Lucas di Grassi, Audi ABT, Marrakech, 2019

Di Grassi wants “wild” Formula E cars with F1-beating acceleration

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Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi has urged the championship to set ambitious performance targets with its future regulations.

The Audi ABT driver described his vision for the championship to media including RaceFans in Morocco last weekend. He wants to see future Formula E cars out-perform their Formula 1 counterparts in terms of acceleration.

“Formula E must be the fastest-accelerating [circuit] racing car in the world,” said the 2016-17 champion.

“It has to accelerate zero to 200 quicker than F1, quicker than rallycross, quicker than all these cars. Because electrical power trains are made for acceleration – like Teslas, like all these super-fast electric cars.”

Formula E introduced its second-generation chassis this season but Di Grassi said his vision will require “massive” changes in design.

“You have to go to four-wheel-drive, you have to go to a different weight distribution, you have to do a lot of different stuff. You have to improve the tyres too to increase the grip.

“You can maybe put move-able aerodynamics. You can go as wild as you think.”

Lucas di Grassi, Audi ABT, Marrakech, 2019
Di Grassi: “It has to accelerate zero to 200 quicker than F1”
Di Grassi wants Formula E designers to use the unique aspects of electric racing to find unconventional new ways of generating performance.

“What I don’t see at the moment is people being very brave to try to adopt Formula E as pure electric,” he said. “They still follow traditional motorsport ways of thinking, of designing, of sporting rules, of technical rules.

“I think Formula E has to be thought [of] separately. Motorsport is going through a transition, let’s use this transition to our advantage instead of copying something which has failed. That’s how I would see it.”

Di Grassi suggested the amount of power produced by the cars and even the number of driven wheels permitted could vary at each circuit in order to suit Formula E’s tighter tracks. The latest Formula E cars produce up to 250 kilowatts (approximately 335 bhp), a figure which he believes needs to increase significantly.

“I would go at least with the same motor we have now but twice,” said Di Grassi. “700 horsepower electric with the same weight, 900 kilos. Then it’s starting to get to where I would like to.”

How does the man in charge of Formula E see motorsport’s most disruptive championship developing in the future? Read Dieter Rencken’s exclusive interview with Alejandro Agag in today’s RacingLines column on RaceFans

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39 comments on “Di Grassi wants “wild” Formula E cars with F1-beating acceleration”

  1. Can’t say he’s wrong

    1. Exactly. I was a bit sceptical about some of the things he has been saying in the press in the last couple of weeks,. But this is exaclty what I think would make FE really exciting, to take a step away from what we know and go “wild” @tango.

      this IS a great vision.

      1. I absolutely agree. FE needs quicker cars with better acceleration, more powerful electric motor, better batteries and tyres.

  2. FE has a huge potential for the future, it’s fascinating to see its (big) progress, season after season

  3. Frankly, some of these ( moveable aero, 4wd, etc) should be on the F1 list

    F1 used to involve some crazy development, some worked, many didn’t but at least there was a bit of differentiation between cars. Sure it favoured the big teams but every now and then a smaller team could come up with something outrageous that worked (or at least until a big team copied it) but these days, anything out of the box (except oil burning it seems) gets banned.

    1. oil burning
      double diffuser
      blowing exhaust gases
      flexible front wings
      wheel cooling aero
      That button Vettel could press that gave more turn in or something

      Off the top of my head, last 10 years. Ok its not the fan car but its always there

      1. That button Vettel could press that gave more turn in or something

        Interesting, I hadn’t heard of this one. Which car was it – a Red Bull or a Ferrari?

        1. a Ferrari

        2. it was a Ferrari and I think it helped turn in I think, just cant… be bothered … to research it properly. Probably should get back to work

          1. I genuinely thought that was a jokey reference to Baku and/or Singapore 2017…

      2. wheel cooling aero? Blown axle right?

        blown exhaust gases there are some details to that, obviously you can’t forbid those, otherwise the engine would explode, however the way how teams can exploit them are restricted (both in engine mapping and exhaust design)

        4WD cars would probably solve quite a few problems related to how the cars follow each other. but we would have to have Audi in the sport surely, am I right?

