It was intriguing to hear Lucas di Grassi speak at the 2015 FIA Sport Conference on the unique challenges jumping from Audi’s R18 e-tron Quattro and his ABT Formula E.
Whilst having to make quite large mental adjustments, di Grassi confirmed my long held suspicion that the regenerative qualities of both series – and their emphasis on efficiency – was complimentary in terms of overall driving technique and maximising lap-time without sacrificing energy.
[I]It’s a huge difference. It’s not like driving a GT with one tyre and then a GT with a different tyre. The jump is so big in the grip level and the power and speeds – especially with Le Mans being a four-wheel drive car.
My brain really has two driving techniques – one for WEC and one for Formula E. But there really isn’t any negative. If anything it gets me some positives. Because both championships are energy-efficient championships, what I learn from one side I can take to another.
For example, driving a specific corner with a specific radius can save me a bit of energy in the WEC and I can replicate that into Formula E.
For me this is the reason we have ten to eleven WEC drivers competing in Formula E and all of them having good results. But it gives me the ability to see how motorsport has evolved from the first Le Mans race in 1923 up until now and how a new championship with a pure form of electric energy is shaping up.
For me to have a feel for these two different worlds are important, but more important are that they are converging. The electrification of the drivetrain systems from Le Mans can be put into Formula E and vice versa. Although at the same time they are completely different, at the base of the technology they converge and improve both series at the same time.[/I]
I some respects then, like Stephan Sarrazin’s experience at Toyota, the benefit if being an LMP1 driver at AudiSport could pose an advantage for Lucas. That said, how does Sam Bird acclimatize given his WEC commitments are effectively in a petrol-driven GT Ferrari 488?
Well given the constantly shifting Balance of Performance parameters in LMGTE, drivers are constantly having to adapt their driving style to maximise fuel and tyres – depending of their power and weight requirements. In this respect, driving a fuel-powered race car is no different to operating an electric power train and brake-by-wire technology.