DS Techeetah driver and defending driver champion Jean-Eric Vergne believes energy saving during ePrixs, something that had been a mainstay throughout the FIA Formula E championship’s first four seasons, risked being lost with the new 45 minute plus 1 lap race format.
Speaking at the Hong Kong ePrix, Vergne explained that full course yellows and safety car periods during an ePrix have given drivers less incentive to save energy as part of their overall race strategies.
“When you have full course yellow or a safety car, because of the 45 minutes, you have a double effect,” explained Vergne. “First of all, you go slower, so your number of laps are lower because you are not limited by the number of laps but by time, so you reduce one lap.
“When you reduce one lap you have more energy available, and then on top of that, on the full course yellow or safety car, you drive slow, so you save a lot of energy.
“The drivers don’t energy save anymore and they go flat out.
“Mexico [City] was a good race because there was no safety car. The red flag but then there was time added after, which was in a way a good thing.
“If there is a Formula E race with no safety car, then yes it’s fine. But as long as we have a safety car [period], you don’t need to save energy anymore and that’s what I said is not Formula E.”
Vergne stressed that through energy regeneration, Formula E can showcase its potential for efficiency, a road relevant selling point for the manufacturers involved in the series.
“When you look at the manufacturers in electric racing, the argument of sale is how far the car and go and how much the car can regenerate, and by having energy save it shows what is the best technology to regenerate the most energy, and that’s why it’s important for Formula E to save energy.”
Vergne advocated for keeping energy conservation as a core part of Formula E back at the Mexico City ePrix, where a crash involving Jaguar Racing’s Nelson Piquet Jr. brought out a lengthy red flag.
That race subsequently restarted with 13 minutes added to the race time to make up for the lost time under the red flag.
“Nearly no drivers now are doing any energy saving laps, so it means that to overtake – it becomes impossible. So what you’re trying is – you are trying even harder, so then you create a crash and then of course there’s a safety car,” said Vergne at the time.
“So maybe I lost the memo – that I thought Formula E is all about energy saving – at least in those years – maybe in the future it would be different.
“I hope it would change because that’s not Formula E anymore. It’s like any other kind of series where you go full throttle from the beginning of the race until the end.”
Images: FIA Formula E
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