until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E

‘Could get pretty nasty’: How alliances impact Formula E decider

by Sam Smith
6 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Complex inter-squad choreography between manufacturers and their customer teams could come into play in the final two races of the 2023 Formula E season in London this weekend – and according to points leader Jake Dennis, it could get “nasty” for him.

The top four positions in the race for the teams’ crown are occupied by Jaguar and its customer team Envision, as well as Porsche and customer Andretti, and all four teams also have runners in mathematical contention for the drivers’ title – offering each team plenty to weigh up.

Envision currently leads the teams’ standings by 14 points from Porsche, with Jaguar and Andretti 25 and 35 points from the summit respectively with a total of 94 available, while Andretti driver Dennis leads the drivers’ points by 24 points from Envision’s Nick Cassidy, with Mitch Evans (Jaguar) 20 points further back and Pascal Wehrlein (Porsche) five behind Evans.

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Jaguar’s Sam Bird has already called for assistance once, from Envision’s Sebastien Buemi at the previous race in Rome, but this was not actioned.

But all four teams could utilise tactics more aggressively around the mandatory use of attack mode with their drivers who are out of title contention: Bird, Buemi, Antonio Felix da Costa and Andre Lotterer.

Despite the FIA slashing the usable energy for all cars, down from 38kWh to a believed lowest-ever amount of 27kWh, elements of flat-out racing are still likely to be seen in the two races at the ExCeL, which will be run to different lap totals.

Saturday’s E-Prix will require some energy saving but with few straights and ample staccato corners being used for regeneration of energy, only the early stages are set to involve genuine lift and coast techniques.

Sunday’s race will be two laps shorter, at 34 laps, with a more or less full-race sprint likely.

Depending on the points gaps after Saturday’s race, this is when overt inter-team tactical play is most likely to feature – but according to Envision Racing managing director, Sylvain Filippi, the emphasis will initially be on ensuring the cars are at the front of the field before any tactics come into play.

Formula E Rome Eprix 2023

“We work really well together, that’s the whole point of this partnership and being quick,” Filippi, speaking to The Race, said of Envision’s relationship with Jaguar.

“However, we win our own races, ultimately. We don’t ask them to slow down the cars and I think Sam made a comment on the radio in Rome and we’re not going to do that, right? Nobody asked for that.

“It’s not so easy to orchestrate anything in Formula E anyway; by the time you’ve gone on the radio, things have already changed anyway. We are not tweaking anything on the sporting side during the race.

“But all this goes away if we have a really fast car. If we have a really fast car and we qualify well, this needs to happen. Because if this doesn’t happen, the rest is irrelevant.

“The best thing we can be doing is spending every hour we have on being competitive, and then opportunities happen.”

Points leader Dennis, eyeing as straightforward a path as possible to sealing his first professional racing title, said he expected the Jaguar-powered cars to be working together to some extent.

“I think it’s good that Envision and Porsche are still massively fighting – and Jags – are massively fighting for constructors’ [the teams’ championship] because they can’t sacrifice Buemi or Bird all that much,” he told The Race.

“It could get pretty nasty for me, especially if I’ve got four Jags around me.

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“Say Envision weren’t in the constructors’ [fight], then they could just use Buemi. But to drop Buemi from like third to sixth would be a big hit in the constructors’ for them.

“I’m kind of glad that they need the points for the constructors’, it’s a big thing for the team to win. There’s going to be games going on, for sure, and I really hope Andre [Lotterer, Dennis’s Andretti team-mate] can give me some help this weekend; I’m really going to need it.

“But if not, I’ll just try and survive. Always have.”

Two of the four Jaguar-powered drivers, Evans and Cassidy, infamously collided at the last race in Rome – effectively ending Evans’ title quest and severely impacting Cassidy’s pursuit.

But Jaguar boss James Barclay reckoned a mutual respect between his team and Envision would see through positive assistance to each team’s ambitions, should circumstances allow.

“They’re [Envision] in with a shot with a driver in the drivers’ and teams’ title, we’re actually in with a shot more likely in the teams’ title,” Barclay told The Race.

“It’s very difficult to try and prejudge that situation, we’re going have to be dynamic as the weekend goes forward.

“Envision respects our goal to try and win this teams’ championship and we respect theirs too. We just have to be dynamic on that and of course should the opportunity arise we will work in the right way together.

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“But ultimately, I think, to keep things simple, as well, there’s a mutual agreement that both teams still stand a chance until it’s absolutely mathematically not possible in either title.

“Until that point, we continue to race for our teams to try and win the championship.”

From a strategy point of view, Evans believes that Jaguar has executed races well in 2023, and there’s a commonly accepted view that it has produced the most competitive technical package in the first year of the Gen3 era.

“There’s been a lot of talks about efficiency and that’s the reason we’re really strong, but a lot of this year has been down to strategy as well,” Evans told The Race.

“I think Porsche has got a slight edge on us still on efficiency if you really look into it and get all the numbers and all that.

“We’ve got a very strong powertrain, there’s no question about that, but I think in terms of strategy, this year we’ve been extremely strong so that’s helped us in a lot of races.”

Formula E London Eprix 2023

Cassidy believes the drivers’ title fight is now just between him and Dennis only.

“I think, personally, the [drivers’] championship is a two-horse race,” he said. “I think that’s kind of clear.

“Anything else is not expected but [tactics are] also not my decision. I have no idea, honestly, but if we can score a 1-2-3-4 then that’s what both teams want.

“I’ve got to do my job and try to win and hope that my team-mates are right behind me because that is the best scenario. Anything more than that I don’t know.

“If we can win the drivers’, I have a feeling we’ll win the teams’. That’s the way I’m looking at it; if I can win the drivers’ championship, then I think the teams’ will follow.”

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