      3. Add active suspension, and the gyro that Lotus? had a few years back..

        My point though is that pretty much each of these are banned (or they’ve attempted to ban them) instead of being further exploited and encouraged.

        Instead the rules and regulators these days seem to want to limit everything thinking it will decrease spending. That’s really worked hasn’t it?

    2. The F1 rule book, the so called Engineered Insanity as they say, it is more like “Prescribed dumbness”

      1. LOL – COTD worthy @johnmilk

  4. Battery tech will have to take some big leaps first, especially if they want do drive on faster tracks. Or maybe they need very short races instead. having a light car and 300kWh at the same time isnt going to happen tomorrow, keep on working , especially on the thermal managment of battery cells so this race series can actually get exciting to watch with more lively cars!

    I agree with him to not follow the classic formula, skip the high downforce path that F1 has chosen, it only creates costs and awful racing. High power in cars that can actually follow each other could be fun to watch.

    1. Yeah I was thinking the same thing. He is asking for quadruple the current battery density. Now that would be nice!

      Not impossible; but as you say, not happening tomorrow.

      1. You don’t need that amount of battery If you have shorter races. I think It would be more interesting to have a double race format.

        1. I don’t, I think stamina is an important part of motor racing, and would like races to last 2+ hours.

  5. This is weird. EV does accelerate faster than ICE or hybrid in the real life. Did FE use inferior technology than its mass production peer? Battery weight limit? They need to be more road car relevant asap.

    1. @ruliemaulana
      I think it’s simpler than that. Electric car builders tend to focus on acceleration, as that’s a very marketable attribute. Think of it as a form of min-maxing, i.e. the inherent strength of electric motors is highlighted at the expense of their greatest weakness (battery life and reach). A Tesla (e.g.) can be a beast on the throttle, but it’ll drain its juice faster than it takes Elon Musk to say something dumb.
      On top of that, these highly specialised vehicles are compared with combustion counterparts that never took part in that arms race, or are even subject to ever-increasing restrictions regarding their fuel efficiency and emissions.

      This is completely unlike the situation in racing. Unlike road cars, F1 cars desperately need every single bit of acceleration, so they’re optimised for that. And on the other hand, while electric motors are indeed better at accelerating, Formula E’s engines only deliver about 33% of an F1 engine’s power, but their cars are in the same weight class. In other words, F1’s power-to-weight ratio is three times better. No surprise, then, that F1 easily keeps the upper hand.
      To change that situation, FE has two options:
      – Maximising power output at the expense of reach. An FE car that can accelerate as quickly as an F1 car could possibly be built within a year. But it wouldn’t be able to run races that anybody would want to watch, as it’d drain its batteries within 5 minutes.
      – Increasing the charge density of a battery by a factor of 4. That’s what a zillion physicists and engineers is currently working on all over the world. They’re constantly making progress, but this task boils down to quantum physics, which is a rather complicated matter, to put it mildly.

      The bottom line is: Yes, electric motors are better at accelerating than comparable combustion engines. But fossil fuels are still a much more efficient means of storing energy.

      1. Ultra-Fast Battery recharging is being discussed for Gen 3.
        Cars would be much lighter due to half the battery weight, and would gain 4 seconds alone just for that (Agag’s sords)

        I think that, in 2021, performances will get (VERY) interesting

      2. but it’ll drain its juice faster than it takes Elon Musk to say something dumb.

        It drains that fast, eh?

        1. I wish I was as dumb as him

      3. Efficient in space and weight not efficient in energy handling. You need an enormous amount more fuel energy to move an ICE than you do an EV.

        EV cars have great acceleration and fantastic driving characteristics. They can have huge top speeds as well if you want but what is the point when the Speed limit is 70mph?

