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The Gen3 Evo upgrades that are a “gamechanger” for Formula E drivers

“We want to create headlines,” was a phrase proudly uttered by Formula E’s CEO Jeff Dodds more than once during the launch of the all-electric championship’s new Gen3 Evo machine in Monaco.

Formula E Gen 3 EVO

Photo by: FIA Formula E

Amongst the glitz and glamour that the Principality has to offer, and ahead of this weekend’s Monaco E-Prix, all attention turned to the latest model of car that will be used for the next two years, starting from next season.

At first glance, the Gen3 Evo looks almost entirely the same as its predecessor but, as ever with racing cars, it’s in the detail where the differences lie. A reprofiled and sturdier front wing should mean less of them are damaged during races – a recurring theme given the close-pack racing Formula E has produced of late. The sidepods have also been trimmed meaning the whole package is more streamlined, and in theory, should suffer from less aerodynamic drag.

Even so, on this front, it's still expected that the peloton style of pack racing that has plagued Formula E since the inception of the Gen3 will remain.

But it’s under the bodywork where the biggest change occurs and is in relation to the front powertrain. The component has been part of the Gen3 machine since its introduction ahead of the 2023 campaign, but only now will it be used to provide power to the front wheels, offering all-wheel-drive (AWD) for the first time in an FIA single-seater championship.

A maximum output of up to 50kW will be sent to the front wheels from the total limit of 350kW, with the remaining power driven to the rear axle. It should be pointed out, though, that the use of AWD will be limited to certain situations, including the qualifying duels when 350kW of power is active, at the start of the race and during both Attack Mode activations.

While AWD is a concept widely used in other avenues of motorsport, including the World Rally and World Endurance championships, its use in single-seaters is largely new territory.

Formula E Gen 3 EVO

Formula E Gen 3 EVO

Photo by: FIA Formula E

Bruno Correia is more widely known as Formula E’s safety car driver, but he has also acted as the test and development driver for the championship since the outset, with work on the Evo having been undertaken by the FIA for more than a year.

While he believes the car will require a small change in driving style for drivers, particularly with regards to “the way you apply the power”, Correia also suggests that the latest model is a “gamechanger” leaving him needing “to rethink how to breath” such is its outright performance.

“The fact that you now have this front powertrain also giving you power it will make the car in my opinion a bit more agile from apex to exit of the corner, especially through slow and medium corners – you will have much quicker acceleration,” he says.

“That will be a challenge to the engineers and the teams as well to fine-tune and find a good setup. From my perspective, the drivers will love it and I think the races will be even more close.”

Several current Formula E drivers have already had the chance to sample the Evo machine prior to its unveiling, with the general consensus being that the latest iteration of the car is a move in the right direction.

A particular point of contention had been regarding the Hankook tyre, which many drivers felt offered less grip and performance than the Michelin rubber which had been used prior to last season.

But a new, softer compound will offer 5-10% more grip, although the rubber still remains grooved and is essentially a road tyre, at least until the Gen4 regulations which come into effect from 2026.

Formula E Gen 3 EVO

Formula E Gen 3 EVO

Photo by: FIA Formula E

“Drivers are the most difficult group of people to actually impress and even get some sort of positive output from them,” says Ian James, McLaren team principal and head of Formula E’s teams and manufacturers association.

“On the sample of the drivers who have driven it so far, and considering how early it is in the process, it’s actually been incredibly positive.

“When Gen3 came out, the drivers knew what the potential beneath in the car was and I think because of that there was some frustration around ‘okay, maybe it could faster’.

"What they’re saying is they’ve been listened to, and those things have been addressed.

“What we’re going to have is have a product that’s not just faster, which is what the drivers want ultimately, but actually it’s going to add to the racing as well.”

Put all this together and it means a car which is approximately two seconds a lap quicker around the Monte Carlo circuit, while it can reach 0-60mph in 1.82s, a time that now exceeds the performance of the current Formula 1 cars.

It’s an impressive technological feat, although quite how that translates into generating interest in the championship going forward remains to be seen.

Formula E Gen 3 EVO

Formula E Gen 3 EVO

Photo by: FIA Formula E

For drivers, a quicker car will be welcome news and certainly, the positive feedback so far is a boost for championship organisers, but the biggest battle will be winning over hardened motorsport fans who still remain apathetic to Formula E.

“Some of the more traditional motorsport fans tell us they prefer a qualify first, win the race style of racing, a more traditional style of motorsport,” says Dodds.

“But what they also tell us is they love cars that are very fast and very cool. So in the Gen3 Evo, hopefully, we do some things that start to encourage them to come and pay a bit more attention to what we do.

“I think if you’re a pure motorsport fan you will hear 1.82s, 0-60mph, [and think] I’ll have a look and see what that’s all about, and that’s quite important for us.”

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