Photo: Formula E

Formula E Set for Unique Race Format in Season Five

By Aaron Bearden, Open Wheel Editor

Boosts are no longer limited to fan votes and arcade racing games. Beginning with Season Five, they’ll be making their way to the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.

FIA and Formula E officials brought to light on Thursday an innovative new race format that will be utilized by the all-electric single-seater series beginning with the Season Five opener in Saudi Arabia on December 15.

Taking advantage of the new Gen2 cars, which are anticipated to have vastly improved battery life and forego the current need for teams to switch to a second car mid-race, Formula E events in Season Five will no longer have a pre-set lap distance, opting instead for standardized timed races similar to those seen in sports car racing.

All races in Season Five will be scheduled to run for 45 minutes with an additional lap. Bonus points will no longer be offered for the drive that can complete the fastest lap, with the most energy-efficient drive in the top five instead securing bonus points.

The Gen2 cars will be given two mandatory power modes – a ‘standard’ 200kW mode, and a higher 225kW power that promises increased speeds for a limited time. The current power mode being used will be displayed using different colors on the LED system affixed to the Gen2 car’s halo head protection device.

Drivers will be able to access the higher power mode by driving through the single activation zone – a special area off of the standard racing line on each course. The activation zone will be clearly marked and visible both on TV and in person for fans watching the E-Prix.

The exact number of individual uses available and relative duration of the higher power mode will be decided by the FIA, and will vary at each event. Teams will be able to utilize the activation zones at their own discretion within time limits established by the FIA before each race.
“Formula E is synonymous with innovation and pioneering technology – that’s exactly what we’ll be seeing again next season with the step-up in performance and efficiency of the futuristic next generation car, as well as trialling unique and radical concepts to usher in a new era of Formula E,” Founder and CEO Alejandro Agag said in a release.
“The new format and split levels of power being introduced for season five will add an extra strategic element and continue to offer intense and exciting competition between some of the most talented drivers and biggest brands in motorsport.”
In addition to the aforementioned higher power mode, three drivers will have access to the traditional FANBOOST award distributed to trio of drivers that secure the greatest tally of fan votes prior to distribution. Those drivers will be able to access 250kW of power while utilizing the higher power mode.
Formula E’s Super Pole qualifying format will remain largely unchanged, but six teams will now be able to clinch a spot in the final round and compete for the Julias Baer pole position. That marks a one-car increase to the pole round – a move Formula E claims to be due to the increase to 22 teams competing in the series next season.
Season Five will run from December 2018 through July 2019. Formula E and FIA officials unveiled the official 13-race schedule along with their new format announcement on Thursday.

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Aaron Bearden is a Contributing Writer for Motorsports Tribune, handling coverage of both the Verizon IndyCar Series and ABB FIA Formula E Championship. A native Hoosier, Bearden has attended races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since he was three years old. He can be found on social media at @AaronBearden93.