With the start of season five and the introduction of its second generation electric racer just a few weeks away, Formula E has revealed more details of its new “Attack Mode” power boost, which will augment the returning “FanBoost” as a way of increasing strategic options for the drivers during the races.
The series’ new Gen2 cars (pictured) enable drivers to run the full distance without the car swap necessary in the previous cars despite providing an increase in power, while utilizing a range of power modes to efficiently manage the battery life over the 45-minute (+1 lap) race, allowing for more strategic variables.
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 position. Attack Mode temporarily boosts power levels from the standard race mode of 200kW to 225kW for a short period of time.
It will be mandatory for drivers to use Attack Mode during each race, with the precise time period and amount of activations to be determined by the FIA — with the potential to adjust depending on the track layout and configuration.
In order to initiate 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 maneuver 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. This technology will harness trackside camera tracking, live telemetry data and powerful graphic engines to help tell the story of the race.
Drivers will initially lose time — and possibly positions — moving away from the fastest racing line around the track. However, they’ll quickly have the opportunity to make up any lost ground and overtake with an immediate power advantage.
The different power modes will be denoted using florescent LED lights adorning the halo above the driver’s head — another new innovation aimed at improving the viewing experience for fans. The LED lights will glow blue when the car is in Attack Mode (225kW), changing to magenta when deploying FanBoost (240kW to 250kW).
DS Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne, reigning series champion, said the new power boost will likely be a complicated challenge to sort out, in terms of how best to utilize it, and could lead to some surprise results for the new season, which begins December 15 in Ad Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
“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,” he noted. “As drivers, we want to be able to race hard and the fans want that too. 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.”