Breaking down the excitements around the Jakarta E-Prix.
This weekend we are welcoming Jakarta as a new location for Formula E. The buzz has been building and it’s time to really look at why this race is going to be special.
The racetrack – the Jakarta International E-Prix Circuit – is a first of its kind. It is a purpose built street style circuit just outside of the city build around the Ancol Beach City resort. In theme with Formula E’s green agenda, sponsor Allianz also sponsors the nearby Eco Park and there will be no onsite parking but the circuit is accessible by public transport, including cable car.
It’s not the first time Formula E finds itself racing on a track rather than a street circuit. The Mexico E-Prix is hosted at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez which Formula 1 also races on, albeit on a longer layout (almost double in length). Berlin’s Tempelhof airport has also been a valuable non-street track, especially when all of season 6 was contested there on a variety of layouts so as to be able to still host the championship despite COVID. However, the Jakarta International E-Prix Circuit is the first ever circuit fully purpose built with Formula E in mind, with a mix of tighter corners and longer sweeping sections.
We’re expecting to see some great racing this weekend, Jaguar TCS driver Mitch Evans highlights turn 1 as “probably the best overtaking spot of the whole track” as the track widens, allowing for some low-risk aggressive maneuvers. In a similar vein, Andre Lotterer (Porsche) showed us the colourful run-off area at turn 13 and his engineer joked“please don’t use it, that’s not in the plan”.
New tracks tend to be great equalisers as no one driver is more familiar, Mercedes EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne (current championship leader) discussed the difficulties of being unfamiliar with a track while familiarizing himself with the attack mode activation zone “quite an interesting place on the track, it’s going to be quite difficult to rejoin and actually see other cars come through the corner so we’re going to have to see how it goes”. Edo Mortara of Rokit Venturi builds on this by highlighting the importance of getting “the little things right” and the “need to find the right line into the attack mode”.
It’s exactly these “little things” that will make the racing in Jakarta incredibly exciting. We could potentially be seeing some of the front runners make little mistakes due to the challenging conditions. On Friday we’re seeing temperatures of 35 degrees and 100% humidity. Those who are familiar with Formula 1 will know that drivers specifically train in order to peak when they race in Singapore, where the humid and hot conditions are incredibly physically taxing.
These conditions are also going to be difficult on the cars: battery life and tyre degradation are predicted to be problematic. There have been occasions when cars struggled to make it to the end of the race, completing the last lap on 0% remaining charge. Battery management will definitely play into the way drivers approach this weekend and those with fanboost will need to take extra care in how they use it. Similarly, the hot track will cause the tyres to degrade much more quickly than a cooler track, the drivers will have to manage this degradation themselves as Formula E does not include mandatory pitstops, and a stop to change tyres would cause a driver to fall back. However, a tyre that is too worn, will lose grip and lead to mistakes such as losing the ideal racing line through a corner. Lucas Di Grassi (Rokit Venturi)gives us some insight on why missing a single apex can have a butterfly effect. “It’s very technical because if you miss one apex you will miss the next three, one corner combined to the next one. So it’s going to be fun.”. We sure are looking forward to watching the fun unfold!
The drivers are definitely getting excited, DeVries telling us that for him this is 25% of a home race, and Lotterer is just happy to be back in Asia for the first time since 2019. The local fans have been living in the buzz: the race has been a sell-out, whereas fans from home like myself, are waiting to see what action this new track may bring.
By Elisabeth Moro