Formula E will introduce a support race championship for only the second time in its history this season as a junior touring car series using all-electric Minis joins its bill for four 2024 events starting at Misano in April.
The only time Formula E has previously shared its events with another championship was when the shortlived Jaguar I-Pace eTROPHY raced alongside it from 2018-20.
There has been talk of the new Formula G electric single-seater series created by former Mahindra FE team boss Dilbagh Gill and ex-FE and Formula 1 driver Nick Heidfeld supporting some Formula E events as it develops, but there are no concrete plans in place for this yet.
The one-make, Mini Cooper-based NXT Gen Cup that will race alongside Formula E this year is billed as the first ‘100% electric junior touring car series’ and is designed to develop a new generation of all-electric racers.
It held its inaugural season last year primarily in Sweden and joined the bill at two DTM events.
The 2024 NXT Gen Cup season is open to drivers aged 15-25 and the series aims to ‘educate them and develop their talents in order to build a successful racing career’. A 20-car field is planned.
Its launch announcement emphasised the presence of both male and female drivers, having had four female racers in its 2023 field.
Subject to FIA approval, it will join Formula E for all four of its 2024 European rounds at Misano, Monaco, Berlin and London ExCeL as well as supporting the DTM at its Norisring and Hockenheim rounds in July and October.
2024 NXT Gen Cup Calendar
13-14 April - Misano (Formula E)
27 April - Monaco (Formula E)
11-12 May - Berlin (Formula E)
5–7 July - Norisring (DTM)
20-21 July - London (Formula E)
18-20 October - Hockenheim (DTM)
Each round includes two practice sessions (this will be adjusted for Monaco), a 20-minute qualifying and a 20-minute race.
“We are delighted to welcome the NXT Gen Cup after their hugely successful debut last year,” said Formula E co-founder and chief championship officer Alberto Longo.
“The addition of an all-electric junior category to the European part of our calendar will further contribute to the essential nurturing of young talent, a key part to our sport and give them the opportunity to race on the same stage as our world-class drivers and teams.”
FORMULA E'S LAST SUPPORT SERIES
Formula E has had just one official support series before - the Jaguar I-Pace eTROPHY that ran across its 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons.
Sergio Jimenez and Simon Evans - older brother of FE frontrunner Mitch - took the two titles with the cars that were built by Jaguar Special Vehicle Operations and technically supported by M-Sport.
Its grid rarely got beyond a dozen entries and the numbers went south for the second season, after which it was announced that it wouldn’t continue into its planned third year.
A budget for a single car of £650,000 per season (minus marketing/expenses) on an arrive-and-drive basis seemed steep and a relatively paltry amount of track time and a base in paddocks which were usually a bus ride from the main Formula E paddock didn’t feel overly attractive for teams and partners.
There is no hiding the fact that the cars were inherently heavy (2.1 tonnes with driver), as witnessed by some wall-moving shunts throughout its existence. It also made braking enormously challenging for drivers too, although this was, in fairness to Jaguar, addressed in the second season.
Ultimately, the Jaguar I-Pace eTROPHY will be remembered as a quirky addition to the Formula E story, one forged in sound ideals and ambition but that ultimately just didn’t take off.
WHAT IS THE NXT GEN CUP?
The NXT Gen Cup was founded by former endurance racer Fredrik Lestrup and his Lestrup Racing concern. The Swede competed in several ADAC series and low-level 24-hour races over the last decade.
The all-electric cars are developed and built by Lestrup Racing Team, and will be run by individual teams. The LRT NXT1 is a 1150kg machine based on an electric Mini Cooper SE road car.
According to the official spec, the front-wheel drive, 180bhp race car ‘boasts an extra 60bhp when push-to-pass features are active, with a 30kWh battery and 800V system’.
Features also include regen when braking, adjustable Ohlins shock absorbers and Hankook semi-slick all-weather tyres.
All charging operations are handled together with NXT Gen Cup’s charging partner ABB E-Mobility.
"For NXT Gen Cup to go from an idea on paper less than two years ago to racing together with the ABB FIA Formula E and DTM this year is mind-boggling and an inspiring proof of the hard work by everyone involved,” said Lestrup.
“We have together with Formula E and DTM created a spectacular calendar which will provide our junior drivers with a robust foundation to start their racing careers and show their talents to some of the best teams and partners in the world.”