the schedule of the race day.

Occasionally, events may take place on Sundays or even Fridays. In addition, Formula E holds events with two races in selected cities. In such a "double header", two full races take place on two consecutive days. In a double-header, one of the Free Practices on the second race day is cancelled, so there is only one "Free Practice 3".

Official sessions of an E-Prix

  • Friday: Free Practice 1 (30 min)
  • Saturday: Free Practice 2 (30 min)
  • Saturday: Qualifying (75 min)
  • Saturday: Race (approx. 50 min)
How long is a Formula E race?

Since the beginning of the Gen3 car era in 2023, the race distance in Formula E is again defined by a fixed number of laps. However, three laps before the end of the regular race distance, the race director announces a potential number of additional laps that will be added to the race distance. These laps are based on the time spent under safety car or full-course yellow conditions and are based on a "reference time" set by the FIA before the race weekend. A race can be extended by a maximum of seven laps, and a race may not exceed 75 minutes.

In the bast, Formula E races were defined by a fixed number of laps until the end of season 4. At the start of the Gen2 era in late 2018, the series switched to timed races. For four years, a race lasted 45 minutes plus one additional lap. In season 8 (2022), Formula E introduced the "extra time" rule, under which the race duration was extended by 45 seconds for every full minute spent under safety car or full-course yellow conditions.

How many championship points can Formula E drivers get?

Like in almost all FIA racing series, the top ten drivers in a race receive championship points in Formula E. In addition, pole position is rewarded with three points. The fastest race lap within the top 10 earns an additional point (previously two points until Season 2). The maximum number of points a Formula E driver can score on a race day is therefore 29 points. A team can score a maximum of 47 points in total.

Position Points
1 25
2 18
3 15
4 12
5 10
6 8
7 6
8 4
9 2
10 1
Pole Position 3
Fastest Lap (Top 10) 1
How does qualifying in Formula E work?

Group stage determines the top 8

Qualifying begins with a group stage. The field, currently consisting of 22 drivers, is divided into two groups of eleven vehicles each. The division is based on the current championship standings: drivers in odd-numbered positions in the overall standings (1, 3, ...) compete in Group A, while drivers in even-numbered positions (2, 4, ...) compete in Group B. Drivers who do not participate in the race weekend are removed from the ranking beforehand and new drivers are placed at the back. Before the first race of the season, each team must decide which of its two drivers will start in Group A and which in Group B.

Each group has twelve minutes to set lap times with 300 kW of power (= race mode). Each driver can drive as many laps as they want, but they are required to set at least one lap time within the first six minutes. At the end, the drivers in positions 1 to 4 in each group advance to the knockout phase. Drivers in positions 5 to 11 are later placed on starting positions 9 to 22 - where exactly will be determined only after the final. The position of a driver corresponds to their starting row, regardless of their best time (e. g. drivers qualifying in seventh position in their group will start from the seventh row on the grid)

Duels until the final

For the top 8, the knockout phase "within" the groups now begins, in which two drivers always compete against each other in individual time trials with maximum power of 350 kW. In the quarter-finals, the fastest driver from Group A competes against the fourth fastest driver from Group A, the second fastest against the third fastest driver of the same group, and so on.

Both drivers are on the track at the same time for the duel, with the driver who placed worse in the group stage having to complete his fast lap first (plus one outlap and inlap each). The winners advance to the semi-finals, while the losers receive starting positions 5 to 8 based on their lap times. The same procedure is repeated in the two semi-final duels and in the final, where the pole position and three championship points are at stake.

In addition, the outcome of the final is crucial for the starting positions 9 to 22 mentioned earlier: all drivers from the pole sitter's group start in an odd-numbered position, thus receiving a better starting position in their already defined starting row.

Review: The qualifying format until season 7 (2020/21)

Until the season finale in 2021, Formula E qualifying was held in four groups to avoid traffic congestion on the short and sometimes narrow city courses. The groups were put together based on the current standings in the driver championship. Each qualifying group included a total of six drivers. The six highest-ranked drivers in the overall standings started the qualifying session first.

  • Group 1: Positions 1-6
  • Group 2: Positions 7-12
  • Group 3: Positions 13-18
  • Group 4: Positions 19-24

Each qualifying group had six minutes to set a time - long enough for an outlap from the pit lane, an optional warm-up lap with 200 kW (race mode), and a single fast lap with the full power of 250 kW (qualifying mode). The six overall fastest drivers from the group stage then (since season 2) took part in a final shoot-out for the so-called Super Pole.

