Newly crowned Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi says that Formula E cars will take on a “massively different” look when a new car is introduced in 2018/19.
While Spark will continue to be the chassis builder, the look of the car could dramatically break from open-wheel tradition, especially at the rear end, and is expected to incorporate some form of halo.
Some Formula E partners were shown the car, which will look different to concept images released in February (above), during Montreal’s season finale in July.
The car is expected to test privately this October before one car per manufacturer is supplied early in 2018 for private testing.
“The car will be massively different, it will look very cool,” said di Grassi.
“The car cannot be bigger (to ensure the racing remains good), it has to be a similar size.
“Its structure has to be a little stronger than what we have now so that we touch more, we race more.
“The design looks good; it does not interfere too much with aero. We don’t need much aero; who really cares if it’s a second faster or slower if the cars are the same?
“The aero has to be basic and not interfere with the racing and the car has to be efficient, strong and safe.
“If they come up with something like this, but the car looks a bit like Roborace (a driverless car which has run at select Formula E events) – different, modern, not following F1’s preconceived ideas – that would be a success.”
Formula E’s current single-seater design was inspired by a desire to look like Formula 1 cars, so the series retained some familiarity when it launched in 2014 and became the world’s first major electric racing championship.
FIA president Jean Todt has promised “a good surprise with new safety and technology on the car” and di Grassi believes there is no reason to fear a move away from a traditional open-wheel design in the future.
“Closing the monocoque, protecting the driver, does not make it not open-wheel,” di Grassi said.
“Actually closing the wheel is much more efficient and the car looks more futuristic.
“For me the main point that hasn’t been achieved with this (current) car is with an electric car you can come up with designs and with concepts inconceivable with an internal combustion engine.
“You can integrate the battery with the diffuser, have a lot of cooling by the fast air underneath the cars, have motors on the inside of the wheels – any idea.
“What’s important is not to replicate old ideas from racing for a series that could come up with something completely futuristic because of the technology behind it.
“I fully understand that for the current car they had to do something which was a compromise, but not for the future.”