Gen3 impressions: the drivers on Formula E's all-new car

With plenty of seat-time in the car over testing in Valencia, we spoke to the drivers to get their thoughts on the Gen3. What's different? How much of a leap is it? And how does a driver get their head around it?

McLaren Gen3 testing

Teams have a whole new challenge for Season 9 with Formula E heading into the Gen3 era. It's a massive leap in technology that's come together to create the fastest, lightest, most powerful and efficient electric single-seater ever - and the most sustainable too.

The headlines are a 200mph (320kph) top speed, a 60kg lighter, smaller chassis, an additional front powertrain and no rear brakes plus a power output 100kW up on Gen2 at 350kw with double the regen capacity - meaning more than 40% of the energy used in-race is via regeneration under braking. The drivers say that will all add up to more overtaking and livelier cars around Formula E's calendar of street circuits.

Testing's thrown up its challenges for teams to get their heads around ahead of Round 1 and Mexico City on 14 January, but that's what it's all about, especially with such a generational leap - as Jaguar TCS Racing's Technical Manager Phil Charles explains.

Edoardo Mortara, Maserati MSG Racing

"Max (Guenther) has already gone quicker than the fastest lap we did here last year so we’re already faster over a lap. We can expect a bigger difference but that will come with us exploiting the car better – you will see bigger differences on targets in the race and on target laps because the car is effectively a lot more efficient.

"There’s a lot to discover. We were at the maximum with the Gen2 car last year with software that was exploiting the entire performance available after years of working with those cars and powertrains. We’ve got a lot to learn and there’s a lot more to come – it’s not entirely fair to draw comparisons right now."

Antonio Felix da Costa, TAG Heuer Porsche

"It's been a fun process to get to know the new car. It’s a massive step forward in terms of power and it’s lighter and those two things you always look forward to as a driver – more power and less weight. There’s a front powertrain too now and it’s going to be a highly efficient car – 40% of the total energy used in a race will be from regen. It’s a big step in technology and it’s fun.

"It’s early days and we’re just getting to grips with the cars, slowly. We’ve a lot of things still to develop and learn with just a month before we go racing in Mexico but that’s all part of the process – it’s enjoyable.

"They have a lot more power than before and at the moment, in certain conditions, it’s quite hard to use it which is a good thing for the people watching. There will be more mistakes from the drivers and it will be harder to dominate in this car right now – I think it will produce very good racing. We’re not as quick right now but it will come with time."

"Just like with the Michelin tyres, the new Hankooks have their own tricks to understand. We were all masters of them after many, many years with those tyres – eight seasons. Just like with the new car, we’re going through a process and there’s a lot to discover – it’s part of it, and it’s fun. The tyre guy has the hardest job in the world to understand how the tyres work – it’s such a difficult thing. Hankook gives everybody the same information to make it fair."

Rene Rast, NEOM McLaren

"Nobody has explored the limits yet and there’s a lot of lap time to come during the season. After a year or two, we will be a lot quicker. The Gen3 obviously has lots more power, it’s lighter and more nimble through the corners. The car itself was very quick especially on a 350kW full-power lap."

Maximilian Guenther, Maserati MSG Racing

"The Gen3 offers different challenges with regen on the front axle now and 600kW total front and rear. The braking feel is different and even more variables can be controlled on the software side together with your engineers – the possibilities of this is pretty exciting.

"The car will be fast on the streets because you have a lot more power - 100 kilowatts more, up from 250kW in Gen2 - and we've got different tyres with different characteristics to the previous ones. All in all it’s a great challenge and the car looks very aggressive. I’m enjoying my experience in it so far.

Oliver Rowland, Mahindra Racing

You’ve got two pedals and a steering wheel but a lot of change. On the technical side there’s the front powertrain that can regenerate energy with no brakes on the rear anymore but obviously way more capacity to regen. The cars are much lighter too and there’s a lot for us as drivers to adapt to. It’s pretty much all-new. So, right now, we’re not 100% sure how to extract the finer details of it and it’s going to be exciting to see how all the other teams and drivers catch up with each other throughout the season.