Formula E

Video: Pimped Formula E car with all-wheel drive breaks indoor speed record in London

Timo Pape

Timo Pape

Formula E has improved the indoor land speed world record for vehicles by more than 50 km/h. Driving a modified Gen3 race car called GENBETA, McLaren driver Jake Hughes reached a top speed of more than 218 km/h on the Formula E track at London's ExCeL exhibition hall on Tuesday night (July 25, 2023).

Hughes achieved the official Guinness World Record in an acceleration duel against fellow Mahindra driver Lucas di Grassi in the same GENBETA vehicle on a 346-meter straight indoor track section. Both had already beaten the previous world record of 165.2 km/h set in February 2021 in all three practice runs prior to their official world record attempts.

In his official fourth run, Hughes eventually hit a top speed of 218.71 km/h, setting the new world record mark before di Grassi took to the track. However, the Brazilian narrowly failed and set a top speed of "only" 217.65 km/h in his official fourth run. Under ideal conditions and open skies, Formula E's Gen3 car can reach a top speed of up to 322 km/h.

A Guinness World Records assessor monitored the trials to ensure drivers met the strict criteria. To set the official indoor land speed record, the GENBETA vehicle had to start from a standstill and come to a stop again inside a building structure. Speeds were measured just five meters before the braking zone - just enough to stop inside the building.

All-wheel drive, tyre & aerodynamic upgrades enable record

The GENBETA car the two drivers used to chase the record featured a number of modifications to maximize the potential of the current Gen3 car. Power was increased from 350 to 400 kW by also activating the front powertrain for propulsion. Thus, for the first time ever, a Formula E car had four-wheel drive.

At the same time, Hankook provided a new, softer tyre compound of its iON Race for the record attempt, which allowed for faster warm-up and better grip. And aerodynamic upgrades were also made: 3D-printed front wing end panels, wheel fins and a wind deflector optimized the GENBETA's straight-line performance and speed.

Formula E video: Jake Hughes sets speed record in London


"GENBETA shows what will be possible in Formula E in the near future"

"Driving the GENBETA car and setting the Guinness World Record for the highest speed of a vehicle indoors was a very special experience," Hughes says. "I didn't realize how badly I wanted this record until I saw Lucas trying to break the record after me. I feel very honoured to have been asked and to have been involved in such an exciting project."

Jeff Dodds, Formula E's new CEO, is pleased that Hughes and di Grassi have shown "the incredible potential of electric vehicles." "Everyone involved in the GENBETA project has the same goal: to pioneer innovation and development of electric vehicle technologies."

Alessandra Ciliberti, Technical Manager Formula E at the FIA, gives a glimpse of the future of the electric series: "In the GENBETA, for the first time in a single-seater (...) the front powertrain has also been used to achieve better traction during acceleration. The GENBETA shows what will be possible in Formula E in the near future."

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