The eighth season of Formula E will start on January 28th, the last with the second generation single-seaters that marked the first major evolutionary step in the category with the elimination of the car change mid-race. The cars destined to debut in the 2022-2023 championship will instead mark another important change, with the introduction of quick-charge pit stops to support the greater power that the single-seaters will be equipped with. First of all, however, a final season with the Gen2 is planned, in view of which the recent FIA World Council ratified some changes to the sporting regulations, going to intervene where critical issues had emerged in the last championship and at the same time altering the dynamics of the race.
The unprecedented qualification format was the most evident change, so much so as to deserve a separate study, but it is not the only noteworthy one. In fact, another significant change will be the change in the management of race neutralizations with the Safety Car and Full Course Yellow regimes. With the advent of second generation cars and the format of timed races, the organizers have always been concerned with maintaining a strategic component in the E-Prix. The intent was to avoid that the energy saved during the neutralizations would allow the pilots to push without worries to the finish, a phenomenon that would have canceled the strategic aspect.
Until the first half of last season, this objective was achieved by subtracting 1 kWh of energy usable by the drivers for each minute spent in the Safety Car or Full Course Yellow regime. The last one Valencia E-Prix however, he had highlighted how, in the case of a neutralization a few minutes from the end, the risk was that the pilots no longer had enough time to manage the residual energy, with the result of not being able to reach the finish line. The rule was then revised for the second half of the championship, specifying that no kWh of energy would be subtracted in the last five minutes of the race.
From next season, however, the mechanism will be completely different. There will indeed be some reduction in usable energy, but for each minute spent in the Safety Car or Full Course Yellow regime, the race time will be extended by 45 seconds, up to a maximum of 10 minutes of recovery beyond the regular 45 minutes. However, there will be no extension of the time for neutralizations occurring after the 40th minute.
More strategic races
Seemingly minor, the change will alter the race dynamics seen so far, giving greater importance to the strategic aspect. In the first place, the addition of recovery minutes reduces the risk that a neutralization in the final could prevent a driver from activating his Attack Modes with the risk of a penalty. In recent seasons it has been seen how all the teams preferred to activate their Attack Modes fairly in advance with respect to the end of the race, maintaining a certain safety margin on the expiration of time to avoid that a neutralization prevented from exploiting the 35 kW of extra power and cost a penalty. With the reduction of this risk following the addition of the extra minutes, it is reasonable to expect that starting from next season the teams will be more daring to activate the last Attack Mode towards the end of the race, thus increasing the possible keys of reading of the tender and with them the diversification of strategies.
In addition to the aspect linked to Attack Modes, the new rule will also impact on the relevance of the strategy in planning the pace of the race and energy management. Instead of the single kWh subtracted for each minute of neutralization, there will in fact be 45 more seconds of race in which the rider, led by the team, will have to manage the pace and energy consumption directly. In the overall balance of the race the time during which the teams will be the creators of their own consumption will increase, while the equal energy reduction for all will disappear during the Safety Car and Full Course Yellow regimes.
The teams will therefore be 100% responsible for consumption during the race, a factor that will give greater importance and freedom to the strategic aspect. There will be additional weight to the strategy the increase in usable power in the race, which will rise from 200 to 220 kW, a factor that will automatically imply an increase in consumption and the need for more effective regeneration under braking.
The greater race power granted by the FIA is also an indication of how, since the debut of the second generation cars, the powertrains have become progressively more efficient, reducing energy dissipation and allowing a more sustained pace to be maintained. The Gen2 EVO single-seaters, whose debut had been canceled following the Covid pandemic, were conceived precisely to exploit these advances, designing an aerodynamic look less aimed at reducing drag, as suggested by the absence of the wheel fairing. .
The other news
With the race power increased to 220 kW, Attack Mode will deliver 30 kW of extra power against the previous 35 kW in order not to exceed the maximum threshold of 250 kW. Contrary to what was in force until last season, moreover, from the 2021-2022 championship It will no longer be possible to activate Attack Mode and Fanboost at the same time.
Among the innovations that will affect the dynamics of the race is also the new qualifying format, designed to avoid penalizing the leaders of the championship from time to time, an aspect that has proven to give life to balanced championships, but with an excess that in the last season has resulted in a confusing league. With the new qualifications it is expected greater stratification on the starting grid based on the different levels of competitiveness of the teams, reducing the occasions in which the top drivers are forced to come back from the back of the grid, to the advantage of more direct clashes between the leaders of the standings.
With the recent World Council, the FIA has remedied another gap in the sporting regulations that emerged last season. In London in fact Lucas di Grassi led the race during the Safety Car regime, overtaking the whole group through the pit lane. From the next championship it will still be possible to access the pit lane under the Safety Car regime, thus allowing emergency stops to be made. At each lap, however, the pit lane exit will remain closed until the last car has crossed the second line of the Safety Car, so that anyone who has returned to the pits can only rejoin the group.
Finally, the list that limited the sensors that could be used for the acquisition of telemetry data was deleted from the sporting regulations. On the other hand, the rule introduced last season will remain in force, limiting the number of remote garages for data processing to a maximum of one for each team, with no more than six people inside.
The new sporting regulations therefore alter the dynamics of the E-Prix, without upsetting the race format that has accompanied the second generation cars since the beginning. The double inaugural appointment in Saudi Arabia at the end of January will show how much the changes have actually changed the full-electric World Championship races for better or worse.
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