Drivers predict less overtaking with London FE hairpin removal

The new London E-Prix layout, where the double hairpins used last year are replaced with two chicanes, will feature faster races but fewer opportunities to pass, according to the drivers.

Oliver Turvey, NIO 333 001, Tom Blomqvist, NIO 333 001, Nick Cassidy, Envision Virgin Racing, Audi e-tron FE07, Oliver Rowland, Nissan e.Dams, Nissan IMO2

A number of crashes last year in the tight hairpins prompted a rethink for Formula E's second visit to the ExCeL centre, and as such feeds into a pair of chicanes that should ensure speeds increase.

But some of the drivers are concerned that the lack of hairpins - particularly the first one - will remove a key passing opportunity on a circuit that is already hard to make moves on.

Jaguar driver Mitch Evans reckons that the first chicane could have been reprofiled to make it tighter, and thus make up for any shortfall in overtaking opportunities.

"Personally, I think more could have been done - I think that the chicanes are too fast," Evans said.

"It could have been more of a braking zone into the first chicane to make more of a 90 [degree corner], there's more room, it's more of a corner of it.

"The track's already hard enough to overtake and we've now removed a good passing opportunity, which was one of the hairpins, but not really replaced it with another one."

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Techeetah, DS E-Tense FE21, Nick Cassidy, Envision Virgin Racing, Audi e-tron FE07

Jean-Eric Vergne, DS Techeetah, DS E-Tense FE21, Nick Cassidy, Envision Virgin Racing, Audi e-tron FE07

Photo by: Alastair Staley / Motorsport Images

Evans also suggested that more energy could be taken away for the London races, with the allowable limit already down to 46kWh from the usual 54kWh to add a degree of energy saving into the races.

"Either the track would be maybe a little bit better from that side, or [you could] reduce more energy, so we've got more energy saving the race.

"So we've already reduced a lot but I think maybe more can be done to make the closing phases longer. That's just my honest opinion."

Current championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne echoed Evans' comments, and explained that teams had done simulations ahead of last year to find an ideal energy reduction relative to other Formula E races.

He agreed that the level of energy applicable for this year's London races was still too high, explaining that it was potentially seven or eight kWh higher than it needs to be.

"I think overtaking's going to be very hard, especially with the way the track is built," Vandoorne explained.

"But it's mainly I think the energy that is a bit too easy around the circuit. So I think even last year, a lot of the teams did some calculations what the kind of the average number should be to to have a kind of corrected coast ratio.

"I think the energy was around like 38 or 39 kilowatts. So with 46, it's still pretty high up there to to what an average race of the season should be."

Venturi's Lucas di Grassi suggested that the original hairpins were introduced on the advice of drivers, and also felt that removing them would limit passing changes

He added however that the circuit would be better to drive - although the circuit in its current form would not be ideal for the Gen3 cars and suggested that it would need to be larger for next season.

"I believe so the hairpins they were advised by the driver's commission for last year to create an overtaking point, because here it is very hard to overtake.

"And you needed a hairpin to kind of brake and try to overtake. There's crashes, but not because of the hairpin itself, it's because the nature of the track, you have to risk to overtake here.

"I think this year the track is better to drive, it's faster. But there is even less overtaking opportunities because now the chicane is kind of easy to block.

"It's a track that for sure, in my view, we cannot race with Gen3. At least we have to modify it to be a little bit bigger, or with longer straights, if you want to race with Gen3.

"Because Gen3 with 350 kilowatts for this type of track starts to be very, very fast. You can still do part of it. But definitely we need to modify it and make it better for Gen3.

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