Things don’t stand still in Formula E: the ethos of the championship is to continue to develop and evolve - in a controlled fashion.
After the big changes for season two, with manufacturers being able to produce their own powertrains, the developments for season three are more nuanced. Here’s your guide to all the changes that have been made…
New front wing
The most striking change to the cars is the stunning new front wing. The part is purely cosmetic. It’s intended to create a strong visual identity for the championship, clearly differentiating it from other forms of motorsport, rather than offering a performance boost. It also gives a tiny glimpse of the wholesale changes that are in store when the new chassis comes on line in season five…
The biggest change in season three in terms of performance comes from the increase in the amount of energy regeneration that is permitted, which has been increased by 50 per cent from 100kW to 150kW.
This will allow a larger strategic window for the teams and drivers to exploit, meaning that we may see greater differentiation in race strategies, as the cars and drivers that are able to harvest their energy most efficiently can run for longer, allowing for a shorter, faster second stint.
In order to harness the extra regenerated power, a new version of the battery has been introduced by Williams Advanced Engineering. This is an evolution of the one used in seasons one and two, but it still operates at 28kW/h with a maximum power of 200kW.
The teams are also running a new steering wheel with increased functionality in order for them to take full advantage of the strategic options available to them.
For season three, Michelin has introduced a new version of its unique, treaded 18-inch Formula E tyres. These are designed to be more energy efficient, through having less rolling resistance and reduced weight.
They also come up to temperature more quickly, and are expected to have the same excellent longevity as the previous version. There is no change to the tyre restrictions, with each team limited to one new set per car for each race weekend.
One point for fastest lap
The thrilling conclusion of the season two Visa London ePrix was enlivened by a battle between Sebastien Buemi and Lucas di Grassi to see who could set the fastest lap and claim the two bonus points, which would determine the title.
While this was a great spectacle, it was perhaps unsporting that an 11-race championship should ultimately be decided by a single lap, so for season three the reward for fastest lap has been reduced from two points to one.
Fans who want to watch every minute of season three of the championship are going to have to set their alarms a tiny bit earlier. This is because the opening practice session has been moved forward slightly. It will now start at 8am rather than 8:15.
The additional 15 minutes is to accommodate new additions to the timetable…
The first-ever autonomous racing car series - Roborace - will be a part of the Formula E support package in season three.
At last week’s test at Donington Park the development hack DevBot successfully completed a lap under full computer control and we’re all incredibly excited to see how it progresses over the course of the season.
Panasonic Jaguar Racing confirmed its entry into Formula E with a stunning launch at its facility in Gaydon this week. The fabulous history of the brand in motorsport was visible at every turn, but the underlying message was that this was a plan for the future, not just of the motorsport team but for the brand as a whole. Its title sponsorship with Panasonic, is also a sign of the global recognition of the series and the importance major companies are placing in electrification.
Another new name is less familiar - TECHEETAH. This is a Chinese-owned team that has taken over Team Aguri. For its debut season it has purchased the Renault powertrain, and showed excellent pace in the pre-season testing, with Jean-Eric Vergne a regular presence in the top-three of the times.
Dragon Racing has also found an exciting new partner in the form of Faraday Future, an American based technology company that has highly ambitious plans to be a key player in the electric hypercar market.
Five new drivers join the grid for season three, giving Formula E arguably the strongest line-up of drivers outside of Formula 1. The new stars are:
Adam Carroll (Panasonic Jaguar Racing)
The 2009 A1GP champion was a regular winner in GP2 and F3 and was an F1 test driver for BAR. He’s also raced in IndyCar, DTM and most recently for Porsche in the GT-Am class of the World Endurance Championship.
Maro Engel (Venturi)
Mercedes-AMG works driver, Maro Engel was a race winner in British F3, who spent three years racing in the DTM. He also did a year in the highly-competitive V8 Supercar series in Australia before returning to Europe to drive for Mercedes in a host of GT series.
Mitch Evans (Panasonic Jaguar Racing)
Mark Webber’s protege was the 2012 GP3 champion (just pipping Daniel Abt), and has been a regular winner in GP2 over the past four seasons for a variety of teams.
Jose Maria Lopez (DS Virgin Racing)
A contemporary of Lewis Hamilton (and Carroll) in single-seaters, Lopez returned to his native Argentina and dominated the national TC2000 touring car series. This led to a works WTCC drive with Citroen and three-straight world titles followed.
Felix Rosenqvist (Mahindra Racing)
The Swede became just the second person in history to defend his Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix title last season, demonstrating impeccable street racing credentials around probably the toughest track of them all. Has also raced Indy Lights and DTM this year.
But perhaps the most exciting change of all is the addition of five new cities to the calendar. Hong Kong, Marrakesh, Brussels, Montreal and New York have all become a part of the world’s first fully-electric racing series, showcasing once again the ability of Formula E to take racing into the heart of cities where other championships simply wouldn’t be able to go.
It all promises to be a fantastic season, so be sure to join us for the HKT Hong Kong ePrix on October 9.