2018 Ad Diriyah E-prix

Developing the Gen2 cars a ‘steep learning curve,’ says Hughes

As the new Gen2 cars hit the Ad Diriyah circuit for the most eagerly anticipated season in Formula E history, every team in the paddock was taking a bold new step into the unknown.

New rules, new regulations and, most importantly, a new Gen2 machine has meant many months of preparation. And, as NIO Formula E Team Principal Gérry Hughes told Motorsport Tech in Ad Diriyah, it has been a steep learning curve.

“It has been tough, it has been a steep learning curve during the course of the summer, during manufacturer testing,” said Hughes. “But clearly, the advent of having brake by wire, or BBW as it’s called by the engineers on board the car, has brought a new level of complexity in terms of how we manage that torque balance with and without regeneration during the course of a race, in harvesting the energy.

Gérry Hughes, NIO Formula E Team Principal
Gérry Hughes, NIO Formula E Team Principal, addresses Acronis’ guests during the Ad Diriyah Formula E ePrix in Saudi Arabia, December 2018.

“Clearly the car is all new as well, there is new architecture on the vehicle, so altogether there has been a great deal to be introduced to, to understand, to get on top of and obviously from a performance point of view, to optimize going into Season 5 here in Saudi.”

The race itself proved a mixed bag for the NIO team, with Tom Dillmann initially qualifying on the front row before technical infringements relegated both drivers to the back of the grid. So what does Hughes make of the new racing spectacle, and how hard was it to adjust to the new rules and regulations?

“You could go into the races in Season 1 through to Season 4 and know pretty much within two laps when you’re going to stop to do your car change,” added Hughes. “Now it’s a case of how hard you run, how many laps do you want to do and that’s how the whole race strategy is unfolding lap-by-lap or minute-by-minute, as the case may be during the course of the race. So it’s going to be very interesting to see with all the new drivers and some of the new teams that we have, how that plays out on a Saturday afternoon.”

Top Image: Oliver Turvey, NIO Formula E Team, during the Ad Diriyah ePrix at Riyadh Street Circuit on December 15, 2018. ©Alastair Staley / LAT Images.

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.