Formula E Wants Its Cars To Be Less Tough So Drivers Won't Hit Each Other As Often

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Robin Frijns, who won the second race of the New York City E-Prix, racing in Brooklyn.
Robin Frijns, who won the second race of the New York City E-Prix, racing in Brooklyn.
Photo: Mike Stobe (Getty Images)

One of the perks of a racing series with entirely electric cars is that they barely make a sound, letting anyone around hear exactly what’s happening on track—including every bit contact, and there’s been a lot of that in Formula E this year. But the series apparently wants to cool it down, and may do so by making the cars easier to damage—at least, when a driver hitting another from behind.

That, according to, means the current second-generation cars will get a “facelift” after the upcoming 2019 to 2020 season is over.

The plan is for the current car to stay around through the 2021 to 2022 race season, but FIA circuit championships director Frederic Bertrand told the idea for the facelift is to create a type of “self punishment” for certain contact. That’ll happen by virtue of an updated bodykit designed to make the front of the car weaker, reports.


Bertrand said there needs to be a balance, though, because the car needs to be slightly weak in front but not weak enough to cause a bunch of regular yellow flags for nose debris. Since Formula E races are run on time limits instead of lap counts, that would kill the show.

There’s also the need to put the self punishment on the correct drivers, which Bertrand said isn’t happening now. Here’s more from him, via the story:

“I don’t know if weak is the right word [for the goal on the nose] – it’s more that when you race in most single seater [series], if you push the guy in front you lose your nose and then you have to go back to the pits.

“If you maybe kill the race of the guy in front but you’re also self-punished [is the intention].

“The difficulty we have right now is that guy in front is spoiled but the one behind is not and this is a big issue.

“But we’ll do a car that is a little bit more self-punishing. Because fragile or weak is not the case because it will still be very strong.”

Encouraging less contact in a racing series might look like a strange goal on the surface, especially since the crowd in the hairpin of the New York City E-Prix in July erupted at all of the chaos in front of them that could be seen and heard thanks to the quiet race cars. The doubleheader was a great show in terms of racing and contact between drivers and, if we’re honest, nobody every looks upon a round of bumper cars with a frown on their face.

It makes sense underneath, though, since Formula E is a relatively new racing series that’s trying to establish itself as a big deal and not a passing fad among viewers. (Manufacturers don’t need to be convinced, since Formula E lets them show off future road technology.)


But regardless of whether you’d rather have more responsible contact or just plain more contact, the latter will be true for at least one more season. It might be a good time to tune in.