In the Super Pole session, the pilot with the sixth fastest lap time from the group phase initially went out onto the track. As soon as he began his fast lap, the light at the exit of the pit lane turned green to release the track for the fifth fastest driver. This procedure was continued until the fastest driver of the group phase. The order of the shoot-outs ultimately determined the first six positions on the starting grid. Starting positions 7 to 24 corresponded to the overall order during the group phase.

What is Full Course Yellow (FCY)?

The race director of Formula E has the option to display yellow flags around the entire race track. This model, called "Full Course Yellow" (FCY), is similar in effect to the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) used in Formula 1. If there is a permanent yellow flag, drivers must slow down to 50 km/h and maintain the gap to the car in front.

Overtaking is prohibited during the permanent yellow phase. If a driver does not comply or drives inappropriately - whether too fast or too slow - they will be summoned to the race stewards. The pit lane remains open during an FCY phase. The standard speed limit of 50 km/h also applies here. Between the Safety Car lines, a car on the track can overtake another if it is currently located within the entrance or exit of the pit lane.

Which Safety Car is used in Formula E?

Since the 2022 season, a fully electric Porsche Taycan Turbo S is being used as the safety car in Formula E. Previously, the series relied on a plug-in hybrid car, the BMW i8. In the meantime (from the Rome E-Prix 2021), the Mini Electric Pacesetter was also used at selected races. The safety car driver for Formula E has been Portuguese Bruno Correia since the first race in 2014.

What is a Shakedown?

The shakedown is usually the first session of a race weekend where drivers are allowed to drive a limited number of laps with reduced power. It is usually used to test basic functions of the car after transportation and to test the communication between the team and the driver around the track. Lap times are not officially recorded or published during the shakedown.

Currently, the duration of the shakedown is limited to 15 minutes. Between 2014 and 2018, it was still 30 minutes. During this time, drivers are allowed to complete a maximum of three laps, with the power limited to 110 kW. The shakedown is not broadcasted on TV or in any Formula E livestream.

Although the shakedown is not mandatory, the regulations state that it should be conducted if possible. The regulations also allow for the shakedown to be completed alternatively behind the safety car. In a "double-header", it is only conducted before the first race.

What happens at a race start in Formula E?

As a full warm-up lap would consume too much energy, the cars initially position themselves a few meters behind their actual starting positions on the so-called dummy grid. Shortly before the start lights come on, the drivers finally roll forward to their final starting positions, often with spinning wheels, to ensure that all cars are ready to start and that none of them are left stationary at the start.

Penalties in Formula E

During a race, if a driver behaves improperly, the stewards can choose from a list of four penalties:

  • 5-second time penalty: Five seconds will be added to the driver's total race time after the race.
  • 10-second time penalty: Ten seconds will be added to the driver's total race time after the race.
  • Drive-through penalty: The driver must drive through the pit lane without stopping, while adhering to the given speed limit, usually 50 km/h.
  • 10-second stop-and-go penalty: The driver must stop in the pit lane for ten seconds without the mechanics working on the car. Afterward, the driver can resume the race. This is the harshest penalty.

If a driver has already retired from the race at the time the penalty is issued, the penalty can be converted into a grid penalty for the next race in which the driver participates. If the race is in its final two laps or has already finished, drive-through and 10-second stop-and-go penalties will be converted into time penalties that roughly correspond to the time lost due to the respective penalty.

The following penalties can be imposed for violations during other official sessions:

  • Deletion of lap times: The driver's fastest laps in qualifying will be removed from the results list.
  • Reprimand: The driver will be given a warning for an offense.
  • Written warning: The driver will receive a warning. If the driver receives three warnings within a season, two of which are self-inflicted, they will automatically be moved back ten positions on the starting grid for the next race.
  • Relegation by any number of positions: The driver must start from further back in the starting grid for his next race.

If a grid penalty cannot be fully applied, for example, because the driver is already on the last starting position, they will receive a drive-through penalty that they must serve during the race. If there are more than ten positions left in such a case, they will receive a 10-second stop-and-go penalty.

The race director reserves the right to issue additional time penalties. In addition, there are options for disqualification or even a ban on starting the next E-Prix. Offenses by drivers and teams, such as driving too fast in the pit lane, can also be punished with fines.

