The FIA has made a suite of changes to the Formula E regulations only the second race in to the new all-electric racing championship.
Drivers will now be restricted to two qualifying laps, down from the twenty minute stint in Beijing, and this is after only one free practice session, cut from two. There will be no formation lap in a bid to conserve battery power for the race.
Lucas di Grassi, Beijing winner and Audisport Abt driver, remarked: ”Having just one free practice gives us a very limited amount of running…from the spectacle point of view, [removing the formation lap is] the way to go. But from a sporting point of view, it’s not good. Personally, I like to warm up my brakes and see how the car feels.”
In addition, the amount of regenerated energy a driver can store has been reduced from 200kW to 100kW due to the air temperature. Venturi Racing driver Heidfeld commented, “It’s quite a change in the regulation, in terms of regen. Some teams have been penalised by it; [Audisport] Abt did a very good job and [we] Venturi were also good. At first, it’s difficult to accept because you think you’re throwing away an advantage.”
There are high expectations of Heidfeld ahead of tomorrow’s race. The 37-year-old German was moments from winning in Beijing, until a collision with e.dams Renault driver Nico Prost tossed him into the air on the final corner of the final lap. Heidfeld emerged unscathed from the vehicle, but the chassis, battery and drivetrain were totally destroyed.
With no time to strip the car before the shipping deadline and to comply with Chinese customs requirements, the team were forced to pack the car broken. FIA regulations state that teams cannot work on the cars more than two days before the event.
Lionel Chevalier, Venturi team manager said: “There’s two things; one is the regulation. Two, the organiser wants to control the cost. When we arrived in Putrajaya, we were not allowed to work more than two days before the event. Now, everybody is working and everybody has to help.” He added with a smile: “Our garage is under the podium…we don’t have a long way to go. Yes, I think we have a chance to win, totally. ”
It is hoped a reinforced casing on the gearbox will resolve an issue which created a shortage of replacement parts in Beijing. Theo Gouzin, of Spark Racing Technologies – the consortium of component manufacturers – told Recombu: “We sell the parts to FEH and then the teams order through there. They didn’t order enough gearboxes in Beijing so [Venturi driver Stephane] Sarrazin used the gearbox from the prototype. We weren’t anticipating a problem with the gearbox after the testing at Donington. We had many spares for other things, but city tracks run a much greater risk of crash. The smallest mistake have a major consequence on the car.”
The threat of a storm means the race will now take place at 2pm local time (6am UK time) though there is still a chance of race. It would be the first wet race of the series, though if the race is not red-flagged, there will be no tyre change as Michelin has developed an all-weather tyre for the series.