There are just four events left in Season Eight of the all-electric race series Formula E. And so far this year, former World Champion Sébastien Buemi has struggled to find his usual pace in the Nissan car. Now, the 13-time race winner is looking ahead to the opportunities that come with Formula E’s impending upheaval in 2023.
Buemi is one of Formula E’s stalwarts, he started the first season of the sport back in 2014 and has entered almost every race since with the E.Dams team, first under its Renault guise and now with Nissan.
Through his eight years with the squad, Buemi was crowned champion in season two, racked up 13 wins, 16 podiums and 14 pole positions. But, so far this year his car hasn’t been able to match his talents.
“To make it simple, we are not fast enough,” he says. “We work hard on that, the whole team is working hard on that. But we basically are not fast enough. Then when we qualify not bad, we struggle to hold the position.”
This year, Buemi’s best qualifying saw him take fifth place in New York last weekend. In the race, he managed to hold position till the red flag brought the race to an early end. It was his best result of the year so far.
He says: “We are obviously struggling since we last homologated the car.”
Thankfully, he only has two races each in London and Seoul left to struggle through this season. After that, Buemi and the team can shift all their focus to the next generation of Formula E.
“It’s going to be totally different,” he says. “It’s going to be a new race format, it’s going to be different cars, different tires – totally different.”
The angular Gen 3 cars will hit the track next year, and promise a top speed of 200 mph and a return to open-wheel racing for the series.
The new car is smaller than the outgoing racer and about 120 pounds lighter than the one it replaces. The Gen 3 car will also be allowed to run a 350 kW motor (about 470 horsepower) up from 250 kW (about 335 horsepower) in Gen 2.
“It’s very hard to anticipate what it will be like,” says Buemi. “But at least everyone will start from scratch and hopefully we can do a better job.”
In its first few seasons, pit-stops were used for drivers to change into a second car so they could cover the full race distance. But now, the sport is considering adding them to mix up strategy and trial rapid-charging in the races.
Buemi adds: “I’m looking forward to the introduction of pit stops again, I think it’s kind of cool in the race to have pit stops.”
There will also be a raft of changes to next year’s calendar that drivers up and down the grid seem to be getting excited about. While a race in Japan may still be a little while off, Buemi says he’s excited to discover the new cities and tracks Formula E will visit.
“I’d love to go to Cape Town, Vancouver,” Buemi says. “Going back to Jakarta was nice, and India [next year]. I’m looking forward to it.
“Obviously India has been confirmed, the others not yet. But let’s wait and see. I do enjoy discovering new cities and new tracks.”
And it’s these changes that Formula E can make its calendar, race weekends and cars that Buemi believes keeps fans coming back for more.
“I think Formula E has kind of changed and challenged the status quo with attack mode, fan boost, car swaps,” he says. “A lot of these things have not been done before.
“Going from two cars to one car was a massive change for Formula E. Now, the fact of going to pit stops and recharging the battery is going to be a big one.”