Furthermore, there is the so-called "energy offset penalty": A driver who starts the race not from the grid but from the pit lane can have energy deducted from their race allowance if they would gain an advantage by taking this shortcut.

The stewards can award penalty points that are tied to the driver's racing license for twelve months. If a driver accumulates twelve penalty points within this period, they will be automatically suspended for the next race.

Testing in Formula E


With few exceptions, Formula E teams have a strict testing ban during a season. Only during up to six collective test days organized by the FIA may the racing teams test their vehicles. At least three of these six test days must take place before the season begins. In the past, these pre-season test drives were held first at the Donington Park circuit in the UK, then at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo near Valencia in Spain.

Additionally, a maximum of two test days during the season can be reserved for so-called rookie tests. Only drivers who have not participated in an official Formula E session (free practice, qualifying, or race) are allowed to participate. After two days of official testing (before or during the season), a rookie also loses this status.

Furthermore, each team can participate in up to six promotional events per season, where it may send its car onto the track for a maximum of three days. As with shakedowns, a reduced maximum power of 110 kW and a total energy amount of 25 kWh are available. The tires used must be requested from the series' sole supplier. It is prohibited to conduct promotional events on a track that is part of the current race calendar before the race has taken place there.

Until the end of the Gen2 era, each team was allowed to use six so-called filming days per season, during which a maximum of 50 km could be traveled for filming and advertising purposes.


To prepare for the homologation of a new powertrain, the registered manufacturers of Formula E have twelve (formerly 13) private test days available. Each manufacturer may use a total of 4,800 kWh of energy. They may freely choose the dates and location of the test drives. The duration of a test day is limited to twelve hours, and testing cannot begin before 6 am. It is not necessary to use the entire quota of test days.

If a manufacturer supplies at least one customer team with powertrains, its quota is extended by eight additional test days. The total amount of available energy increases by 3,200 kWh to 8,000 kWh. The manufacturer must make at least 50 percent of this additional track time available to the customer team.

Further test drives, whether wind tunnel tests, measurements on the test bench, or CFD studies, are strictly prohibited for both teams and manufacturers.

How often per season can a team change its drivers?

Since Season 2 (2015/16), teams are only allowed to use three drivers per car number throughout the entire season, meaning a maximum of six drivers per team. In addition, the cockpits must be occupied by the same drivers for the final three races of the season to avoid any conflict potential for the championship outcome. In Season 1 (2014/15), more than 35 different drivers competed. The following year, due to the rule change, there were only 23 drivers.

If a driver unexpectedly drops out, it is still possible, after consultation with the stewards, to find a replacement, even if the replacement quota has already been exhausted or if it is one of the last three races of the season.

Car swap in Formula E

Because the battery from Williams Advanced Engineering didn't last a full race distance in the first four seasons of Formula E, drivers switched to a second car provided by the team in the pit lane around the middle of the race. For the car change, the organizer set a minimum time from entry to exit of the pit lane depending on the race track in the first three seasons, which could not be undercut to ensure safety. With the Santiago E-Prix of the fourth season, Formula E abolished the minimum time for pit stops.

At the start of the fifth season in December 2018, as planned, Formula E said goodbye to the car change once and for all. The new standardized battery from McLaren Applied Technologies made the previously mandatory pit stop redundant, because with a capacity of 52 kWh of usable energy, the batteries now lasted an entire race. The Gen3 car, introduced in the 2023 season, also has the capacity to be fast-charged during the races, although in-race pitstops are not expected to return before 2024.

What is an e-Licence?

The e-Licence is mandatory for drivers to participate in a Formula E race. Obtaining the racing license requires the following:

  • A driver must have at least an international B-license from the FIA.
  • A driver must attend an FIA course on safety, technical and sporting aspects of electric motorsport, and pass a written test.
  • A driver must have earned at least 20 points in the FIA Super Licence system in the previous three years. Alternatively, possession of a former F1 Super Licence (with at least 40 points) or participation in at least three Formula E races in the previous season is considered eligibility.

If a driver has not had the opportunity to meet the requirements mentioned above, they must be assessed by the FIA as a "talent with outstanding abilities in Formula racing" and may obtain a special permit.

What is the cost cap in Formula E?

