Racing Academy: How to Overtake in Formula E

Edoardo Mortara discusses the art of overtaking and energy management in Formula E… 

When it comes to motorsport, overtaking is the name of the game and it is this constant battle for position that always adds fuel to the fire of a race.

To the untrained eye, a dive up the inside can appear to be straightforward and simple, but with overtaking, there is always more at play.

With the confines of usable energy, overtaking in Formula E is all about calculation and the continual evolution of a battle on track can be summarised by Newton’s third law.

“Every action has an equal or opposite reaction,” is how the saying goes, and when it comes to Formula E, the faster a car is driven, the more energy it uses.

It is therefore imperative to find a balance when behind the wheel, and as Edoardo Mortara explains, this fine line is showcased through the measured consumption and saving of energy.

“We work out our energy targets by dividing the car’s total amount of energy by the total number of laps for the race,” explains Edo. 

“That gives you a certain quantity of energy that you can spend per lap. Formula E is a very strategic sport, especially because you have the ability to regen every lap.

“Regen gives you the opportunity to deploy more or less energy compared to rivals, and when you spend and save, your track position changes.”

When Formula E introduced Attack Mode in 2018, the strategy game was changed further, and in the space of two seasons, this power boost device has become the talk of every E-Prix.

By activating Attack Mode – usually twice in each race – drivers secure a power increase of 35kW for a set period of time which not only aids overtaking and defence, but also improves efficiency.

“When Attack Mode is armed, the 35kW of extra power makes a big difference and it gives you the chance to either overtake or defend from the drivers you’re battling with,” continues Edo.

“There is one thing that is important to know though: The more power you have at your disposal, the more efficient you are.

“If you are doing the same lap time with 200kW or 235kW, you are going to be more energy efficient with 235kW because you’re consuming the same amount but with more power.

“It’s up to you what you do with this extra power – either save more energy or spend that energy to pass others which is what we tend to do.”

Previously in Formula E, drivers could save energy with ease in the event of a Safety Car or Full Course Yellow – something which created flat-out racing until the chequered flag.

With a regulation change for Season 6, however, this was eliminated, and with a 1kWh energy reduction for every minute spent in controlled conditions, the on-track fight continues to be strategic.

“The energy reduction for Season 6 impacted the racing quite a lot because previously, we could save so much energy when we had a Full Course Yellow or Safety Car,” added Edo.

“Because this created flat-out racing, it was against the ethos of the championship because we weren’t driving efficiently but now that isn’t the case.

“Because we have energy taken away, we can’t save as much, which means that yellow flag procedures don’t impact us and we still need to save a lot of energy each lap which promotes overtaking.”