Formula E

Comment: Formula E must reduce long breaks between qualifying duels

Timo Pape

Timo Pape

The "new" Formula E qualifying system introduced for season 8 is popular. It often provides exciting duels and gives the best drivers a fair chance of securing a good grid position. Nevertheless, qualifying is also characterised by long breaks during which the spectators don't get to see any action. Can Formula E change this?

The first long break takes place after the group stage. Further interruptions lasting several minutes follow after the four quarter-finals and two semi-final duels. During this time, Formula E tries to keep the audience entertained with interviews or analyses.

But why are there these long interruptions at all? "There are two main reasons for the breaks," Fred Espinos, Sporting Director at the German Formula E team ABT Cupra, explains to "One is to give everyone enough time to cool the battery." After a push lap with the full 350 kW of power, the battery needs a few minutes to return to the optimum temperature window for the next attempt.

The second reason for the breaks is of a purely organisational nature: "Race control needs a buffer between sessions in case of an accident or a red flag in order to finish the final on time," explains Espinos.

Safety buffer for race control

Why does qualifying have to end on time? According to the regulations, a minimum time of three hours must be maintained between qualifying and the race. "With the gaps between the sessions, the race director therefore has a certain amount of flexibility, which he is sometimes more than happy about," says Espinos.

The ABT manager is alluding to potential accidents in qualifying that result in longer interruptions. It was only in Diriyah that Sebastien Buemi crashed into the TecPro barrier, which then had to be repaired for several minutes. The teams sometimes also use the three hours until the start of the race for car repairs in the event of a qualifying crash.

We do not know the exact reasons behind the three-hour rule. Some are obvious - such as the scheduled programme during an E-Prix. However, we consider the problem of losing live viewers during a broadcast to be more important.

Probably no quick fix for battery temperature problem

There is unlikely to be a quick solution to the battery problem. The option of additional external cooling will certainly have been considered by those responsible for a long time. However, an adjustment should be made at the latest with the new battery for the Gen4 vehicles if possible.

The new battery manufacturer Podium Advanced Technologies must ensure that the battery can last several push laps in a row without one of the two duel participants, who has had less break time to cool down, being at a disadvantage due to its battery temperature.

It looks like fans will have to continue to accept the long interruptions and be patient for the time being. However, Formula E should definitely take a close look at this issue with a view to the future and try to reduce the long breaks.

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