Formula E's first 'joker lap' - How Puebla will be different - The Race
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Formula E’s first ‘joker lap’ – How Puebla will be different

Jun 14 2021
By Sam Smith

Formula E will introduce a special variation on its attack mode area at the Puebla E-Prix double-header this weekend.

The layout will be a similar procedure to the MotoGP ‘long lap’ penalty initiative – where riders have to take to slightly longer routes constructed in run-off areas when serving in-race penalties – and also has been compared to the ‘joker laps’ used in rallycross by some in the paddock.

Puebla Formula E circuit map

The Race can reveal that a more defined off-track loop for the attack mode transponders to be placed will be located at the Turn 8 area of the Autodromo Miguel E Abed track in Mexico, which FE is using for the first time as part of its 2021 calendar revisions in response to the covid pandemic.

Cars will drive off the circuit through what will effectively be a separate lane of asphalt.

Previously Formula E has used ‘off-line’ areas of circuits for the attack mode to be picked up. Puebla will be the first time that an area completely off the track itself has been used for it.

Puebla, last used for international racing by the World Touring Car Championship in 2009, offers multiple infield configurations and also has an oval – part of which will be used for the last corners of the FE layout.

Puebla WTCC 2009

The track data was given to teams last week. The extra loop at Turn 8 has been formulated by Formula E Operations’ sporting team, which is headed by sporting director Frederic Espinos.

“I think we have done something good and interesting,” Espinos told The Race.

“We really have tried to put the Formula E spirit into this track and it looks much more like Berlin to Valencia.

“We have had this idea for a long time to try not to do the attack mode only on the outside of the corner but to do something else a little like MotoGP and a joker lap.

“When we saw the Puebla track map we have this opportunity in Turn 8 because there is another part of the track with the different layouts available.”

Puebla WTCC 2009

Teams believe that taking the mandatory attack mode, which gives an extra 35kW of power for 240 seconds and is usually allocated twice during races, will double the amount of time lost for each competitor.

“It’s a bit like what the rallycross guys do as a separate corner in a way,” BMW i Andretti Motorsport team principal Roger Griffiths told The Race.

“I think, like the joker lap idea we see in other series, the difference is going to be a lot more considerable compared to normal where we see a 1.2-1.3s time loss going through the attack loop.

“I think you could see double that in Mexico at least.

“The difference compared to other tracks is that where the attack mode loop is built into the corner, you’re not actually going off the racetrack and then rejoining, whereas here you’re leaving the track.”

It remains to be seen if taking the attack mode will be considered as officially leaving the racing track. This could trigger a race director’s decree of having to “give priority to the cars on the racetrack,” according to Griffiths.

Jake Dennis BMW Monaco Formula E 2021

“It will be interesting to see how well that’s policed because if you look back to some of the other tracks like Hermanos Rodriguez [Mexico City], you can be pretty aggressive when you cut back to the racing line [from attack mode],” he said.

“Whereas here, if you go by the spirit of the rules, you’re supposed to be giving way to the cars on the track. So we’ll see how that works.”

The topic of how cars will filter back on to the actual track after Turn 8 is expected to be a central part of this weekend races because, according to Griffiths, “one of the potential overtaking spots is down into T11, so if you can get a good run out of there, and then down into the braking area, I think that could be a pretty decent place for overtaking.”

The Puebla track was introduced as a replacement for the Circuit Hermanos Rodriguez, the location annually for the Mexico City E-Prix since 2016.

The long-range weather forecast for the weekend indicates serious storms in the Puebla area and a strong likelihood of at least some wet weather running.

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