Formula E’s pre-season testing for Season 9 is underway, with teams and drivers getting their first chance to get hold of the new Gen3 cars all week in Valencia, Spain.
The faster, lighter vehicles mark a new era in championship motorsport, the third iteration of electric vehicles in less than a decade since the series’ inception.
In 2023, the race will be held in new venues including Sao Paulo, Brazil and Hyderabad, India – but keeping the weekend on the US calendar is key to the sport’s continued growth and potential. To make a significant impact on a key population.
That’s the opinion of Avalanche Andretti’s team principal, Roger Griffiths, who, along with the number of fans out there, and the size of the addressable EV market in the U.S., make it an important foundation for continued involvement in the championship. One of the principles of Formula E is to promote the importance and reliability of EVs, especially in cities and urban areas affected by pollution.
“It’s very important that we are represented in America, not just for Andretti, but for Formula E as a whole,” Griffiths said in Valencia. “We’ve seen how other championships are expanding in the US, which is not only one of the largest car markets in the world, but also one of the largest EV markets in the world.
“If you look at where EV companies are headquartered, they’re all on the West Coast. I think it’s important to get a foothold there. Portland, Oregon has been producing some amazing races in IndyCar, which has the perfect feel of a street circuit nature, so it fits the car and engages a different fan base on the East Coast than New York. 🇧🇷
While the dual nature of Formula E – the right to race – is important for teams and organizers to balance the appeal of the championship with the ideals behind EVs and sustainability, there is another important aspect when it comes to attracting fans.
As driver Lucas di Grassi notes, it’s quite simple: the quality of the race, the driving skills and the speed on display.
In that respect, the Mahindra Racing driver now believes the FE is number one.
“The level of drivers in Formula E is unmatched in motorsport. From the beginning, we had great riders who won everything in their junior careers,” he said in pre-season testing. “Now we have Nick. [de Vries] The guy who finished ninth last year went to Formula 1 and did a fantastic job, and few people come from Formula 1 and don’t do a fantastic job.
“The car is the hardest thing I’ve ever driven in my life. The tracks are very difficult and now this year we have an extra challenge because the cars have more power, the tires have less grip and every detail counts. Everything is different and the level of the championship is very high. In terms of technology, everything in this car is very positive.
“If we let the powertrain run at full power, this car will go faster than a Formula 1 car. Formula E has a lot of potential and we’ve come a long way since season one.”
Envision team principal Sylvain Filippi also backed Di Grassi’s view of the design’s progress in the championship.
“Technology is so advanced now that we’re doing things with this car that weren’t on the road. That’s the whole point of Formula E, you’re really pushing the boundaries to develop and improve the car. The main reason we’re in Formula E is to improve this technology and deliver exciting racing,” he said.
“I’m excited about the speed of these cars. The racing has always been good, very competitive and very exciting for the fans, I don’t see why it would be any different in January. Yes, all items are available. We are working a lot, and it takes a lot of work to prepare the new generation, but we are very excited.
Separately, Formula E has announced a new tire sponsor for five rounds of racing. Hankook Tire will showcase EV racing tires at the E-Prix races in Mexico City, Rome and London in Season 9 – the latter two double-headers.
In line with FE’s comprehensive mandate, the high-performance EV racing tires on the Gen3 race car will be made from 26% sustainable rubber materials that will be fully recycled at the end of their useful life.
Formula E CEO Jamie Reigle highlighted the “high performance and stability” of the bespoke developed tyres. [for] EV Racing”, which means “fans can expect even more intimate and dramatic wheel-to-wheel racing at all city center circuits”.
::The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship returns for the Mexico City E-Prix on Saturday 14 January, with races live on Channel 4 and Eurosport throughout the season.
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