Formula E

Formula E’s Monza? Cape Town tweak creates fastest FE track

by Sam Smith
3 min read

The Cape Town E-Prix circuit has been modified just ahead of track action tomorrow, meaning that the first ever Formula E race in South Africa is set to be even faster than first anticipated.

What was a chicane at Turns 8 and 9 has now been removed after consultation between drivers and race director Scot Elkins earlier this week.

The quick ‘pif-paf’ complex has been changed to address safety concerns, potentially around the positioning of walls on the previous layout, mainly due to the quick approach from the long straight after Turn 7. In addition, the change alleviates any chance of similar track limits issues that blighted the Hyderabad E-Prix playing out again by removing an opportunity for cutting across kerbs or white lines.

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According to Porsche’s Antonio Felix da Costa the change means that Formula E will have its very own ‘Monza’ type circuit, where the Gen3 cars will run top speeds expected to be in the region of 180mph for much of the track.

“I think they’re just making it a quick left-hand,” da Costa told The Race of the circuit tweak.

“How we had it in the sim wasn’t really a chicane anyway, so the little kink on the right-hand side is just going to be one left-hander.

“I think it’s the quickest track we’ve had in the nine years of Formula E. It’s fun. I do like corners like this, and it’s going to be cool, so like a Monza type feel.”

The modification to the track actually returns it to its original design which was first scoped out last March when the FIA and Formula E Operations staff attended the site of the track which runs around the Green Point stadium complex built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Formula E Cape Town E Prix 2023

The Turn 8/9 chicane was subsequently added in an effort to offer greater regeneration opportunities for the new more advanced energy recuperation Gen3 designs which can recycle 600kW from the front and rear powertrains.

How much of a tow effect there will be from running in packs is a step into the unknown, with da Costa saying “we don’t have enough experience in that area” with the Gen3 cars.

“In Riyadh, another quick track, it wasn’t too bad but being in the tow it has an influence here, especially this year with the car being a bit draggier,” he added.

“But if you’re the third or fourth car in the tow you feel no difference. I think there’s a small disadvantage in being the first guy of a train or something.

“At the moment, it’s still relatively new, and everyone’s kind of trying to adjust and learning on the go to be honest.”

Mahindra’s Oliver Rowland is one of three drivers, along with team-mate Lucas di Grassi and da Costa, who sit on a special driver advisory group. He said the eradicated chicane had the capacity to create what “blind chaos” had it been used.

“It was a bit of a silly chicane to be honest and it invited trouble because if one person shunts there in the race you’d go through them,” Rowland told The Race.

“It would be blind chaos so I think the right decision has been made.”

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