The ABB FIA Formula E Championship’s new attack mode will be impossible to simulate and practice effectively, according to Envision Virgin Racing managing director Sylvain Filippi.
Filippi is positive about the addition to races this season, and believes it will achieve its aims of creating unpredictable races in the absence of mandatory pit stops.
Drivers will have two power levels in their Gen 2 cars this season, at 200 kW in normal race mode and 225 kw when the attack mode is activated.
The mode will be activated when drivers go over a specified part of the track, which is set to be off the racing line.
Teams won’t know the number of activations and their duration until a period shortly before the race start, which e-racing365 understands could be 60 minutes before the green flag.
“It is impossible [to simulate] over a race distance and is really hard for us because the concept, which is great and we ‘get it’, will be so unpredictable,” Filippi told e-racing365.
“It is developed by the FIA and Formula E and if they give information too early we will simulate like crazy and it will negate the whole point of it, which is to create unpredictability.”
Filippi says that the methods used by the FIA and Formula E to ensure a large amount of unpredictability in races will present a massive challenge.
The attack mode format was trialled at the Valencia pre-season test last month and was largely successful.
“By giving us details about the attack mode format close to the start of the race, it throws up some big challenges because it cannot be simulated,” Filippi explained.
“From what we understand is that what we will get in advance is where it will be activated so we have an idea of how far to go and how much time might be lost by doing that.”
E-racing365 understands that some manufacturers are concerned about the effect of drivers going completely off the racing line to activate the boost, with cars at risk of picking up significant tire debris.
This could therefore negate the advantage gained through the additional power.
“The new tires degrade quite a lot and also take some time to recover from cleaning the pick up off the tires. We could see that in the [Valencia] testing,” confirmed Filippi.
New Timed Race Format “Biggest Headache”
The greatest challenge that the new-look Virgin team has faced ahead of the 2018-19 campaign is the introduction of timed races, Filippi admitted.
“The biggest headache for us is the timed race because calculating the energy is now so much more difficult because it is not a set number of laps,” he said.
“The whole strategy and the way we actually do the race strategy is completely different as from the beginning you don’t really know if it is going to be a 41, 42, 43-lap race.
“It makes the energy management really difficult as it is a moving target whereas before it was a fixed target.”
Uncertainty about how races will play out with the inevitable safety car and Full Course Yellow scenarios is also an area of concerns for teams.
“Before if we had a safety car then fine we knew we could use more energy and it was quite easy to understand,” he said.
“Now, depending on what the leader of the race does it will vary greatly and that is interesting.”
E-racing365 revealed last month that Formula E race director Scot Elkins will, by his discretion, be able to bunch the field up under Full Course Yellows.