What the early delay to Formula E’s Gen4 trial really means

The FIA ​​and Formula E have delayed the tender process for the ‘Gen4’ ruleset in order to further evaluate proposals from potential suppliers for the 2026-2030 competition period.

Final selection was due to end on October 19, but The Race can reveal it has been extended until November 2024.

An FIA spokesman said: “The absolute priority of the FIA ​​and Formula E is to make the best possible decision regarding the future of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.

“Therefore, it has been agreed to slightly adjust the tender schedule for the next generation of the Formula E car, with a decision on the selected single suppliers now expected on November 24.

“This will enable us to conduct a thorough assessment of the attractive offers received, including on-site visits to the relevant factories, while ensuring a longer development phase than the current generation of cars.”

The Gen4 car is to receive a significant increase in power to 600 kW (from the current 350 kW), a number of aerodynamic kits, the introduction of a power steering system and a maximum energy recovery of 700 kW.

The FIA’s official tenders were published in June ahead of a three-month bidding process in which any company able to meet four key criteria – chassis, battery, tires and fast charging infrastructure – could participate.

Race understands that a key sticking point, and potentially a key reason for the additional time needed to select a supplier, is specifically the battery tender. Sources suggest this is an area requiring further assessment as it underpins much of the technical package.

Existing chassis and spare parts supplier Spark Racing Technologies is believed to have re-bid for the deal, with Italian company YCOM also interested as it visited several Formula E races last season.

Tire supplier Hankook told The Race on Friday that it is “currently reviewing the related matter [tender] documents, but no decisions have been made yet.

Several senior paddock staff told The Race last season that lessons needed to be learned from a difficult gestation period for the Gen3 project, with manufacturers and teams facing a series of disruptive issues ahead of the opening races of 2023.

McLaren team principal and chairman of the Association of Formula E Teams and Manufacturers, Ian James, said last season that another tender process “always strikes a balance” that everyone wants to “start as soon as possible.”

“The sooner they come out, the sooner you can start wrapping everything up and start the rest of the development process,” James added.

“Then you get a product that is as mature as possible.

“On the other hand, you need to make sure that the quality of the offers is of a sufficient level, so you need to spend some time from the beginning to make sure that [across] commercial, technical and sporting, you strike the right balance.

Race speaks

While the specter of Gen3’s turbulent gestation period still looms over the Formula E paddock, the news that its eventual successor has already been delayed should not yet be seen as a similarly rocky start to the Gen4 project.

This is because the FIA ​​and Formula E have always had a certain degree of flexibility in combining extremely complex projects that involved certain aspects of rapidly developing and constantly changing technology.

Adjustments to the tender schedule, if necessary, are part of this complex process, so this is not a particularly unique situation that Formula E CEOs find themselves in.

However, after difficulties surrounding the Gen3 project spiraled into sporadic periods of chaos, some in the paddock may feel that the FIA’s insistence throughout last season on lessons learned may no longer have proved sufficient.

At this stage this is probably an overreaction and it appears that Formula E is much better prepared for Gen4 than Gen3 already was. This is partly thanks to fresh eyes, such as new FIA sporting chief Marek Nawarecki and Formula E technical and sports consultant Dieter Gass, who are now part of the process.

Gass told The Race during the Rome E-Prix in July that the long turnaround time for the next set of rules “was one of the things I noticed right away.”

“We have learned lessons from the Gen3 process,” he said. “On the first page [Gen4] the presentation mentioned. There is the will and the intention to do this and I think we are in a pretty good place.

Significantly less disruption from global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and conflicts that have affected some supply chains should ensure smoother project management in the Gen4 era as Formula E begins to mature after its first decade of existence.

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