What will be different for Season Nine of Formula E?
Written by Vyas Ponnuri, Edited by Ishani Aziz
The Seoul E-Prix weekend will be remembered as a momentous occasion in the history of Formula E. Not only is it the first time Formula E will take place in Seoul, it is also the last time we will see Gen2 cars (second generation cars) racing. The Spark SRT05e, or Gen2 Formula E car has been used by the teams since the 2018-19 season. Their era has come to an end, and next season will see Gen3 cars used across all teams. This drastic change isn’t the only one for next season, so let’s delve into what else will be new.
The Gen3 Formula E car
The new Gen3 cars will be the obvious step forward for Formula E next season. It’s reported to be the fastest Formula E car to date, capable of reaching 320 KPH (200 MPH), according to predictions. The Gen3 cars are seven inches shorter and four narrower than the Gen2 cars. The new generation will also be 1.5 inches lower to the ground, weighing 1852 pounds (with the driver), which is down a whopping 132 pounds from this season's cars. So overall Gen3 cars will be more efficient and certainly lighter compared to their predecessors.
In terms of speed, current Formula E cars have an electric motor on the rear axle for regenerating energy, and can produce up to 335hp while gen3 cars are capable of 469 hp. Gen3 cars are also expected to have better energy regeneration overall, with a 250 kilowatt motor on the front axle of the car, and a 350 kW on the rear axle (resulting in 600 kW of energy recoverable under braking). This regeneration will be coupled with the ability for “Flash-charging” up to 600 kW of energy at a time, allowing pit stop-recharging during races. On top of all this, they will have significantly greater power, with an expected 350 kW in qualifying (300 in the race), as opposed to 220 kW (and 250 kW for a race) previously.
Finally, the Gen3 car claims to be more sustainability-focused. The batteries used will be from sustainably-sourced minerals that can be reused and recycled. Impressively, the carbon fibre used to build the bodies of the cars will be built from recycled carbon fibre from the Gen2 cars. The linen will also help reduce the carbon footprint of producing the panels. The tyres used will have 26% natural rubber and recycled fibres. All the tyres used will be recycled at the end of the race.
These advances in the Gen3 car are remarkable, and their chassis will continue to be produced by Spark Racing Technology. The MGU (Motor Generator Unit) for the front axle will also be supplied by Spark. Williams Advanced Engineering will be in charge of the batteries, and Hankook for supplying all-weather tyres, having sustainable rubber and bio-material.
The calendar for next season will also see a number of changes. First up, the season will have an 18-race calendar, hosted in 13 cities. This will be the longest season in Formula E, beating the previous record of 16 races over 10 cities from the previous season. The Formula E calendar consists of two all-new races, in Hyderabad and Sao Paulo respectively, early in the season.
The Rome E-Prix has been pushed back to be the penultimate round of the season, and the Seoul E-Prix has been brought forward to be in late-May. The Jakarta E-Prix weekend gets an extra race for this season, thanks to the inaugural event being a resounding success in the previous season.
There are still three races which are yet to be decided upon by Formula E. This will be confirmed later in the year. Potential choices for these slots include Cape Town or New York City but nothing has been confirmed yet.
Mercedes EQ had announced that they would leave Formula E at the end of the 2022 season, in the pre-season winter break, after having won both titles in the same year. The reason for this was to focus their main work on F1, and to reallocate resources towards their electric car development.
Mercedes, along with its sister team; ROKiT Venturi, will depart from the sport next season. McLaren had announced its acquisition of the Mercedes EQ team earlier this year in May. Maserati had also announced that they would be joining the sport in 2023, and would work in a multi-year agreement with ROKiT Venturi. In April, Nissan announced their takeover of the E-Dams team, thereby becoming the Nissan Formula E team. And, a month later, ABT Sportsline, one of the partners of the old Audi Formula E team, also announced their return to the sport for the 2023 season.
In the powertrains department, McLaren will be powered by Nissan, and ABT Sportsline to be powered by Mahindra. Powertrains for the rest of the grid would be known as the winter break progresses.
Finally, we come to the drivers for the next season. In May, Sebastian Buemi announced that he would be moving from Nissan E-Dams to Envision Racing, joining Nick Cassidy. Andre Lotterer announced his departure would leave the sport after the 2022 season to return to the WEC (World Endurance Championship) with Porsche. Alexander Sims also announced his departure from the sport at the end of the season. Very recently, Mahindra announced their signing of current ROKiT Venturi driver, Lucas Di Grassi, to partner Oliver Rowland for the 2023 season.
These moves are the least of it, with the current championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne expected to join DS Penske (currently DS Techeetah), alongside Jean Eric Verge. He will replace Antonio Felix Da Costa, who moves to Porsche to partner Pascal Wehrlein, replacing Lotterer. Nyck De Vries also seems to be eyeing a move, and could either head to Maserati for the next season in Formula E, or to drive for Toyota in WEC. Elsewhere, Jake Dennis is looking to re-sign with Andretti Autosport for another season, as is Edoardo Mortara with Maserati. Jaguar have announced that Mitch Evans and Sam Bird will continue to drive for them in 2023 as well. Nissan could hand a debut to Franco-Argentine driver Sacha Fenestraz for next season. It is also unclear whether Max Guenther will drive for the team next season. All in all, the silly season will continue to heat up as the winter break moves on.
With all the changes expected to occur for next season, Formula E Season Nine will certainly be one to watch.