To-do list: 5 things Formula E needs to change as soon as possible
Formula E has made a solid start to its Gen3 era. After a successful - if not spectacular - start in Mexico, the two night races in Saudi Arabia offered some entertainment and also a bit more overtaking maneuvers. Nevertheless, there are still a few construction sites for Formula E, some of which it should address as soon as possible..
1. rearview mirrors increase.
Already during pre-season testing in Valencia, some drivers had been critical of the rear-view mirrors on the new Gen3 cars. "It's difficult to see anything because the fairing sways and the rear wheels are in the way," Nico Müller said at the time. "We can't race with it. That's something that needs to be changed," McLaren driver Rene Rast also thought.
At the Diriyya E-Prix, the issue boiled up again when there was almost a collision between Pascal Wehrlein and Sergio Sette Camara in qualifying. The Brazilian drove at walking pace towards the final corner to start his fast lap. However, Wehrlein rushed up from behind with great excess speed and just managed to pass Sette Camara on the inside. A dangerous scene that fortunately had a mild outcome. The Nio 333 driver then angrily radioed his team that he had not been able to see the Porsche because of the new rearview mirrors.
"It doesn't need a big change. You just need to make it a bit higher," Lucas di Grassi suggests on 'The Race'. That's exactly what Formula E should do ahead of the upcoming race in Hyderabad. A small intervention that can ensure the safety of drivers in similar situations.
2. Use LEDs wisely.
As 'e-Formel.de' has learned, the colors of the LEDs on the Gen3 car "have no technical significance - apart from making the cars stand out better. During testing in Valencia, we also tried purple and white stripes. But the standard should always be blue by now," Formula E told us.
In the Gen2 era, the LEDs also had an informative use: If they lit up blue, fans knew: The driver is currently in attack mode. If he activated his FANBOOST (which no longer exists), the LEDs flashed purple. In normal race mode, they were off. On the Gen3 car, they now glow solid blue. Looks good, yes.
But it makes it hard for fans to tell if a pilot is running with extra power in Attack mode. For the life of us, it's hard to see why Formula E doesn't use at least two different colors, for example blue in race mode and purple in attack mode. Technically, this would be a conceivably simple task that would literally shed light on the matter.
3. Increase attack mode duration.
While pilots still have to activate their Attack Mode twice per race, as was mostly the case in the Gen2 era. However, the total duration has been greatly reduced. Currently, the drivers are only allowed to drive for a total of four minutes with the additional power - about half compared to before. As a result, there are fewer overtaking maneuvers and less action on the track.
Yes, the current situation is only a temporary solution until the new "attack charge" is introduced later in the season - a combination of attack mode with the planned fast-charge pit stops. However, we are likely to see at least five more races in the current mode. So why is Formula E so conservative? We're hoping for an extension, even if it's only six minutes total. Every minute more helps.
4. Order faster tires.
The Gen3 car is slower than its predecessor - despite significantly more power and less weight. One of the main reasons for this is the much harder tires compared to last year. We have already examined possible solutions in detail in a separate commentary: Either the tires must become softer, or Formula E will be given slicks and proper rain tires.
Of course, such a change cannot be implemented as easily and at short notice as, say, higher rearview mirrors or flashing LEDs. Nonetheless, Formula E needs to make a decision as early as possible so that manufacturer Hankook can be commissioned accordingly.
By the way, according to our information, Formula E and the FIA still had tests with an alternative - presumably softer - rubber compound until shortly before the Valencia test drives. In the end, however, they opted for the original harder tread tire. Perhaps the alternative compound would even be a short-term solution for the current season?
5. Improve media relations again
In the first years of Formula E, the work between the series and media representatives:inside was characterized by mutual respect and understanding. Despite being a start-up - or perhaps because of it - there was always an effort to be professional in communications. After eight years, not much of that has remained. This is not only our opinion, but also that of numerous colleagues from Germany and abroad.
Recent examples of this: Press conferences without sound signal (apparently without anyone even noticing), delayed or not even started livestreams, no more possibility for journalists to ask questions during official press conferences. The fact that the media department only manages to answer a simple question after ten days and the third time it has been asked is also a source of frustration. We don't know what the reasons are for Formula E's downward communications spiral. Only that it is becoming increasingly difficult to do one's job well as an independent medium.