Formula-E racing took over the London Docklands area at the weekend as the season came to its gripping climax amid wet and blustery conditions. You can watch Regit's recap of the weekend here.
It’s hard to believe the all-electric Formula-E is in its ninth season now and all drivers are racing GEN3 cars – the third-generation models with much of the technology that has been developed filtering through into everyday electric vehicles.
But these zero-emission race cars are anything but ‘everyday’ with their top speed in excess of 200mph and a 0-60mph sprint time of just 2.8 seconds.
The single-seat cars look like traditional racing models with their pointy front ends and huge wheels. And with up to 350kW of power - an increase of 40 per cent compared to GEN2 models - the acceleration is blisteringly quick.
Unlike Formula One, all the cars have the same body design, chassis and battery pack, front suspension, wheels and tyres. But the team’s engineers can put their personal stamp on the vehicles by developing their powertrains, gearbox, software and rear suspension. With less areas to personalise, it means the team costs are kept lower and you don’t see the same spending war that occurs in F1.
And teams are also required to pack everything they need for the entire season in relatively small cargo containers for shipment, so there is no flying out replacement parts. If it gets broken it has to be fixed with what’s available.
In addition, the racing format of Formula-E is completely different with races completed much quicker due to limited driving range so drivers have to be clever with their braking and acceleration skills to make the most of regenerative braking throughout.
Each driver starts with 60 per cent of the energy they need to finish the race. That means the regenerative braking is a vital factor or they simply wouldn’t have enough charge to get round.
Then there is the Attack Mode that offers an extra 35kW of power (taking the limit up to 350kW) for overtaking, but this is only available if they drive through an Activation Zone. All drivers must go through the zone and must use their eight minutes of extra power in one or two bursts before the race ends. If not, they face time penalties that could see them plummet from a podium position to well down the field.
And while there are no pit stops at the moment, these are likely to be introduced next season for a rapid battery charge to add even more strategy to the racing and also stretch the length of each event.
Qualifying involves the drivers being split into two groups of 10 with the top four from each group, based on lap times, going into a knock-out competition until the final grid formation is decided.
So, that’s a very quick and simplified summary of Formula-E and it was London that played host to the final two rounds of the 2023 season with race 15 on Saturday and the final contest on Sunday.
With everything still to play for in the season’s finale, we were invited to join the Nissan Team at the London ExCel circuit to get a first-hand experience of the garage, pitlane and, of course, round 16 of the London Eprix race itself.
The London circuit is unique in itself as it’s the only track that has inside and outside sections and, while the weather somewhat put the dampers on Sunday’s racing with safety cars and red flags delaying proceedings considerably, it didn’t spoil the fun for the thousands of spectators who have embraced the thrills of Formula-E.
There was something for all the family, drivers met their fans and signed autographs and there was even a performance by rapper, Tiny Tempah.
When the race finally got underway after six laps behind safety cars, red flags and the track’s safety team working tirelessly to sweep away excess water from the 1.3-mile-long circuit, it was a thrill to watch and hear.
The roar of the engines may be missing, but you still hear these cars approaching long before they blast past and the cornering, pace and battling for every inch of the track is every bit as exciting as F1. But with shorter laps, you watch the drivers fire by every minute, so there is always action directly in front of you.
With Brit Jake Dennis taking second place in Saturday’s round 15 race, that was enough to secure him the championship title no matter what happened in the final race. In addition, the Avalanche Andretti driver became the first Brit to win the title and also the first to do so on home soil too.
But the Team’s Championship was still up for grabs so there was everything to play for. With the lengthy delays, drivers were still vying for valuable team points into early evening but eventually, Season 9 finally drew to a close.
With a one, two, three of Nick Cassidy, Mitch Evans and Jake Dennis representing Envision Racing, Jaguar TCS Racing and Avalanche Andretti Racing, the manufacturer’s title went to Envision Racing – another British success story.
Nissan’s two drivers, Norman Nato and Sacha Fenestraz, finished 4th and 15th respectively with 30-year-old Nato doing exceptionally well during the qualifying rounds starting in third place on the grid.
As the crowds slowly filtered away after watching the podium celebrations there was already lots of chatter and excitement about Season 10.
This was Nissan’s fifth season in Formula-E and it recently acquired partner e-dams, a company Nissan had invested in for some time. In addition, it was announced that Nissan and McLaren would be sharing much of their technology going forwards. And the Japanese team has already committed to Formula-E for the rest of GEN3 racing which is the next three years at least.