The Fanboost system, which has been splitting opinions since Formula E’s debut in 2014, is due to be dropped from the sport after the teams and promoters have all come to the same agreement.
The news comes after the success of last years changes to the qualifying format which created a more organic racing ethic. Prior to the qualifying changes, the format seemed to be detrimental to the drivers at the front of the championship and ended in completely chaotic races.
Losing the Fanboost system is likely to make a lot of viewers, teams, and drivers happy as it is another step closer to true racing rather than bringing popularity into it.
The system has been in place in Formula E since the sport started in 2014. It gave fans the opportunity to vote for their favourite drivers to receive a power boost. The system has been tweaked over the years but with lots of complaints and controversy, is now set to be dropped.
During the 2014/15 season, fans had to cast their vote between twelve days before the race up to one hour before the race start. The drivers would then receive an additional 30kW, with the standard 150kW race power increased to 180kW for five seconds.
During the 2015/16 season, the system was changed to allow fans to only be able to vote during the first six minutes of every E-Prix, so the drivers would be able to use their boosts closer to the end of the race when they were in their second Gen1 cars. The reward for the drivers changed for this season as well. The top five Fanboost voted drivers would receive 100kJ of additional energy to a maximum of 200kW. They were then able to choose as to whether they would use this to extend their energy across the 190-200kW power range or as a boost.
Drivers complaints began to ramp up in 2016 when the Fanboost voting could also be with hashtags on social media and drivers were pushed to promote themselves. Many drivers felt that the votes were being manipulated, some by Telescope, the tech company that was brought in to collate the votes.
Daniel Abt, who drove for Audi, talked about the Fanboost system in 2018 and explained he was “fed up to the back teeth” of it and alluded that “there are some drivers who manage to cheat a bit” by using their social media platforms. He said:
“I’m not saying it because I’m a sore loser, I’m saying it because I know it – somebody told me about it. Definitely there’s something wrong,”
Rumours were flying around that some drivers were using ‘bots’ to increase their votes, although these claims were never verified. Abt said:
“Strangely, all the votes are from 12 cities in China, so they must have an awesome fanbase there,”
“Formula E knows about it, but they can’t do anything because they cannot prove it properly.
“This is a catastrophe. I was getting really upset about it.”
Formula E chairman, Alejandro Agag, came out at the time to defend the system that was “constantly monitored and reviewed to ensure user verification and credible results”:
“We’ve continued to improve the system since it was implemented in the first-ever season of Formula E, adding further layers of authentication to the voting process following suggestions from the teams,”
It is anticipated that the FIA will be announcing the new Gen3 format at the world motorsport council meeting this week. The dropping of the Fanboost system is likely to be at some point during 2023.