Attack Mode and Fan Boost are two options that provide a temporary surplus of power. The first is available to all drivers, while the second is determined by fans.
The 2019 Formula E season, the fifth of the championship dedicated to electric race cars, got underway with a major new rule: the abolition of the mid-race car swap. This is an evolution made possible by the adoption of the Gen2 cars, whose 54 kWh battery packs allow to complete the entire race. The race lasts 45 minutes plus one lap and requires great expertise in managing energy reserves on the part of the drivers, who must cover around 20% of the total distance with the electricity generated by braking – given that the power held in the batteries is only enough for 80% of the race mileage. This is a substantial difference compared to “traditional” races, where the only limit is the amount of fuel taken on board, and to reduce fuel consumption it is sufficient to slightly lower the engine speed and therefore the power supplied.
This characteristic reflects all the innovative spirit of Formula E, as well as other unusual features such as Attack Mode and Fan Boost.
Attack Mode and Activation Zone
Attack Mode is a 25 kW power surplus which can be used by all of the drivers during the race for a limited number of times, from the second lap on. FIA decides the duration of this power boost for each ePrix, along with the number of activations available to each driver and the sector of the track on which it can be armed. But how does it work? Each track features an Activation Zone, a sector of the track off the main racing line. Before driving through it, the drivers arm the Attack Mode on their steering wheel.
Subsequently, photocells detect the car driving through the activation zone: the additional 25 kW is released via the engine’s electronic control unit as soon as the car leaves the area. This means that the drivers have more power available to attempt overtaking manoeuvres, but they also have to take into account the fact that they must drive off the racing line in order to activate it.
When watching an ePrix on TV, the Activation Zone is displayed directly on the screen, while in the car the LEDs integrated in the Halo change colour. They turn blue when Attack Mode is activated, while red stands for the activation of the Fan Boost. This is a tool that allows fans to vote for their favourite driver on the Internet and via social media, from six days before the race up until five minutes before the green light.
Once voting closes, a ranking is drawn up: the top five drivers will be provided with a 30 kW bonus to use at any time during the race after the twenty-second minute. This boost lasts five seconds and can be activated on the steering wheel too, like for Attack Mode. Over a million votes for the Fan Boost have been submitted through the dedicated website, Twitter and the official Formula E app – at the Mexico City ePrix, for example, the two Audi drivers, Daniel Abt and Lucas Di Grassi, were awarded this bonus.
Attack Mode and Fan Boost are key elements in a e-race, since they can provide a power surplus at a crucial moment – and that can make the difference. Deciding when to use them depends on the race strategy chosen by each driver: an overtake, a breakaway or a sprint are some of the typical situations in which they can be used. They are features specific to Formula E and help make it even more engaging and spectacular.