The new season Formula E cars are already faster than last year’s inaugural season cars as Sébastien Buemi has broken his own lap record during day two of the official FIA Formula E test day, held at Donington Park.
Driving his Renault-e.dams, the Swissman set a fastest lap time of 1:31.050s, beating last year’s best performance of 1:31.083s. The lap time was set using the full 200kW power output, available to drivers for setting rapid qualifying times. He said:
“It was a bit of a scrappy lap, but it’s difficult to do a perfect lap around here. I think we could go a second quicker, maybe even into the 1m29s. I’m quite happy but we are really only at the start of the new package. Now we need to work on the details of the package. We could do quite a bit on the car and the car is a bit easier to drive, the stability is better, the brakes are better. I see some good potential, we just need to extract it from the car.”
Although this may be an early indication that Renault are ahead of the game with regards to speed, the complexity of electric racing means these lap times are almost insignificant in reality. Battery power management will likely play a large part in actual races, where outright power does not bring the car home.
Unfortunately for many of the teams, various technical issues meant many cars remained sat in their garages. NEXTEV TCR and Trulli were both unable to drive while mechanics and engineers fettled and fine tuned their cars.
Speaking to Williams Advanced Engineering’s (WAE) Okan Tur, he said of the development of the batteries for season two:
“Since the last season finished, the batteries have been in a refresh program. We are working towards increasing the power levels for the second season, which hopefully we’ll start testing from the last two days of testing here at Donington Park. There are software calibration differences for each of the powertrains and we’ve been working with the manufacturers on this since April.”
Despite a few technical setbacks for some teams, others appear to be favouring the new setups with Venturi gaining experience from four cars rather than two, since they supply Dragon Racing for season two. Jerome D’Ambrosio, for Dragon Racing said:
“We made some improvements since yesterday. It’s still too early to tell where we are in terms of performance, but we’re pretty good for reliability. We’re using the Venturi powertrain and it seems like we have a good package but really time will tell. We’re working well together. It’s an evolution from last year and we know how much we’ve gained, but we don’t know how much the other teams have gained. The real answer will come towards the end of the tests, but really in Beijing.”
Season two also brings with it not only changes to the motors, but also to the track calendar with Paris being confirmed in the line-up for the first time. D’Ambrosio added:
“Of course I’m looking forward to Paris, I love the city and I have lots of friends there. Les Invalides should be quite a spectacular place for the race.”
From another source close to the race organisers, AutoVolt was also informed that the as yet unconfirmed races could be at either Mexico City or San Francisco. While this may remain speculative for the moment, Mexico City has reportedly been keen to embrace the electric formula although it may be at a circuit rather than in the streets of the city.
At the end of Formula E testing day two, it remains uncertain which team has the best package. Okan Tur added:
“I think it will be interesting to see which one of the different solutions will present itself as the best. There are single motors and dual motors and some with gears and some without. Which one comes out on top will be interesting to see.”
With everything still to play for and Buemi having already broken last year’s best lap time at Donington Park, the only thing clear is that Formula E has progressed into a true racing championship with everything still to play for.
FIA Formula E at Donington Park Pre-season testing (Day 2) Photo Gallery
FIA Formula E at Donington Park Pre-season testing (Day 2) Results
- Sebastien Buemi, Renault e.dams, 1:31.050s
- Sam Bird, DS Virgin Racing, +0.419s
- Daniel Abt, ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, +0.487s
- Nick Heidfeld, Mahindra Racing, +0.491s
- Nicolas Prost, Renault e.dams, +0.542s
- Bruno Senna, Mahindra Racing, +0.819s
- Loic Duval, DRAGON RACING, +0.865s
- Stephane Sarrazin, Venturi, +0.951s
- Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Virgin Racing, +0.983s
- Tom Dillmann, Team Aguri, +1.319s
- Jerome D’Ambrosio, DRAGON RACING, +3.905s
- Jacques Villeneuve, Venturi, +5.865s
- Nelson Piquet Jr, NEXTEV TCR, no time set
- Jarno Trulli, Trulli, no time set
- Simona de Silvestro, Andretti, no time set
- Oliver Turvey, NEXTEV TCR, no time set