Over supper during the spring of 2011, at an Italian restaurant in the French capital of Paris, the President of the world governing body of motorsport, together with a Spanish and Italian politician, conceived Formula E.
Eventually, what started out with the 2014–15 season as city-based racing for electric cars has since evolved and has become the only other single-seater racing series outside of Formula 1 to be recognised as a FIA World Championship.
For Mahindra, which has been a founding member of Formula E, this year’s inaugural Indian E-Prix in Hyderabad is its homecoming.
Greenko Hyderabad E-Prix
The Greenko Hyderabad E-Prix is part of the ninth season for Formula E. The city street circuit for the inaugural race is about 2.835 km long and is located near the famous Hussain Sagar lake. One of the big changes for the new 2022–23 season is that the race is a number of laps instead of the set 45-minutes timed race till the previous season. There have been a number of changes to the race car that have been dictated by changes to the regulations issued by the sport’s governing body. If you’ve been curious to know more about how a Formula E car is different from the average BEV on the road, here’s a quick overview and some details of the changes made by Mahindra Racing on their Gen3 electric race car.
This season’s race car is the Gen3 for all of the 11 teams participating in Formula E. The Gen3 is expected to continue for the next four seasons. And the mechanicals, including the powertrain, are planned ahead, including for performance regulation changes that may be effected during the next two seasons. The Formula E Gen3 car is about five metres long, and the chassis and safety cell is made out of carbon-fibre and an aluminium monocoque. Unlike the Gen2 car, which had only one motor at the rear, the current generation race car gets two electric motors, including one at the front. Regulations in force now don’t allow the front motor to contribute power; and is used for regeneration. But the front motor’s output could be brought in during races in future seasons.
The peak total output of the race car has been bumped up too, for the Gen3 car, from 250 KW to about 350 KW. During the race, the output levels have been set at 300 KW (402 hp). If that number seems a little underwhelming, it must be considered in the context of the weight of the car being 760 kg. The power-to-weight ratio then works out to about 529 hp per tonne delivered during the race. The top speed for the Gen3 is set at 322 kmph. According to the Mahindra Racing team’s drivers, the Hyderabad street circuit looks to be a fast circuit with quite long straights, much like Mexico. They expect top speeds on the Indian city circuit to be over 260 kmph.
The battery pack itself is a 47 kWh unit, which, while seeming small, features an extremely efficient energy management system. In fact, with a potential regeneration capability of almost 93 per cent, the battery and BMS (battery management system) are said to be the most efficient on the planet. Almost 40 per cent of the power in the battery during a race comes from regenerative braking. The battery and cooling system are also capable of handling flash charging at up to 600 kW, making quick pit stop charge possible from this season onwards.
Mahindra Racing is India’s only racing team to compete in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. The Racing team consists of accomplished drivers, including Lucas Di Grassi, who became the FIA Formula E Champion in 2016–2017 and has achieved three overall podiums at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and won the Macau Grand Prix in 2005.
Oliver Rowlandis is a respected single-seater champion and Formula E race winner. The 29-year-old British driver joined the Mahindra Racing outfit for Season 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. The team has also recently onboarded Jehan Daruvala, a young and accomplished racer, as the reserve driver, who is a protégé of the Force India F1 team after being one of three winners of the “One in a Billion Hunt” organised by the team in 2011. The race begins at 3:00 pm on Saturday, February 11, 2023.