- The race for the lead [Image: Motorsport]

Formula E Season Five: What’s new and do we like it?

It’s all change for Season Five of the Formula E World Championship. Check out what's new and whether it lived up to the hype in the Ad Diriyah ePrix

2y ago

Formula E, despite still being in its relative infancy, has proven pretty controversial. That said, the organisers are nothing if not fan centred so for the reboot Season Five, they have taken most of the things people said were letting the series down, and changed them to give a futuristic hive of overtaking and excitement. But, with the first race of the season complete, did any of it work?

Gen 2 Car

This is the most visible of the changes and if you’ve seen a better looking single seat car race in any series in the last five years, I’m keen to see it as I’m convinced it doesn’t exist!

Nicknamed the Bat Mobile, for obvious reasons, it has been designed to optimise aero performance on the twisty city circuits Formula E visits, whilst maintaining overtaking capacity. The simple front wing is built to cope with the turbulent air from cars in front which, in itself, has been minimised by cleaning up the air towards the rear end and enclosing the wheels.

The majority of the downforce comes from the floor of the car and the enormous diffuser which has been a real talking point since the cars were unveiled. Even the FIA’s mandatory safety device, the Halo, has been given a makeover with a light array that changes colour to indicate the mode that each of the cars are in. Here is a look at the differences between the Gen 1 and Gen 2 cars and, for the best shots you'll see of the new cars, check out Phaceless Photographer's testing compilation.

The aesthetics are only half of the story with the Gen 2 car as the performance has undergone a complete overhaul too. With double the capacity and efficiency of the Gen 1, gone are the midrace car swaps, full race distance is more than achievable in these cars.

Power output has shot up to 250kW in the highest setting allowing a theoretical top speed of 174mph and, with a 0-60 time of 2.8 seconds, they are properly quick. Each team develops their own motor to deliver the power and getting the power onto the track is where time can really be made or lost. All new brakes and suspension mean it's an entirely new beast.


If they went out of their way to ensure the cars were like nothing you’ve ever seen before, you’d have to say they’ve followed a similar ethos with the race format. The race is now timed, 45 minutes +1 lap but without the need for a mid race car swap, there was a real risk that Season Five would be a series of sprint races with no strategic options at all.

Their solution – Attack Mode.

[Image: Formula E]

[Image: Formula E]

Attack mode gives drivers an extra 25kW of power for a period of the race to allow them to gain an advantage on those around them. The price of this? They need to drive significantly off line through an activation zone on the track in order to make use of it. This puts them at a short term disadvantage, losing time and potentially places, but gives them four minutes of boost to make up for it.

To keep it interesting, all drivers must use it twice in every race. There’s no running off into the distance without the offline jeopardy of Attack Mode, its mandatory and in case you miss them coming through the activation mode, the driver’s Halo array turns blue for the entire time it’s active.

The activation zone will change at every circuit and only be made known a short time before the race to keep an element of unknown heading into the event.

Its here to stay!

Its here to stay!

We know it and love it. Ok, not everyone loves it, but its here to stay! One week before each ePrix, you can cast a daily vote for your favourite driver. Voting closes 15 minutes into the race and the top five drivers (previously three) receive a 15 second 50kW boost in power to use in the second half of the race for either attack of defence.

Call it a gimmick if you like but for a series who are determined to get the fans engaged and involved, it’s a brilliant idea and hugely important, not to mention successful! If it wasn’t clear from the massive increase in pace, you’ll know they are using it when the Halo turns pink.

Did it work?

In a word, yes!

Any fears that the strategic element of the car swap may be missed were instantly dispelled when the Nio guys activated attack mode and managed to make some passes stick. It was a nice additional feature for those struggling to keep up but, in fairness, the racing was pretty active without it. The timing of it’s use was interesting, many opting to negate the initial disadvantage (thought to be around 1.2 seconds on this occasion) and activate it under the safety car so they could either get it out the way if it wasn’t needed or gamble on having it for when the safety car came in. It also meant that there was a flurry of activation in the closing stages to ensure it was fully used, so the racing in the final laps was massively tense.

Then there was Pechito who, despite his best efforts, missed the activation zone entirely on two separate occasions before retiring with suspension that may have given up of its own accord to avoid the shame! A peril i'm sure nobody thought of, realised in Race 1!

When you think attack mode means attack the wall [Image: Fox]

When you think attack mode means attack the wall [Image: Fox]

The cars looked just as fierce on track as they do up close, with the added addition of the Halo arrays which was stunning in action. For a device that has been branded ugly and hailed a disaster in other series, Formula E has done a brilliant job of integrating it with the design of the chassis and really making it something beautiful.

The cars were visibly quicker too. If you've watched any of the Gen 1 racing, you cant fail to notice how much nippier these cars are and how much of the race they were able to push for. Yes, there was a full course yellow which will have banked them some energy but with most finishing with over 10% left in the battery, you have to think they’d have been pushing for the bulk of the time anyway.

No energy saving, no tyre saving, just exactly what fans have been asking for – 45 minutes of flat out racing. Glorious.

Let us know what you thought of the new features and of the Ad Diriyah ePrix

The next race is in Marrakesh on January 12th 🇲🇦

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Comments (11)

  • Shoutout!

      2 years ago
  • I would be up for them driving across WipeOut style boost pads! Or like the ones in Mario Kart...

    I really enjoyed the new format - I think the cars look great, the racing seemed much more entertaining than last year (though I think that will be very track dependent. I get why they race on street circuits, but I don't think they produce the best racing), and I liked the strategy element of attack mode. Especially when it came to gambling as to whether the drivers would still have some left waiting on the safety car to come in.

    The only issue I had was with the production - the camera choices didn't always seem like the best angle to see the action, lots of on track action was missed and half the time no one had any idea what was going on (like with the penalties etc.). On the bright side, that's all stuff that can be easily fixed as opposed to there being a problem with the racing or cars themselves

    I did thoroughly enjoy them going back to the attack mode activation lines in the hope that they would finally get a driver going over it and not managing to for the first half of the race.

      2 years ago
    • And then managing to capture Pechito missing it twice!

      I agree the production needs work but those are lessons that can be learned and solutions put in place quickly. Other than that, thought it was excellent!

        2 years ago
  • Any idea what percentage of a lap in Saudi Arabia was done flat out/ full throttle..........? Monza as example in F1 is around 65% - 70%.

      2 years ago
  • I like the update the cars had but I'm not a big fan of both the fan boosts and the attack mode. Attack mode seems to be a replacement to actual strategy made to catch up to and overtake one's opponent. Fan boosts give more power to who's more popular, which by itself is a really bad idea.

      2 years ago
    • I think fanboost is now an inherent part of the series - a bit of a gimmick but it gets people engaging and has always worked well. It’s controversial though, for sure, always has been. I like attack mode. It’s fairer since everyone has it and...

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        2 years ago
  • Since the commentators know absolutely nothing of what's going on, I really enjoyed it.

    Hilarious 😂

      2 years ago
    • The production needs polishing but I’m in no doubt that’s high on their to do list

        2 years ago