        Battery tech will improve and probably sooner than many people think. It will not make huge jumps in the next couple of years though… We have to remember that battery tech research stalled for a long long time… It is now high on the list and lost of breakthroughs have been discovered already. It is interesting times. I do not think 4 times battery density is going to be a long way off.

    2. Its hell of a lot difference between doing a cool launch from the red lights compared to doing it lap after lap after lap. Hence why electric race cars have a lot more issues to get high performance throughout a long race. A dragster have 10k hp, but having that performance in a race car is also a bit challenging :)

  6. Having just watched my first Formula E race live, in Marrakesh, I can say that neither the top speed nor the acceleration of the cars is impressive. On the plus side, the close racing is awesome, and the whiny engine sound isn’t annoying irl like it is on TV, and it allows you to hear all the other sounds the car makes (braking, tires, the floor hitting the cerbs), which was cool.

    There’s an obvious way to solve the low speed and acceleration with current battery technology: short sprint races with recharging in between!

  7. F1 should be worried. There’s loads wrong with FE but I accidentally watched the 1st race last night and it was brilliant in terms of wheel to wheel racing. Most f1 fans would swap noise, great circuits, the best drivers in the world, the fastest cars for some more DICING. More dice less mice.

    Its not rocket surgery to suggest that; just check every youtube clip that isn’t a crash, its a dice, an overtake. I re-watched the season finale in Brazil 2008 on sky. Even then it was a great race for dicing, ok it was wet but even so. The cars looked skittish and hard to handle and overtake was earned.

    Ill always find some motorsport I want to watch I was just rather hoping it was always going to be f1

    1. Rocket surgery? Is that what quantum physicians do?

      1. No its related to putting a salad together

        1. LOL, that makes sense!

    2. @tony mansell Liberty’s plan, with the teams’ cooperation, is to give us the noise, the great circuits, the best drivers in the world, the fastest cars, AND more dicing. So you’ll find what you want in F1 after all, and long before you’ll find it in FE.

      1. Well I found wheel to wheel ‘engineered insanity’ last night on Formula Eek as I said. When the speeds are low enough and its effectively closed wheel you can get away with a lot more rubbing and dive bombing, the latter being something only Danny Ric seems to be able to do, within the rules, in F1.

  8. F1 is in a weird position. If you let F1 have free reign to build whatever engines , blown diffuser, ground effect, fuel additive, or tyre technology you would be ending up with something so fast that it’s probably too fast for a person to drive flat out for 2 hours.

    Speed impacts the track design and runoff areas so if you really sped everything up you’d never get the safety sign off you need. Formula 1 has an artificial limit out there somewhere and it’s probably only a question of time and technology advancement before FE catches up.

    The success of the sport is going to have to become about more than speed and with the poor job they did with F1 tv I’m not sure that this organization is ready to adapt.

    1. That’s why its called a ‘formula’. it has always had limitations for all of those reasons

    2. More to the point, would the engineers be able to design whatever they wanted, the cars would be such that EVERY SINGLE complaint that viewers currently have with regards the actual racing, would be exaggerated 10 fold, and the racing compromised even further.

      Put simply, the faster the cars, the worse the racing becomes – its physics innit

      1. Does not sound like Lucas di Grassi received your memo re faster means worse.

  9. Sounds like he wants to be in F1

  10. That is exactly what we don’t want. Killing the competition with improvements only possible to be paid by the teams with the most money. Class A and B in E-racing. The same mistakes as formula 1 made.

  11. Hmmmmm. In F1 the racing has suffered due to the amazing engineering and aerodynamic developments that have always pushed performance for the teams that can afford it. I don’t think that the quality of the racing is the whole point of F1 for that reason alone tough, let alone spectacle, atmosphere, exotic locations etc. Before hybrids the incredible engine noises were a large part of the spectator experience, but having lost that element F1 has become even less attractive. I’m still a lover of F1 though! If we want to see great racing though there’s loads of brilliant motor-sport that will be, and has always been, out there for us. Some of the most exciting, close racing I’ve ever seen has been in the Caterham Series,for example!

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