2018/19 Formula E: New era, new cars and innovations

While it’s only been a few months since we crowned DS Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne as the ABB FIA Formula E’s new champion, the 2018/19 season – which kicks off in Saudi Arabia on December 15 – promises to be the most exciting yet with a new cars, new drivers, new rules and new innovations taking to the track.

Attack Mode

Increasing the intensity of the on-track action is Attack Mode – a unique innovation in sport, introduced to enhance the fan spectacle and retain the unpredictable nature of electric street racing series.

New for this season, drivers will be able to access Attack Mode at any time during the race from the second lap – allowing them to chase down their rivals or build a lead to defend their position. Attack Mode temporarily boosts power levels from 200kW (in standard race mode) to 225kW, giving them the edge on their opponents for a short period of time.

With all 22 drivers engaging Attack Mode at one point during the race, the precise time period and amount of activations will be determined by the FIA – motorsport’s governing body – ahead of the race, meaning it’s up to the teams and drivers to decide the strategy.

In order to engage Attack Mode, the driver must pass through a defined activation zone placed off the racing line. The driver is required to arm Attack Mode on the steering wheel on the approach to the activation zone and manoeuvre through three timing sensors to complete the loop and receive instant power.

To help fans follow Attack Mode, the Formula E host broadcast will incorporate Virtual Reality – with the activation zone rendered on the track as a tied to field graphic. The cutting-edge technology will harness trackside camera tracking, live telemetry data and powerful graphics engines to help bring audiences closer to the action.

While the drivers’ will lose time – and possibly positions – in the short term by moving away from the fastest racing line around the track, they’ll have the opportunity to make up any lost ground and overtake with an immediate power advantage.

For the fans, the different power modes will be denoted using florescent LED lights embedded in the halo above the driver’s head, making it easier to follow all the action as and when it happens. When the LED lights glow electric blue, the car will be in Attack Mode (225kW), changing to magenta when deploying FanBoost (240kW to 250kW).

“For someone who’s been with the series since pretty much the start, I’ve personally seen how Formula E has taken big strides – not only with the performance of the car, but by implementing new ideas that continue to promote close racing such as Attack Mode,” said reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah).

“We had a small taster of Attack Mode during the pre-season test in Valencia, but it’s hard to say what it’ll be like when we go racing from the simulations we did then.

“I think we’re all very curious to find out and it’s not long to go now until Ad Diriyah. I think the biggest question around Attack Mode will be when to use it and when to conserve energy in comparison to who’s around you on track. It’s a guessing game and it’s going to lead to some exciting and unpredictable results.”

After we bid an epic farewell to our Gen1 car at the end of the 2017/18 season, we’re welcoming in the competitive debut of the radical new Gen2 car.

Alongside a dramatic new look, there’s wholesale changes to the components underneath the bodywork – continuing to set Formula E apart as the most relevant championship in motorsport for the automotive industry.

Despite the cars lasting the whole length of the race, the introduction of a range of new power modes makes the racing all the more unpredictable as all 22 drivers battle it out to the finish line against the 45-minute (+1 lap) race countdown. It’s all about energy management.

“Formula E broke the mould by being the first to go electric – so it’s clear we aren’t scared of trying new things,” said Formula E Founder and CEO Alejandro Agag.

“Whether that’s introducing new on-track innovations or tweaking the format of the race, or creating new ways for fans to follow or interact with the sport. I’m eager to see the competitive debut of the Gen2 car and Attack Mode in action during a race scenario on the tight and challenging street circuits that have come to define our series.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time and this is the year where the ABB FIA Formula E Championship comes of age,” added Agag.

Note: On this site, we will provide Formula E race reports and news of interests from the series on a need to basis going forward.