Sat. Jan 28th, 2023

THE 2023 Formula E World
Championship kicks off this weekend
in Mexico City, and season nine of the allelectric
series brings huge changes with it.
In a category that has always majored on
unpredictability, the combination of new
Gen 3 cars that are faster but trickier to
drive than their predecessors, a fresh tyre
supplier, new teams and a merry-go-round
of driver transfers means that predicting
who will finish the season as champion
is harder than ever before.
If a driver wants to take the spoils at
the end of the 16-race series, the first thing
they will need to get used to is the latest
Formula E car. The Gen 3 model boasts
some radical changes over its predecessor,
and these start with the electric motor.
This now produces 350 kilowatts; that’s
469bhp and an increase of 134bhp over
the Gen 2 car. Combine this with a shorter
chassis that’s 60kg lighter, and this all
contributes to a car that can theoretically
top out at 200mph – although that’s an
unlikely figure for the cars to reach on the
tight and twisty street circuits that make
up the Formula E calendar.
It should result in a significant reduction
in lap times, but early testing in Valencia
has revealed the new car to be tricky to drive
on the limit. Combined with teams and
drivers getting to grips not only with a new
car, but also with fresh tyres (Hankook has
now replaced Michelin as the official
supplier for Formula E), the lap times
recorded in testing didn’t show quite
the increase in performance that some
people had been predicting.
The racers will be more efficient than ever
before, though. While the new cars feature
motors on both axles, the front motor
doesn’t drive the wheels; instead, it can
recoup energy under braking to put back
into the battery. A staggering 40 per cent of
the car’s energy will be supplied this way
through the race, and this ability to employ
brake regen on both axles means that the
mechanical brakes will hardly be used in
the course of a race. So little will they be
used, in fact, there are no disc brakes on
the car’s rear axle at all.
There are big changes among the teams
in this year’s series, too. After reigning
champion Mercedes withdrew, the Silver
Arrows’ operation has been taken over by
McLaren. With Nyck de Vries moving to
Formula 1 with Williams, and 2021/2022
Champion Stoffell Vandoorne signing for
DS Penske (last year’s Dragon Penske
squad), the new team will be lining up with
Rene Rast and Jake Hughes for this season.
While one illustrious racing manufacturer
leaves the sport, another joins it. Maserati
is making its Formula E debut, taking the
place of the Venturi team – and pre-season
testing has shown that the squad has huge
pace. Eduardo Mortara, who finished in
third position in last year’s championship,
will hope to deliver similar speed this year,
while Maximilian Gunther, who has moved
over from Nissan, was top in all but one
session in the Valencia winter test.
Other driver changes since last season
include Antonio Felix da Costa, who has
moved from DS to Porsche, replacing Andre
Lotterer (now at Andretti), and Sebastien
Mexico race raises curtain
Buemi, who moves from Nissan to the
Envision Racing squad.
In fact, the only team to maintain the
same driver line-up coming into the new
season is Jaguar. The British squad, in a
new black and white livery, retains Brit
Sam Bird – his 11 race victories put him
third on the Formula E all-time win list –
and Mitch Evans. The Kiwi had a fabulous
season last year, narrowly missing out on
the world title, eventually conceding to
Vandoorne in the final race of the season.
Speaking to Auto Express at the reveal
of the Jaguar I-Type 6 in December, team
boss James Barclay was keen to build on
its strong performance.
“I am incredibly proud of what we
achieved last season,” said Barclay. “We
had our biggest points haul to date, but we
know we can do better, and we are here to
compete for the World Championship. We
are confident in the Jaguar I-Type 6 and in
the strength of our talented team, and I look
forward to what this season will bring.”
However, Bird was one of the drivers to
exercise caution because of the new Gen 3
car’s behaviour. “She’s tricky to drive,” he
said. “That’s not because of issues with

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