Formula E races in 2024 will include fast charge pit stops after their introduction was shelved during the 2023 season.
Fast charge pit stops will be utilised in 2024 Formula E races, despite subsequent recommendations to limit its use to qualifying. The FIA and Formula E considered fast charging at the start of the previous season, however this was abandoned after the Sao Paulo E-Prix in March in favour of a complete implementation in 2024. The FIA included its intentions for energy boosting pit stops into the current regulations but it was suggested that these pit stops be solely be a feature of qualifying. These notions have since been rejected and will form a key component of racing going forward.
It is unknown, at this stage, whether the fast charge pit stops – which will supposedly be known as ‘attack charge’ – will be present throughout all races on the calendar or if they will simply be utilised at specific occasions. According to The Race, it is believed that they will be a permanant fixure, in some form. Per the wording of the FIA regulations, pit stops will be utilised “for selected races during the season,” with and the FIA required to publish “any race with a mandatory Attack Charge at least 21 days prior to the race concerned.” Drivers will not be permitted to use the attack charge under full course yellow or safety car situations. The attack charge will only be effective within a particular window of the race that will be chosen right before the event starts.
Thomas Laudenbach, the head of Porsche Motorsport, reiterated Porsche’s desire for fast-charging pitstops in 2024 and voiced satisfaction that they would not be implemented in the middle of the 2023 season, citing concerns about the reliability of the boost charging.
Our position is we want to have the fast charging, we fully support that one, but, at the same time, we said not right in the middle of the season if we aren’t 100% sure that it works because we are interfering with the championship. Therefore, I think it was wise not to bring it [in 2023]. We were in favour of having it, but not to sacrifice the series. Now we’ve got to get it right. I think we’ve got to bring it.
Hopefully the spec parts never decide a championship, that’s very important to us, and this also applies to charging. Therefore, teams are pushing hard to get it into the series only when we are all convinced that it is mature enough. If we are not sure it works properly, we’d rather postpone, we’d rather bring it a bit later.
A Need For Concern?
When the Gen3 initiative was forming in 2019, manufacturers expressed their support for fast charge pit stops. Formula E Holdings, the initiative’s promoter ‘sold’ the idea to championship title sponsor, ABB, who will publicise the project. Williams Advanced Engineering will provide the infrastructure for recharging but ABB, whose logo will be prominently displayed throughout the fast charging process, has exerted enormous political pressure, fuelling concerns that the implementation will be rushed.
Due to problems with the delivery of RESS battery units to teams for the start of the Gen3 phase in 2023, it has already been delayed by one season. After the Gen3 test and development phase started in 2021, the cells of the standard RESS had to be altered. This delay had an impact on the timeframe and assured that the separate boost chargers for pitstops could not be prepared in time.
This, however, is not the only concern.
The FIA’s own simulation working group has been investigating how races are likely to be impacted, particularly on shorter tracks. We could see cars being lapped as a result of the new regulations, something seldom seen in Formula E to date. As a result of this modelling, it is said that the FIA are working hard to maintain the closeness of racing that has been a hallmark of Formula E, especially during this year’s first Gen3 season.
We should be very, very careful how it will affect the sporting format and it’s something that we are we are looking at. We are trying to see different scenarios on simulation to see what would be the most relevant way to implement it in the sporting format knowing that will bring additional interesting stories for the championship. But we would also like to protect the true value of the current format we see.Marek Nawarecki, FIA Director of Sport
Despite this, some worry that the pit stops may detract from the overall entertainment value while others are struggling to understand how it’s going to work, logistically.
Speaking on The Effing Racing Show, analyst Rhys Morgan speculated how it could work.
“They’ve already proven this year that the cars can do a full race on the battery and have plenty left to spare. So, it can’t be that the batteries aren’t big enough. I could see if, maybe, it’s to make them lighter, use smaller batteries so maybe the battery can’t do the whole race. Then you have to choose when you come and get your recharge as if you’re doing a pit stop because you’re running out of fuel.”
Continuing the supposition, co-host Duff Valley added, “I think it’s so they can make the races longer.” On the heels of the success of racing at Portland International Raceway this past season, this could very well be the case.
Within the Formula E paddock, there is some excitement for fast charging, at least. Speaking with Total-Motorsport.com, former World Champion, Lucas Di Grassi explained his belief that the sport needs this update.
It creates a new element of strategy. It’s very interesting. It’s a technology that we need in the cars and it’s very road relevant. It will create a very different dynamic for the race. People stopping in the middle of the race, at the end, maybe you stop at the beginning you lose the slipstream effect, but if there is a safety car, you catch up. I think we will create a lot of different strategies and people love to see the cars on the pitstop, so these elements will be well received by people in Formula E.
With any luck, we won’t have to wait too long for answers. The 2024 Formula E season is set to begin with pre season testing at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia from October 23rd to 27th, with the first race taking place in Mexico City on January 13th.
What are your thoughts on fast charging in Formula E? Will it add anything to the sport or should they do without it? Let us know what you think in the comment section below or reach out to us on social media.