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Tokyo Formula E layout not “the best they could have done”, say drivers

Formula E drivers believe that the tight and twisty confines of the track layout for the inaugural Tokyo E-Prix will make overtaking difficult in the race.

Norman Nato, Andretti Global, Porsche 99X Electric Gen3

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

The all-electric championship will make its first appearance in Japan this weekend at a 20-turn, 1.606-mile circuit located in Tokyo’s Big Sight area by the docks.

The street circuit is noticeably twisty and technical, with little in the way of straights unlike the previous round in Sao Paulo, which featured ample opportunity for overtakes.

As a result, drivers believe qualifying will be more crucial than usual with passing likely to be so difficult.

“It’s a proper Formula E track, it’s going to be challenging in terms of bumps. A pretty low opportunity to overtake so qualifying will be really important,” said Andretti driver Norman Nato.

“This year is different in terms of tyre understanding, in terms of energy management, everyone now is pretty much on the same level.

“In qualifying in Brazil, it showed how close all the cars are so there’s no margins [for mistakes].”

The circuit has already undergone a change to its layout since it was first announced, with the governing body the FIA adding a chicane through Turn 16 in an effort to improve safety at that section of track.

A view of Tokyo Big Sight

A view of Tokyo Big Sight

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Abt driver and 2016-17 champion Lucas di Grassi believes that the layout will need to be changed ahead of any future return to capitalise on the full potential of Formula E machinery, with a second Tokyo E-Prix already scheduled for 2025.

“I don’t think the track is the best they could have done but it’s the first one,” said the Brazilian.

“We know that always you have to start a little bit more conservative and then move up but in general it’s a very technical track.

"Low speed, a lot of bumps, this track looks a bit like New York in a way with the port.

“With these cars, they have so much power so we need longer straights, faster tracks.

“The problem is that it’s very bumpy and [there is] elevation change. With the grip we have with the tyres, we have to really be careful with how you apply the throttle.

"The chicanes allow you to take a lot of risk, because you need to take the risk to be quick.”

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