9 ePrix down, 7 more to go: it’s already mid-season for Formula E! Unlike in the very first races, Envision Racing is now leading both the Constructors’ and Drivers’ championship after the Monaco E-Prix and emerges as a clear threat for the title against Porsche. Everything is still up for grabs but now it’s already time for a one-month break.
Let’s see what were the championship highlights up to now!
With the first part of the season completed, it is now time to take stock of how the new generation of cars is performing.
GEN3 era cars are proving to be more exciting than expected after their first few track appearances. The driving dynamics in races have undergone significant changes, and so have driving techniques. The maximum power output has increased from 250 to 350 kW, and, in response to requests from the FIA and the teams, Hankook has developed tougher, less high-performing tires. As a result, drivers have to exert more effort in handling the car, with greater emphasis placed on the human factor.
“We have a lot of power and at the same time less grip from the tires” said Mitch Evans before the Monaco E-Prix. “The combination of more power and less grip can be unpredictable, especially on wet tracks like it was in Berlin. You have to be very careful with the throttle”, he continued.
A major improvement is in the braking. The GEN3 cars may be more unstable and unpredictable, but it is easier to interpret the braking, especially on wet surfaces.
Cassidy is in the lead
TAG Heuer Porsche seemed to dominate the first three events of Season 9 with their powerful Porsche powertrains. However, one driver, Nick Cassidy of Envision Racing, consistently found himself in the leading pack. Although Cassidy had a slow start to the GEN3 era, his luck changed when the series headed to Hyderabad.
Cassidy’s recent performances have been outstanding: a third-place finish in Cape Town, two second-place finishes in Hyderabad and São Paulo, and consecutive victories in Berlin and Monaco.
The latter came despite significant braking issues during Free Practice sessions and a ninth position in qualifying. Cassidy persevered and fought his way through the field to secure his third Formula E victory.
These results have propelled Cassidy to the top of the Drivers’ World Championship, with 121 points and a comfortable 20-point lead over Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein. With seven races left in the season, Cassidy is now the favorite to win the championship.
Where is Porsche now?
The first few races of the season were of uncontested dominance for Pascal Wehrlein: especially in Diriyah, where he won both race-1 and race-2. But with the latest extremely unsatisfactory performances, Wehrlein has dropped to second position in the standings. The German driver said he wasn’t comfortable with the car’s balance, whose search was hindered by a technical issue in FP1 that prevented adequate track time.
But the improvements from Porsche aren’t over. During an interview, team representative Florian Modlinger was asked to comment on the recent change in the hierarchy of the Formula E teams, where Jaguar have been collecting more points since February, as opposed to Porsche’s dominance in Mexico City and Riyadh. In response, Modlinger acknowledged that Porsche has a fast car, but mentioned that in Monaco it was their customer team, Avalanche Andretti, that showed them the way.
“In my opinion, from the performance and the package we have, we can fight with them, they can fight with us. We need to make sure we collect the points and bring the results home. That’s clear, but it’s not like something is changing now, because when you look back to the races at the beginning of the season, Jaguar were stronger in terms of performance, they just did not bring the points home.”Florian Modlinger, Porsche team representative
Jaguar and Envision Racing: the spotlight
One key to the turnaround of Jaguar’s championship campaign is their collaborative effort to bring improvements to their cars. But their presence is not coincidental. In fact, Jaguar and Envision Racing do not hide the intense communication and data exchange between each other.
On the one hand, over the long haul, the relationship is accelerating the software development of the powertrain. On the other hand, on the track, Jaguar can count on four cars running simultaneously, doubling the useful information collected to find the optimal balance. This has been confirmed several times by the respective teams, and lately by Cassidy himself, who said last weekend: “We always work with four cars.” Cassidy and Evans have thus made up ground from the midfield, on a day when all title rivals were at the back. Once they took the lead, the two set a relatively high pace early on, catching their opponents off guard.
Mitch Evans’ hope
Mitch Evans himself is now fourth in the drivers’ standings, having scored consistent top-4 finishes in the last four races and winning both in São Paulo and in race-1 in Berlin.
Experience teaches us that, in recent years, collaborations between an official manufacturer and a customer team have been mutually profitable. The best example was the relationship between Mercedes and Venturi. But now that they are both fighting for the title, what will happen to their collaboration?
Mitch Evans commented on the matter, saying: “At the moment, both teams are in a good position, but I’m not sure how the collaboration will be managed. The exchange of information so far has been very good, so I don’t see a reason to change the relationship, but we’ve never been in this situation before. It could be a nice dilemma.”
We can only but enjoy the last part of the season, which will surely be full of surprises and unexpected events as this year’s Formula has accustomed us to!