The FIA World Motor Sport Council met in Paris yesterday. Along with approving the 2021-22 race calendar and the replacement of its awful qualifying format, the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship also received approval for a significant change to its race format. The electric single-seater category will no longer reduce the allowed amount of usable energy for each driver relative to the time spent under safety car conditions.
Instead, Formula E will now increase the timed duration of the 45-minute race as compensation for time spent under both safety car and full course yellow conditions. Referred to as “Extra Time”, this new procedure may draw immediate comparison to stoppage time in soccer (or “allowance for lost time” to use the official term in soccer’s codified rules). “Extra Time” in Formula E will have 45 seconds added to the duration of the race for every minute spent under neutralized conditions. Though, no time will be added during or after the 40th minute of the race.
Motorsport is no stranger to rules lengthening race duration and distance for running under neutralized conditions. For example, the British Touring Car Championship doesn’t count the first three laps of any safety car intervention as race laps during its races. Also, many short tracks across the United States don’t ever count laps under caution as race laps during their events.
While not bluntly stated, the impetus of the regulatory change seems to be obvious, the first race of the 2021 Valencia E-Prix. The race featured multiple safety car periods which resulted in a massive energy reduction, creating a situation where half the field ran out of power. Many outlets including this one used the term “farce” to describe the disastrous race. The new regulations should allow energy management to remain a part of strategy in the series while avoiding any future farces of a similar nature.