With the 2021-22 Formula E season approaching the midway point, it won’t be long until the championship’s eighth season ends in Seoul, after which the current Gen2 car will be given its museum spot after four years of service.
In its place, the Gen3 car revealed at the Monaco Yacht Club will take to the grid for the 2022-23 season, the ninth year of Formula E. It’s smaller, lighter, faster, more powerful and more sustainable; The chassis was inspired by a fighter plane, and the car could theoretically hit 200 mph on a right-hand stretch. In the short history of Formula E, a lot of progress has been made.
A long time ago, it was disingenuous for the first generation of Formula E cars to move into the grid around the Beijing Olympic Stadium to start the first-ever championship race in September 2014. At the time, everything was completely new; No one in the ring, or watching TV, knew what was going to happen. The teams were unsure if they would make it to the end of the race, after testing at Donington Park ahead of the 2014-15 season opener raised reliability concerns.
Today’s original cars look rudimentary, especially compared to the scales introduced by the Gen3. Electric mobility has made great strides in the past few years as more manufacturers dedicate space in their product lines to electric vehicles, and Formula E continues to want to be a driving force behind it.
The Gen1 machines started with a common engine and five-speed gearbox, developed by McLaren and Holland respectively. The engine could produce 200 kW in qualified trim, but the race modes were set at 150 kW, so the circuits were rather small to disguise the relatively icy pace, and also included many chassis to introduce regeneration zones.
Williams Advanced Engineering was responsible for the 26 kWh lithium-ion battery, a heavy but small capacity energy store that necessitated swapping cars to race in the early years.
Although it added an element of strategy to racing, giving drivers pit stops to tackle and tune the first car—going long distances would reward you with more power to burn in the second—it was a bit of a joke among motorsport purists. The sight of drivers jumping out of their cars and hopping across the garage to hop into the next garage seemed like a silly touch in the past, but it was a necessary evil given the battery range.
Hopping between cars during a stop was a necessary evil during the Gen1 era due to the limited battery range
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images
Regardless, the Gen1 car kept the chain in action. It looked like an amalgamation of every entry-level formula car, but no matter how it gathered attention and helped attract a slew of big-name drivers and manufacturers who could lend credibility to Formula E, especially when powertrain development was announced open for the series’ second season. .
After four years of helping build Formula E’s fan base and image, the Gen1 car took the baton to the Gen2 mechanism, which aesthetically proved to be a completely different concept. The front wheel covers front end, Batmobile-like bodywork and tail sticks that replaced the traditional rear spoiler arrangement looked dramatically different from anything seen in single-seat racing before. Formula E seems to be aiming to create disruption and develop a radical design concept to visually differentiate its area.
For those not yet convinced by Formula E, the departure of the car swap has been a major factor in shedding some of the championship’s obvious streak. With McLaren Applied Technologies in charge of distributing the new 54 kWh battery, there is now enough capacity inside to complete the entire race. Furthermore, the engines are increasingly more efficient, can regenerate more power, and have been developed to run at 250 kW if qualify – 50 kW more than older engines.
At this point, the engine and gearbox formula converged greatly; In the early years of Gen1, teams would be testing multiple engines and multiple gears to try to find more efficiency – but by the start of Gen2, nearly all teams opted for a single engine with individual drivetrains to minimize any losses.
Gen3 car stats are impressive. For the first time, a Formula E car features electric motors on both axles. In the rear, the car is powered by a 350 kW engine, which Formula E estimates can produce speeds of up to 200 mph – although the circuit’s small size will make this a rare event.
Although auto swaps were abolished, it took with it a vital strategic battlefield. Without a suitable alternative, the concern was that the races could become completely one-dimensional. In its place, the attack mode was born to introduce a certain degree of strategy into the races. By putting the Attack Mode activation loop offline, it gave a distinct penalty to those taking on a higher power mode – and with its use being mandatory, this meant teams and drivers had to think about the best time to take it.
In the middle of the Gen2 car’s life, the displayed power modes changed to increase the cars tempo; The power allowance in Race mode has been increased from 200 kW to 220 kW, while the Attack mode – initially at 225 kW before receiving a 10 kW boost – has been moved to 250 kW for par with qualifying and Fanboost.
For 2022-23 Formula E will be changing the guard – and the Gen3 car’s stats are impressive. For the first time, a Formula E car features electric motors on both axles. In the rear, the car is powered by a 350 kW engine, which Formula E estimates can produce speeds of up to 200 mph – although the small size of the circuits will make this a rare event.
More efficient, advanced engines, combined with a larger battery range and bold design, helped clear some skeptics during the Gen2 era.
Photo by: Simon Galloway/Sports Images
At the front, Formula E introduced a standard 250 kW engine which is only for regenerative purposes. That’s 600 kW of regeneration potential drivers can employ, and even with the additional engine, the Gen3 is 60 kg lighter than its predecessor.
Part of that is due to the reduced size of the battery, as regeneration is so much more powerful that carrying additional cells becomes unnecessary. It is estimated that 40% of the power used in racing will come from renewable energy, up from about 25-30% for a Gen2 car.
Complete removal of the rear brakes helps the car’s weight as well, meaning drivers will rely solely on stopping power from revving the engine at the rear. This should eliminate the need for drivers to have to pull a paddle before a corner to do so, as it should be covered in the software maps automatically.
Formula E has also put more emphasis on sustainability, using recycled and recyclable materials in the construction of the Gen3 car. The new battery pack supplied by Williams Advanced Engineering uses materials that have a certain degree of post-life reusability, with Formula E planning to recycle and repurpose cells after the batteries can no longer be used. The bodyshell now features flax fibers in its body along with recycled carbon fibres, while new Hankook tires incorporate natural rubber and recycled fibers within the chassis.
Trying to integrate sustainability aspirations with performance goals is difficult, but it is something Formula E and the FIA have tried to work on in tandem. Chief Engineer Alessandra Celebrity explained how both boxes can be used with the new car.
“We were trying our best at the meeting [Formula E’s] requests, keeping the technical objective in mind.” “So what you don’t want is to make this car too heavy, you don’t want the car to lose any of the technical and performance parameters that you outlined in the technical brief. But by working closely throughout the process, you can find ways to achieve our technical goals while also enabling them to express the best in terms of sustainability.
“The main challenges were making this car lighter while adding parts. Since we had a front drivetrain, which doesn’t currently exist in a Gen2 car, we added parts, increased power. But despite that, we could reduce the weight of each component.
The Gen3 was publicly revealed for the first time in Monaco
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images
“The monocoque is much safer than it is today but smaller; it takes out the battery and retains more power, but it’s smaller and lighter. Thanks to a shorter wheelbase, and the car is more agile overall, that’s really the best we can expect.”
“We added the parts, we increased the strength. But despite that, we can reduce the weight of each component” Alessandra Celebrity
There will also be a host of potential new venues next season for the new race car: Cape Town is set to host South Africa’s first race in the Green Point region, while the Vancouver event has been pushed back to 2023. Cities of Sao Paulo and Hyderabad have announced their intentions to host the E race -Prix next year as well, ensuring that it looks like Formula E will have a healthy agenda for the start of a new era.
Formula E has come a long way with its cars; If the Gen1 machine was largely a way to get the chain off the ground, the current Gen2 car moved the chain up by increasing power and creating an entirely new face of the championship with its unique look. Gen3, here it is…
New tire supplier Hankook pledges to continue improving Formula E .’s sustainability credentials
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images