McLaren driver Rene Rast explains: That's why Formula E's Gen3 car is so "brutally difficult" to drive
Formula E has always been demanding for racing drivers. Even the best drivers reported that from the very beginning. But the new Gen3 car takes it up a notch. McLaren driver Rene Rast explains why it is so difficult to succeed with the powerful electric race car.
For five races, Formula E has been using the new Gen3 car. In addition to completely new technology upgrades such as a fast-charging capability or the regular abandonment of a brake on the rear axle, Formula E has optimized all essential values. "The Gen3 car has much more power. We're talking about 100 kW at peak. The car now has almost 500 hp," Rast told 'Auto Bild', citing one of the evolutionary steps.
"It has now become very fast and also very hard to drive. But that also makes it tricky in the corners. It's also super hard to drive the car at the limit. The car is moving all the time, you don't have much grip," explains the German, who admits, "Formula E is - even if some don't like to hear it - one of the toughest racing series I've driven so far."
Formula E has also become more physically demanding in its third generation of vehicles, which several drivers have already confirmed. For example, the world championship leader, Pascal Wehrlein, said after the "double-header" in Diriyya: "It really is significantly more strenuous than in the past. Power steering would not be such a bad idea for the future. Rast also thinks: "The steering wheel is just brutally heavy, because we don't have power steering in Formula E."
Formula E is also taking a different approach to tires than most other racing series. Instead of slicks, which various drivers are now demanding, all-weather tread tires are used, which are not only significantly more slippery: "There is only a very small window in which the tire works optimally," Rast explains. "One small mistake and you're off the racing line and immediately in the wall."
Efficient driving poses further challenge.
There is also another factor in Formula E: maximum efficiency. Drivers must make the best use of their available energy in the battery and always recuperate energy when braking to get to the finish line (as quickly as possible). "If you were to drive a Formula E car at full throttle constantly, you might get 20 minutes. But we have to get 40 minutes," Rast said.
"That's why we have to try to burn as little energy as possible and at the same time recover as much energy as possible via recuperation," says the 36-year-old. "The driver has to control all of this himself during the race. That adds another extremely difficult factor."
Despite all the difficulties, Rene Rast has proven he can tame the Gen3 car. After a first podium with McLaren in Saudi Arabia, he scored important points again most recently in South Africa in fourth place. He also currently has his highly talented teammate Jake Hughes under control. The next "ride on the razor's edge" awaits him in just under two weeks on March 25. That's when Formula E makes its first guest appearance in Sao Paulo, Brazil.