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Through eight seasons so far, Formula E has combined a compelling on-track product with one of the most innovative and forward-thinking platforms in all of auto racing. And true to its form, the world’s premier all-electric racing series continues to innovate as it enters its ninth season in 2023.
The 2023 ABB FiA Formula E World Championship begins Season 9 this weekend, with the Hankook Mexico City E-Prix at Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez serving as the opening round for both the series’ new season as well as its new era. The 2023 season sees the introduction of the Gen3 car, the fastest and lightest Formula E car yet. With a power output of anywhere from 300 to 350kW, the Gen3 car is now capable of reaching speeds near 200 MPH — putting them on par with Formula 1 cars.
The change in technology is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to changes for the 2023 season. Each Formula E race will now be run over laps as opposed to a time period, while “Attack Charge” periods — which will allow each car to receive a temporary boost in energy — will be introduced at select races later in the season. There has also been a change in tire provider, as Formula E has changed from Michelin to Hankook.
Speaking to CBS Sports, Jaguar driver Mitch Evans — who won four races last year on his way to a runner-up finish in the championship standings — explained that while the Gen3 car is faster in a straight line, the change in tire compound has so far meant less mechanical grip due to a harder compound. While teams will try to sort out how to properly balance mechanical grip with aerodynamics, higher top speeds are set to serve as a natural draw to what Season 9 of Formula E will offer.
“Hopefully people watching on TV or at the races will all sense that and feel that increase in speed, which I think is really, really important,” Evans said. “Obviously Formula E is not the fastest category in the world, but it’s definitely getting there. The Gen3 car will hopefully demonstrate a bit of that. But it’s still early days of the car, so we’ll obviously be working to evolve it and keep making it quicker.”
Also new for 2023 are two of the most prominent names in motorsports, as McLaren and Maserati both join the grid for the first time this season. Both automakers have signaled their arrival with prominent driver signings, including former German touring car champion René Rast for McLaren and Edoardo Mortara, winner of four races last year, for Maserati. Meanwhile, defending series champion Stoffel Vandoorne and two-time champion Jean-Éric Vergne form a star-studded lineup at DS Penske, a partnership which headlines the many drivers who have been on the move in advance of 2023.
“Somehow, the championship just seems to get stronger every year,” Evans said. “The last few seasons it’s been ultra competitive with both teams and drivers. Some of the teams that may have struggled a bit more the last two years have had a massive reset, so they’ll be strong again. There’s some rookies, there’s obviously a lot of drivers that are still the same but have changed teams. So it’s just a lot of new things, but the quality has definitely probably taken another step.”
This weekend’s venue for the season opener is a fitting one, as Formula E will visit the historic Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez, which for many years hosted F1’s Mexican Grand Prix as well as races in CART, Trans-Am, WEC and NASCAR. While the 19-turn course is a modified version of the track’s traditional Grand Prix circuit, Evans noted that it makes for tight racing while also keeping all of the track’s best parts, including its stadium section. This year, a chicane has been added to the backstraightaway, which may create another optimal passing zone.
While the drivers of Formula E will compete on CBS Sports Network all season long, they’ll also featured on the behind the scenes docuseries Unplugged, which gives viewers a direct look at the minds behind the machines and their motivations as they pursue a championship.
“I think it’s really important. I think fans and people want to see behind the scenes content, get to know the personalities of drivers, teams and how it all operates. And then get that sort of unseen content or stories behind the scenes,” Evans said. “… We just need to keep pushing Formula E out there and getting more people watching it, getting more people interested. Because it is a really, really great series.”
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