In addition to the vehicle costs, the total expenses are also limited by a cost cap. Since the beginning of the 2023 season, there have been two cost caps in Formula E: one for the teams and one for the manufacturers. In the first two years of the Gen3 era (seasons 2022/23 and 2023/24), teams are generally not allowed to invest more than 13 million euros per year in their race operations. The manufacturer budget limits the costs for powertrain development to 25 million euros. From the 11th Formula E season (2024/25), the team budget will increase to 15 million euros per year.

The cost cap is based on the assumption that at least twelve race weekends will be held in the respective seasons. It is irrelevant whether the events take place as single races or "double-headers". If fewer than twelve events are held, the annual budget will be reduced by 250,000 euros times the number of missing race weekends. Similarly, the cost cap can also be increased by the same factor if more than twelve weekends are held.

For now, driver salaries are not part of the Formula E cost cap. They will only be included in the deployment team's budget from October 1, 2024. Formula E wants to prevent "previously negotiated contracts" from being cancelled and renegotiated with smaller driver salaries. Also excluded from the financial framework are expenses directly related to activities in marketing, finance, legal transactions, or real estate.

Exceptions include taxes, social security contributions (provided they do not exceed 13.8% of employees' gross salaries), foreign exchange losses (relevant, among others, for teams based in the UK but paying in euros), penalties to the FIA's "Cost Cap Administration," and depreciation of intangible assets (except for software and patents relevant to race operations).

In simple terms, the cost cap only applies to the areas of a team/manufacturer that are essential to operating the race cars.

How much does a Formula E car cost?

The price of a complete Formula E car including the powertrain is set at a maximum of 835,000 euros in the Gen3 era (since 2023). This breaks down as follows: 340,000 euros for the chassis, 245,000 euros for the battery from Williams Advanced Engineering, 227,300 euros for manufacturer parts, and 12,700 euros for the Halo safety system. There is no longer an administrative fee for the FIA, as there was during the Gen2 era.

For customer teams, an additional 250,000 euros are required for the purchase of a powertrain, making it a total of 500,000 euros per team.

Category Gen3 (2023) Gen2 (2018) Gen1 (2014)
Total car cost (for customer teams) € 835,000 € 817,300 n/a
Chassis € 340,000 € 299,600 n/a
Battery € 245,000 € 200,000 n/a
Manufacturer parts (for customer teams) € 227,300 € 250,000 n/a
FIA handling fee - € 55,000 n/a
Halo system € 12,700 € 12,700 -
Salary: How much does a Formula E driver earn?

The average earnings of Formula E drivers are estimated to be around 750,000 euros per year, according to media reports ('The Race', as of February 2020). The top earners in the electric series are believed to make between 2.2 and 2.8 million euros annually. It is expected that driver salaries will increase by 10 to 15 percent per season, in line with the growth of the Formula E.

In Season 1, there were only a few drivers who earned more than 350,000 euros. The rapid increase in salaries has made Formula E cautious about the issue, especially in light of the cost cap that applies to many other areas of the series.

Ownership: Who owns Formula E?

The media conglomerate Liberty Global of US media mogul John Malone holds the largest share of the Formula E (as of November 2019). Other major shareholders include the Eurosport parent company Discovery Communications, the Chinese sports marketing firm SECA, the Swiss bank Julius Bär, and the private equity fund Amura Capital. Formula E Chariman Alejandro Agag is also a shareholder of the series. In addition to him, Allianz, Qualcomm, and Causeaway Media Partners are among the other shareholders.

Logistics in Formula E

At first glance, it seems impossible to transport an entire racing series around the world while respecting the environmental principles of Formula E. To tackle this challenge, Formula E has relied on logistics partner DHL from the beginning.

DHL ships most of the equipment around the planet by boat or train, trying to avoid emissions as much as possible. Only the cars are transported by airplane for safety reasons. Apart from that, Formula E has set a goal of designing the race calendar with as short distances as possible between the venues. However, this is not always possible in practice.

How big can a Formula E team be?

The number of people in each racing team at the track is limited in Formula E. Each team is allowed a maximum of 17 people working on the cars. Including the drivers, team management, media spokespersons, team doctors, and a total of eight invited guests, each team has no more than 35 people with access to the garage. Each racing team can also designate one additional driver as a reserve.

Is there a "drop score" in Formula E?

The "drop score" rule, which removed the worst individual race result from each driver's score at the end of the season, was only used in the first year. At that time, the so-called discarded result had only a minimal impact on the overall standings for Nico Prost: the Frenchman lost one point from the London race due to the regulation. Afterwards, the regulation was abolished by the organizer.

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