With the anticipation building before the start of a brand-new ABB Formula E season, new regulations are aimed at making the racing even more exciting than last year’s epic championship.
— DS TECHEETAH (@DSTECHEETAH) November 21, 2019
Last season saw the introduction of the highly successful Attack Mode innovation, and to further improve the spectacle for fans, the available power for Attack Mode sees an increase from 225kW to 235kW.
If this isn’t enough to whet the appetite of electric racing fans, the regulations have been altered so that energy consumption is set and deducted from cars during full course yellow periods, meaning drivers are not obliged to significantly save energy during a safety car.
It could lead to the exciting scenario of cars running extremely close to the limit and even running out of energy, as Pascal Wehrlein found to his cost in Mexico City.
“It’s actually going to make it that little bit harder to conserve energy, if I’m honest,” new DS TECHEETAH driver Antonio Felix da Costa exclusively told Motorsport Tech. “We always plan to finish the race on zero energy, then you know you have maximised your performance. This was the plan. Now, they will take a percentage away from us as Safety Cars and full course yellows happen. So, the goal is still the same, to finish the race with the least energy as possible, and that means we’ve used it all. But the way of managing that now is going to be a dynamic thing now, because they can take energy away from you during the race, so it’s going to be a very big job for teams to understand that as the race is going on and to understand we’ve taken the right amount and not too much, and not too little.
“We’ve seen in Valencia some cars really pulling away and opening a gap of 10-15 seconds away from the rest. These cars would have been disqualified in a new race situation, because they would have used more energy than what they should have. So, I think we’ll see some messy races to start with and people trying to understand properly what to do. But I think in that respect, we as a team are well prepared, investing a lot of time in the simulator and practicing all of those scenarios, so for sure, new rules always make things more interesting.”
After getting to grips with a whole new set of regulations and entirely new way of driving a car during his debut season in Formula E, Venturi Racing’s Felipe Massa echoed da Costa’s sentiments that it could make for even more exciting race finishes than witnessed in an often frantic Season 5.
“I think we can have more overtaking, especially in the last part of the race with people struggling for battery, others a bit less because maybe they save a bit more at the beginning,” Massa told Motorsport Tech. “So, I think maybe the show can be interesting, even improving. But we need to wait and see after the first race to see if this will really be the result.”
As for the increase in power with Attack Mode and the inability to use under full course yellows and Safety Cars, da Costa sees even more strategic thinking coming into play.
“I think Attack Mode is great and the way it’s being implemented now is even better because you can do a lot of strategy now with the way the rules are written, because you cannot activate it under the Safety Car. So, you will most of the time lose time, so there will be an offset loss to then have a gain.
“Last year, we could sometimes eliminate the loss if you were under Safety Car or full course yellow. Now, every race there will be a loss, so there will be more strategy to think of, for sure. And that’s a really cool thing.”