The introduction of a new, more powerful car, will mean a new start for the electric single-seater championship
James Attwood, digital editor
14 December 2018

The fifth season of Formula E starts this weekend in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – but it really marks a new beginning for the electric single-seater championship.

That’s due to the arrival of the new Gen2 race car, which is more powerful and features a larger battery, increasing speeds and allowing cars to complete an entire race without pitstops.

Here’s what to watch for this season.

Technical changes: Formula E’s new Gen2 race car

The ABB FIA Formula E Championship's new Gen2 car, officially called the Spark SRT05E, replaces the Spark SRT_01E that has been in use since the inaugural season in 2014-15.

Aside from new styling, aerodynamics and safety systems (including a halo cockpit protection device), the most notable change is that the cars will be more powerful.

Since Formula E’s second season, teams have been allowed to build their own powertrain with a maximum of 180bhp (240bhp in boost mode), but for the new car that has been increased to 250bhp (335bhp in boost mode).

The extra power will increase top speeds from 140mph to 174mph and trim 0-62mph times by 0.2sec down to 2.8sec.

The Gen2 also features a new McLaren Applied Technologies-built 54kWh battery, replacing the 28kWh unit in the old car. The extra power means that cars can now last for the entire race, ending the need for mid-race car swaps. The Gen2 machine also gets a new brake-by-wire system that improves regenerative braking.

The new battery weighs 385kg, compared to 320kg previously, but with weight savings made elsewhere, the minimum weight of the cars has been increased by only 20kg, to a total of 900kg. 

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The new machines run 18in Michelin Pilot Sport All-Weather tyres, which are designed to last for an entire race weekend.

Rule changes: Formula E’s new boost mode

For Formula E’s first four seasons, the length of each race varied. With the bigger batteries ensuring that drivers no longer need to switch cars mid-race, events will now last for 45 minutes plus one lap.

Races will also feature a new Attack Mode, partly inspired by console racing games such as Super Mario Kart.

To use it, racers must drive through a special ‘activation zone’ marked on the track off the usual racing line. They then receive an extra 34bhp of power. The duration of that boost mode and the number of times it can be used each race will differ for each track.

The Fanboost system, in which drivers receive extra power based on the results of an online vote, will be expanded. Five drivers rather than three will now receive the boost, giving them an extra 34bhp for a limited period.

New manufacturers: who’s on the 2018-19 Formula E grid

The arrival of the new Gen2 chassis and the ever-increasing focus on electric road cars has prompted a number of cars firms to enter the championship, joining existing manufacturers Audi, DS, JaguarMahindra, Nio and Venturi.

BMW (taking over at Andretti Autosport) and Nissan (taking over the e.dams squad from partner Renault) will both run full manufacturer teams. Ahead of Mercedes entering a manufacturer team in 2019-20 (when it'll be joined by Porsche), its long-time motorsport affiliate HWA will enter, using Venturi powertrains.

There have been a couple of other changes: Virgin Racing will switch from DS to Audi powertrains, with Techeetah becoming DS’s partner. 

Penske-powered American team Dragon Racing will go unchanged.

Formula E drivers to watch

Techeetah racer Jean-Éric Vergne claimed the championship last season, despite a strong late-season challenge from works Audi driver Lucas di Grassi. Having used Renault powertrains last year, Vergne will have to adjust to the DS unit.

Di Grassi’s late push helped Audi to claim the teams’ championship, despite a number of clashes with team-mate Daniel Abt. Both will be worth watching this year, especially with Audi determined to fend off rival BMW.

For its first season, BMW’s line-up is rapid British racer Alexander Sims and Formula E race winner António Félix da Costa, while HWA has recruited Brit Gary Paffett and ex-McLaren F1 racer Stoffel Vandoorne.

Another ex-F1 racer, Felipe Massa, will debut in the championship with Venturi, while Nissan has signed young Brit Oliver Rowland to join former champion Sébastien Buemi in its squad.

Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy: new support series

For the first time, Formula E is getting a support championship: the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy.

The one-make series will feature a grid of up to 20 examples of the British firm's electric SUV, running in largely standard form aside from race car requirements such as a roll cage. The machines will use the standard I-Pace's motors, which offer 394bhp and 512lb ft.

Behind the wheel of a Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy racing car

Formula E 2018-19 calendar

In the UK, Formula E races will be screened on the BBC Red Button service and its website, BT Sport and British Eurosport.

15 December 2018 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia    

12 January 2019 Marrakesh, Morocco

26 January Santiago, Chile

16 February Mexico City, Mexico

10 March Hong Kong

23 March Sanya, China

13 April Rome, Italy

27 April Paris, France

11 May Monte Carlo, Monaco

25 May Berlin, Germany

22 June Bern, Switzerland

13/14 July Brooklyn, US (double-header)

Read more

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Join the debate

Comments
7

14 December 2018

Wonder how long before the William team leave F1 and go Electric racing 

16 December 2018

How many people have actually watched one of these races?  It isn't even on TV over here.

14 December 2018

Like every other has-been from F1 wanting to be in the limelight a little longer.

What a load of rubbish Formula E is! Who ever said about F1, I wish it was silent, on dreadful street circuits, using cars with a quarter of the power.

Think DRS is contrived? How about fan boost and Mario-kart inspired activation zones - pathetic.

Sure, it's closer racing than F1, but so is Superbikes, BTCC and local short-circuit grass-track racing. Big deal. It's like saying about football that League 1 is closer to the Premier League and therefore better.

Phew - rant over!

14 December 2018

It is the future unfortuntaely, if we go back to the late 80's we had the Group C (C1) racing, the cars were pretty much the pinnacle of where we have ever been in terms of speed, nothing touches those cars even the cars now would struggle, they were proper fire breathing monsters, much like the F1 cars of the time and into the 90's, everything reaches its natural peak and has to change, i will ALWAYS be an F1 fan and would always choose it over Formula E, but i am pretty sure there are people older than me who would state its all been downhill since the 80's, moral of my story is its the natural order and unfortunaely us fans cannot do anything but accept it, one day Formula E will be quicker than Formula 1, will ALWAYS be missing the roar of a big V10 or V12 though!

14 December 2018
Well I expect there to be even more bodywork littering the tracks with these latest cars. .....

14 December 2018
Fanboost.

What a load of crap.

Says it all.

15 December 2018

I wouldn't watch this if they gave away half a ton of chocolate and a night out with Kylie. Watch what happens as more manufacturers get involved. The minute VAG and Mercedes start pumping hndreds of millions of pounds into it, the costs will go through the roof and they'll completely wreck it like they did with Le Mans, the WRC and everything else they enter. If they took up tiddly winks they'd stick the things through a wind tunnel, make them out of stuff they have to deep mine from nine miles under the Pacific and pay the winkers 20 million a year.

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