Why Formula E should remove FanBoost for 2023 (Season 9)

Jake Dennis (GBR), Avalanche Andretti, BMW iFE.21 Leads at the start of round 13 of Season 8 in Formula

Season 9 will usher in the Gen3 era and new teams, but it is time to retire the well-intentioned FanBoost feature.

Earlier this month The Race reported that Formula E teams have unanimously voted to eliminate the FanBoost program for the upcoming season. The initiative has been present as part of the series since its inception in 2014. A controversial idea that was often seen as too gimmicky and disliked by the majority of drivers.

What is FanBoost?

The video above does a great job of breaking down the reasonably straightforward process. In the days leading up to each E-Prix fans can vote on the FanBoost website or in the Formula E app. Fans can vote each day using both methods and switch which drivers they select each time. The five drivers with the most votes will receive a short one-time burst of extra power in the race. Roughly enough to either make one overtake attempt or defend from a driver charging from behind.

In theory a novel concept. It adds a bit of additional strategy to the race and lets viewers factor into the outcome. Easy to vote, easy to understand. However, Formula E missed a fatal flaw.

Where FanBoost Failed

Everyone has a favorite driver or multiple, so voting for them adds to the spectacle of a Formula E E-Prix. However, if you look back at the FanBoost results from Season 8 here, you’ll see a noticeable trend. Stoffel Vandoorne, Jean-Eric Vergne, Mitch Evans, Antonio Felix da Costa, etc. You will be hard-pressed to find a round that didn’t feature at least three of these drivers. Champion Vandoorne was in the top five for every single round last season.

The problem with letting fans vote for their favorite drivers is that they’ll want to vote for that driver every round. Thus the same drivers often get the advantage while the majority of the field never receives it. Going into almost every round you have a good idea of how is going to be in the top five, barring a massive online campaign from a fanbase, and thus the interest in the results and the marketing idea is diminished.

How to Improve FanBoost (if retained)

While the expectation is that Season 9 sees away with the concept completely it could be saved, if modified. When the season opens in Mexico City run the FanBoost campaign as normal with the top five receiving the benefit. Then two weeks later when the series arrives in Diriyah for a doubleheader FanBoost voting opens for round two, but this time without the five drivers who topped the charts last time.

They would continue this process until every driver has cycled through. With an expected ten teams, 20 drivers, for Season 9 that would ensure everyone gets the FanBoost every four races. It would also engage viewers to vote for their favorite driver from those remaining available. Perhaps not ideal, but improved, as there is little reason to continue the interactive feature as it is currently designed.

Featured Image Credit: Sam Bagnall