Formula E car breaks indoor land speed world record ahead of London E-Prix

Jake Hughes has become the fastest person to drive a vehicle indoors at the ExCel centre in London


Formula E driver Jake Hughes has set a new indoor land speed Guinness World Record at the ExCel Centre in London ahead of the 2023 finale this weekend.

Hughes went up against Lucas di Grassi in a bid to beat the previous record of 165.2kph (102.65mph) and came out on top by setting a speed of 218.71kph (135.9 mph) in the current Gen3 car.

The attempt was done as part of the GENBETA project, where several technical and material modifications were made to the Gen3 car.

This includes enhanced battery power output of 400kW, up from 350kW in the Gen3, new, softer iON Race tyre compound allowing faster warm-up and better peak grip and 3D printed front wing endplates to optimise aerodynamics.

Google Cloud provided generative artificial intelligence (AI) for analysis of the drivers’ runs. Using their leading platform, Vertex AI, Hughes and Di Grassi were able to interpret real-time telemetry data to generate speed, power and grip recommendations

The drivers started from a standstill inside ExCel arena and navigated a 130-degree turn at around 40 km/h (24.85mph) before quickly accelerating along the 346m main straight of the race track.

Lucas di Grassi and Jake Hughes ahead of their indoor land speed record duel | Glenn Dunbar / LAT Images

Hughes was the first to go with three practice drives, instantly becoming the unofficial world record holder with his first run of 214.80kph (133.47mph). He then pushed that unofficial world record even further in his next two practice runs with recorded speeds of 215.05kph (133.63mph) and 217.65kph (135.24mph).

The British driver achieved a top speed of 218.71kph (135.9 mph) in his fourth and official run, earning him the world record title before the onlooking Di Grassi entered the competition.

Di Grassi started strongly with a first run of 216.87kph (134.76mph), faster than Hughes’ initial practice, and looked to be on course to snatch the world record from the McLaren driver when his next practice clocked 217.92kph (135.41mph) before the third and final practice hit 218.18 kph (135.57mph), a fraction off Hughes’ official world record.

On his fourth and official run, Di Grassi achieved a top speed of 217.65kph (135.24mph) meaning Hughes had won this unique duel and was officially declared the holder of the Guinness World Records as driver of the fastest-ever vehicle indoors.

Lucas di Grassi couldn’t beat Jake Hughes in the indoor land speed duel on Tuesday night | Glenn Dunbar /LAT Images

Hughes stunned to be world record holder

Hughes was stunned to become a world record holder after not expecting to take part in the duel event.

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

“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.”

Jake Hughes celebrates becoming the fastest ever person to drive indoors | Tim Clarke /LAT Images

Formula E CEO Jeff Dodds added: “Huge congratulations to Jake and big thanks to Lucas for competing together to smash a world record and showcase the incredible potential of EVs.

“Everyone involved in the GENBETA project is driven by the same goal of pioneering innovation and development in EV technology and bringing that game-changing tech to the cars we drive on city streets to create a cleaner, electric future.”

London E-Prix the stuff of dreams

Hughes, who is 12th in the Formula E standings, has taken two pole positions in his rookie campaign but is yet to score a podium.

He has not scored points since the first Jakarta race at the start of June and hopes to end his season on a high on home soil.

“I’ve driven in support series at the British Grand Prix for a number of years and considered that a home race race,” Hughes told and other select members of the press. “The energy involved in that event was obviously pretty special.

“To be headlining the main event at the London E-Prix, racing for a British team in McLaren as a British driver in a world championship is the stuff of dreams.

“I’ve been looking forward to it ever since Ian [James] told me I’ve got the seat and the calendar was announced.”

John Smith
John Smith
Editor at and all round Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E.
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