until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E

Modded Formula E car – and McLaren driver – break speed record

by Sam Smith
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

A specially-adapted Gen3 Formula E car driven by McLaren’s Jake Hughes set a new Guinness World Record for the fastest speed achieved by a vehicle indoors.

The speed reached in a run conducted behind closed doors on the main straight of the London ExCeL track was 135.9mph (218.7km/h), beating the previous record by more than 33mph (53km/h).

It came following a development programme established by Formula E and the FIA using a Gen3 car that ran with 400kW of power.

Hughes’ time was set after a head-to-head with Mahindra’s Lucas di Grassi in a mock qualifying ‘duel’.

Lucas di Grassi Mahindra Formula E

He was the first to set a time in the three practice runs, instantly becoming the unofficial world record holder with his first run of 133.5mph (214.8km/h). He then pushed his own unofficial world record further in his next two practice attempts.

Hughes, in his first season of racing in Formula E, then set off on his fourth and official run, earning him the official world record before the onlooking Lucas di Grassi entered the competition.

The record-breaking car – the GENBETA – featured various modifications to the production Gen3 design the FIA and Formula E introduced this season.

The enhanced battery power output of 400kW, which is up from 350kW through the activation of the front powertrain kit in traction, delivered an all-wheel drive for the first time in a Formula E car. This could be embraced for the Gen3.5 car, which will be introduced for the 2025 season.

A softer tyre developed by Hankook was also used in the run, as were 3D-printed front wing endplates, wheel fins and a wind deflector.

An adjudicator from Guinness World Records monitored the attempts to ensure the drivers met strict criteria. To set the official indoor landspeed record, the GENBETA car had to set off from a static start and come to a complete halt inside one continuous building structure.

The drivers started from a standstill inside the ExCeL London events arena and navigated a 130-degree turn at around 40km/h before quickly accelerating along the 346m straight of the race track.

“Driving the GENBETA car and setting the Guinness World Record title for the fastest speed achieved by a vehicle indoors was a really special experience,” said Hughes after his run.

Jake Hughes McLaren Formula E speed record

“I feel very honoured to have been asked and to be involved in such an exciting project. It wasn’t something I ever imagined I’d have the opportunity to even attempt, so now to hold the record is pretty incredible, especially in a Formula E car.

“I didn’t realise how much I wanted this record until I saw Lucas trying to break the record after me. When I was announced I was the record holder I felt a massive sense of pride.”

Alessandra Ciliberti, Formula E technical manager, added that “the GENBETA is the first time that four-wheel drive has been activated in a single-seater race car for both acceleration and braking regeneration”.

“This was achieved by turning on the front powertrain kit to achieve greater traction during acceleration. The GENBETA showcases what will be possible for Formula E racing in the near future.”

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