Formula E is now a “high-speed cat and mouse chess game” which rewards skill and patience, according to Mahindra Racing’s chief engineer Vinit Patel.
Patel says that Season Five of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship requires an increased element of strategic thinking for engineers and drivers.
He believes that the new attack mode element of deploying extra power at stages of drivers’ choosing during the race has elements of a “high-speed game of chess.”
“The energy deployment in previous seasons was a reasonably constant thing,” Patel told e-racing365.
“Now you know that at certain points you have to increase your consumption when you have your attack mode and others around you have the chance to do the same.
“You can do this in different ways. There is a lot of lifting and coasting as everyone knows and you can eliminate that of course, but then you have got to recoup it somewhere else.”
Patel thinks that intricate evaluation of other team’s race strategies can confuse the overall picture and cause teams to lose focus on running their own race.
“As soon as drivers start to deploy it [attack mode] we are monitoring the time they lost, the time they won and deciding when to use ours,” said Patel.
“But of course continuous evaluation becomes a bit of a bigger task as more and more people around you start to use the attack mode and lose it.
“Clearly if another driver has lost one and you’ve kept one you are at an advantage, so it was a plan to try to keep this advantage for as long as possible; it really is rather a cat and mouse game or a high-speed chess game really.”
Winning Marrakesh Strategy “Skill and Luck”
Patel also said that Jerome d’Ambrosio’s race-winning performance in Marrakesh earlier this month came down to skill and luck in equal measure.
Mahindra’s win came after d’Ambrosio leapfrogged from tenth to third before benefitting from BMW pair Alexander Sims and Antonio Felix da Costa’s on-track altercation.
“Things opened up yes, but the [Envision] Virgins had used both of their [attack modes] before the safety car came out, so we knew we had an immediate advantage,” said Patel.
“It was then a case of picking and choosing [when to deploy ours] and Jerome was a key part of this [process], because we had no eyes on the incident and he was keeping us fully informed about how quickly the incident was being cleared.
“This led us to analyze the pace of the cars under safety car, understanding the length of the race remaining and knowing when we were going to have to do it.”
Patel admitted that as well as some luck in coming through the first corner melee started by Jean-Eric Vergne, there was also some in strategy calls.
“We actually got a little bit lucky in [the attack mode deployment] as we had a little bit of 225 kW power left just as the safety car came in which let us get a bit of a gap on Robin [Frijns].
“He probably drove a little bit of a better last lap of the race and nearly got us at the last two corners, but Jerome did brilliantly to defend and take a richly merited win.”