Attack Charge was supposed to be introduced at the start of season nine, but was rolled back to season ten due to the technology not being ready.
As we enter the final week before the tenth Formula E season begins, Attack Charge has been delayed again until the halfway mark of the season in Misano.
However, the product will still be tested during the free practice sessions at the Mexico, Diriyah and Sao Paulo E-Prixs. So why the delay? It simply comes down to the lack of testing the teams have had to ensure it will work properly.
Due to the fire in the pitlane in Valencia, the teams only had the first three-hour session to test the Attack Charge, as well as the last full day. However, there were only eight chargers that the teams could use, so the teams had to take turns to use the Attack Charger.
The teams also practised the movements involved for Attack Charge during a mock simulation race in Valencia, but these didn’t include the actual attack chargers.
The Andretti Formula E Team Principal Roger Griffiths explained that even though the technology has major road relevance for electric mobility, the series can’t introduce something that hasn’t been thoroughly tested.
“We simply haven’t done enough testing,” stated Griffiths. “We have simulated the movements of doing the Attack Charge, to get an understanding of the strategic element.
“For me, there are many not well-known aspects to the Attack Charge which we have to tick off. Is the technology itself reliable and robust? Is it going to function every single time? There is also a sporting element. Is it going to work on a long track compared to a small track? What does it mean for the leader and where they come out in the race, and then the use of blue flags?
“Then we need to make sure the procedural aspects are in place: We have to make sure all the mechanics, engineers and drivers know what is going on. So there is a lot that still needs to be done. Things have been done a bit later than we would have been super comfortable with.
“We have to be guided by what Formula E and the FIA say, but we can give our perspective on how things are going. I am sure both Formula E and the FIA will make the right decision on when it is introduced. We want to prove that fast charging is a great thing for road cars and for racing, and if we do that then that’s brilliant, but there are still too many unknowns to say when it will be introduced.”
Jaguar Racing Team Principal James Barclay also echoed Griffiths by stating that the series has built up a strong reputation and a style of racing that can’t be lost due to a piece of technology not being properly tested.
“We haven’t had a chance to validate Attack Charge yet,” stated Barclay. “I think for everyone involved in this we won’t introduce technology until it is ready. Even though it’s been delayed, it is not a negative we just have to do things correctly. We are a World Championship we need to properly access everything.
“Fast charging has relevance in this championship, it is just a shame we lost time in Valencia to properly validate that before the start of the season. But for all of us competing in this sport, when we introduce something it has to be ready.”
McLaren Team Principal Ian James is confident that the series will continue to prove its road relevance with Attack Charge, but the Brit still had issues with how the system would affect the sporting element of Formula E.
“Formula E is built around road relevance and I think motorsport as a whole throughout the generations has been key to change, and Formula E is no different. We have an opportunity to enhance that connection by demonstrating how fast charging works.
“However, with a technological change such as this one, we need to make sure that it enhances the sporting product. For that reason, I think we need to take a lot of care of how it is integrated into the sport and that it is done in the right way. We must take our time to get it right, rather than rushing it in.
“I do think Attack Charge will be super interesting, watching the cars pit and how it was managed was good to see, and it will add a strategic element to the races, but now we just need to make sure everything is robust enough to introduce it.”
The cars are ready
Florian Modlinger the Porsche Team Principal reiterated that the cars are ready for Attack Charge and were designed specifically for Attack Charge. A Formula E car can be charged at 600kwh, an hour which is double the amount a fast charger can currently charge a road car.
“The cars are ready,” said Modlinger. “They are made to be charged at 600 kilowatts. At the moment the fastest road car charger can only operate at 300kw, and that is seen as state of the art. Formula E cars can charge at 600kw, and recuperating energy can also go up to 600kw.
“The cars have been developed for that technology. We just need to make sure that our great sporting product stays at the same level and is not negatively impacted by the introduction of this. Instead, we want a positive introduction that benefits everyone.”
Formula E and the FIA are using the first half of the season to test Attack Charge further and ratify the sporting regulations before it is introduced. It is something Formula E has to get right to prove its road relevance. Attack Charge could be a game-changer for electric mobility and help drive that change for electric vehicles in the future.