In any sort of race, an F1 car would smoke any Formula E car. Formula E cars have always been much slower than Formula 1 cars, but why are Formula E cars so slow?
The main reason why Formula E cars are so slow is the engines. Formula E cars have an artificially placed cap on around 335 horsepower, compared to the 1000 horsepower that an F1 car has. Electric engines are simply not as powerful or efficient as petrol engines, as they are still new and developing.
To see exactly why Formula E cars are so slow, you need to look into the car’s design in much more detail.
Why is Formula E so slow?
Formula E was started as the electric alternative to Formula 1, with all cars running electric engines. These engines have a cap on the kilowatts of the engine at 250, which produces around 335 horsepower. This decreases to around 270 brake horsepower during a race, as the Formula E cars have decreased power for races.
The powertrain is the crucial element that makes the Formula E car slow, and it has some big differences from Formula One. Formula E engines are made up of an electric motor, much smaller and lighter than a Formula one combustion engine. The electric motor is simply not very powerful, so it cannot produce the same power as a combustion engine.
Formula E engines are also a lot less developed than Formula 1 engines. Formula E only began in 2014, so designers have only developed electric engines for the championship for seven years. It means that these engines are still in early development. These cars will continue to get faster.
Just this year, Formula E released their generation 2 cars, which have an all-new design and improved performance. The generation 2 cars have 67 more horsepower than the previous cars, with a top speed that is incredibly 34mph faster than the generation one cars. Formula E will continue to get faster.
Are Formula E cars designed to be slower than Formula 1 cars?
Formula E and Formula 1 may be very similar because they are both single-seater racing championships, but the championships are very different. The main reason that Formula E cars are slowed is simply because they are designed to be slower.
To differentiate itself from Formula 1, Formula E has focused on city street racing; something F1 only has on a few different tracks like Monaco and Singapore. This means that Formula E cars are designed much differently from Formula 1 cars.
Formula E cars are built for close combat, wheel-to-wheel racing, with the championship seeing more overtakes than Formula 1. So it means that Formula E cars are not designed to be as straight-line fast as Formula One.
Looking at the upcoming calendar for the 2022 season, there are already 11 street circuits in the calendar, with only 1 race not being in a street circuit. The low maximum top speeds mean that the racing is a lot closer, which is exactly what Formula E is looking for.
The whole point of the championship was to create exciting wheel-to-wheel racing in street circuits that Formula 1 couldn’t. This is why they have artificially placed caps on speed, to make the racing much closer and therefore much more exciting.
There would not be much point in Formula E cars being designed to have incredibly high top speeds when it is rare that the cars reach these speeds in a race.
Do Formula E cars have fast acceleration
While Formula E engines cannot produce the power that petrol engines can, Formula E cars also produce excellent acceleration. The 0-100km time for a Formula E car is around 2.8 seconds, only a couple of tenths of a second behind a Formula 1 car acceleration.
Formula E engines are incredibly light because they require fewer parts to produce energy through an electric motor than a combustion engine. This, along with the lightweight designs of the car, makes Formula E cars incredibly fast off the line. It is one area of the cars that you can say is certainly not slow.
The car’s acceleration is comparable to Formula 1 and Moto GP, two of the fastest racing championships in the world.
Will Formula E cars get faster
Formula E cars are continuing to be developed at a high level. The competition has only been going on for seven years, so the year-to-year development of the car is much faster than Formula 1. But the cars will likely continue to be designed to be not nearly as fast as Formula 1 cars and will continue to be looked at as slow. But they still have a lot of development to go.
Sponsors are continually looking much more favorably on Formula E than Formula 1, thanks to the environmental effect that Formula 1 has, compared to the much more environmentally friendly series of Formula E. This means that a lot of money will be put into Formula E, so the development of the cars can be continually added to at a rate that could be comparable to Formula 1.
This means that Formula E cars will continue to get faster. However, they may not ever reach the same top speeds that Formula 1 cars do. Not because of lesser designs, but simply because the championship is not designed to be raced at full speed.
Street circuits are a massive part of Formula E and are the other unique selling point to the championship, other than the electric engines. It seems unlikely that Formula E will move away from street circuits, so designers will continue to make the cars favor street circuits.
Compared to Formula 1 or even Formula 2, Formula E is a much slower series. But Formula E is designed that way, and it is meant to produce wheel-to-wheel racing on street circuits. The series will continue to develop as it is still very new, so with vast investment, Formula E will continue to get quicker, even if it is slow now.