FORMULA E: SIMS – WE’VE GOT GOOD PACE, BUT WE CAN’T BE COMPLACENT
Pre-season testing for the ABB FIA Formula E Championship was really positive for BMW i Andretti Motorsport as we set top times in the new iFE.18. Between my team-mate António Félix da Costa and I we topped five out of the six sessions. I was quickest overall on the first day with a lap time of 1m17.567s, and also on the third day with a 1:17.402 lap in my #27 BMW iFE.18.
Together, we completed 435 laps of Circuit Ricard Tormo. We tested under wet and dry conditions, and were pretty competitive in both. Compared with last year’s car, the BMW iFE.18 feels very advanced. We have more power and the new ‘Brake-by-Wire’ system in particular gives you so much more confidence in the cockpit.
We also simulated a race to get the feeling of managing energy while fighting for position. This isn’t something I’ve had to do so far in my time testing Formula E cars, but it went really well. It’s an exciting extra aspect of the race: not only are you racing for position, you also need to think about how things impact your energy consumption and whether your actions make sense or not. It was good fun to have this extra challenging element.
We also tried the ‘attack loop’ system that will give us a 25kW boost during the race. This seems to be a neat idea where we can get more power. We also did a qualifying simulation at 250kW. You don’t get any preparation for this: the first lap you’re at this power is when you’ve got to set the time. You don’t get many laps to hone it.
Overall, testing has shown us that the new car is fast and efficient, which is obviously very important in Formula E. However, race conditions will be incredibly different. The track at Valencia is not representative of the city-centre circuits that we’ll be visiting during the season. The layout, curves and smoothness of the track surface are all very different, so it would be silly to come away from the test complacent. However, I’m pleased with what we achieved. The team and I are fully expecting the races to be difficult and I know I have a steep learning curve ahead as I get to grips with Formula E. Nevertheless, BMW i Andretti Motorsport has done a great job of getting the cars to where they are now, and it felt great to be quick off the blocks.
We’re hurtling towards the start of the season and it’s all building up nicely. We need to keep preparing and doing all we can to continue improving and fine tuning before the first round in Saudi Arabia. The whole world of Formula E is so new, it feels like a whirlwind of learning. There will be plenty of new aspects to get used to, from a driving point of view and the race-day schedule, even down to the media activities that involve the drivers. But I’m looking forward to getting out there and getting the season underway.
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