After 4 seasons Formula E would “reboot” with a brand new car along with a new race format and regulations. This was as the series was ready to take it’s next step as it looks to compete with the likes of Formula One for ratings.
Season 5 would be built around it’s new Generation 2 car, it sported a much more aggressive design compared to it’s predecessor, featuring the biggest diffuser in single-seater racing and the halo safety device. The reception to the design of the car was well received with some comparing it to the “bat-mobile” while others stating that other series should look towards Formula E for inspiration.
As well as it’s aesthetic appeal the Gen2 also has double the power capacity meaning car swaps would be no longer necessary eliminating one of the biggest criticisms some had of the series. As well as a bigger battery capacity the power output is also higher going from 200kw in qualifying to 250kw.
Attack Mode had also been introduced to add a strategic element to the race, drivers would have to run off-line and into the attach mode zone to activate an extra 25kw of power for a limited time but this would have limited usage, when active the halo on the car would flash blue to signify it’s use. Fanboost has also been opened to 5 drivers as opposed to the 3 of last season so that more drivers can benefit from this. The race format has also been tweaked, rather than the traditional lap count Formula E has opted to go for time, races will last 45 mins plus 1 lap.
Did these changes work? The season opener is Ad Diriyah was a thriller and a good sign for what is to come in season 5. From start to finish drivers were able to push flat-out making the racing more pure and less conservative; a frustration of modern motor sport.
The cars looked great on track, their aggressive design looked like drivers had to tame will beasts rather than driving an easy to drive mellow race car. The Halo flashing depending on what race mode was being used was a great addition if not difficult to see on the television.
It remains to be seen whether attack mode adds much value to the racing, when some drivers had it active there wasn’t a significant pace advantage seen to warrant it’s inclusion. What perhaps didn’t help was the safety car which forced most of the pack to activate this at the same time when the safety car came back in. The positioning of the attack mode activation zone proved to be more of a challenge to some drivers than originally thought with Jose-Maria Lopez missing the zone twice.
Losing the car swaps and seeing a flag to flag race without any need for pit stops or car swaps more akin to MotoGP worked showing that you don’t need variables like tyre strategies to make a race interesting. Race pace still fluctuated between drivers and was far from precessional, the fight between Lopez, Buemi and D’Ambrosio was the best example of this with all 3 cars trading places throughout the race.
Gen2 has shown a lot of promise and certainly delivered in it’s racing debut but we will have to see whether it can continue to deliver great racing throughout the rest of the season.
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