Racing Academy: How to Learn a Track

Get acquainted with Edoardo Mortara’s approach to learning a circuit in Formula E…

As a championship, Formula E has many quirks, however, the series’ one-day competition format is unlike anything else in motorsport.

This schedule places teams on a tighter timetable than they would initially prefer and naturally, this presents an array of unknowns with rapid evolution at play on the day.

With two practice windows, preparation is one such thing that is restricted, with teams receiving 75-minutes of track time before contesting qualifying and later, the race.

Naturally – in such a fast-paced environment – preparation is key and as Edoardo Mortara explains, this prep commences long before a race, all from our base in Monaco.

“Simulator preparation is so important in Formula E,” said Edo. “We spend a lot of time, probably more time than any other racing series in the world in the simulator.

“In the sim, we pretty much define all of the lifting and regen points in advance of the race. I would say that 80-90% of the preparation job is done at home.

“If you’re lucky and you’ve prepared well, then you don’t have to change much when it comes to race week.”

Because Formula E predominantly races on street circuits, changes to tracks can come in thick and fast when we arrive on race week.

In comparison to prior seasons, we can find surface changes, alterations to the kerbing, or even minor tweaks to the barriers. This is when the track walk proves vital to race prep.

“The track walk is a moment you share with the entire team,” continued Edo. 

“If it’s a track we’ve raced before, I think it’s important to see if there are any differences compared to previous seasons, checking if the kerbs have been changed and details like that.

“If the track is new, it’s good to have an idea if the circuit is similar to the simulation preparation. 

“On the walk, we also look very carefully at where the Attack Mode activation area is. Here, we need to drive through three loops and this can be quite tricky because they are often very difficult to see.

“It can be tricky to learn anything significant from a track walk at times because when you are driving rather than on foot, everything feels completely different which is hard to describe.

“You can spend all of the time that you want on a track walk but for me, when I’m driving, it feels easier to understand the circuit and more natural.”

Regardless of our restricted practice time though, learning and prep is still possible and we still gain a wealth of knowledge for the future.

“Surprisingly, you can learn quite a lot from practice even though it’s so short,” added Edo. “You can find out the level of grip and if your strategy has been well prepared. 

“We also do some preparation for the race and a little bit of prep for qualifying in the different power modes. 

“One of the big challenges comes from the ticking clock, because the race day schedule is so compact, we don’t really have too much time to analyse the data after the sessions.”