Di Grassi: Formula E missed opportunity to experiment more in Berlin

Formula E will race at the Berlin Tempelhof Airport circuit for a 17th and 18th time this weekend

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Lucas di Grassi believes Formula E should experiment more with the new Berlin Tempelhof Circuit layout and change its format on double-header weekends.

The 2024 Berlin E-Prix sees a major track change, with every corner being altered to create a quicker track on the abrasive old airport, which first hosted a Formula E race in 2015.

On paper, Formula E have the opportunity to be creative with the Berlin track layout, as they did in 2020 when the German capital hosted six races to finish off the Covid-19 affected season.

“The last corner is faster and it’s the first time we’ve had a corner like this, which is interesting and technical,” Di Grassi exclusively told Total-Motorsport.com. “I like it and it’s a good move.

“You could make the corners a different geometry that allows for different lines. I would make the track as technical as possible and to experiment more.

“The FIA are very traditional, which is their job and they are doing a good job, but I would change some stuff from one day to the next.”

Attack mode is at the new Turn 2 in Berlin, where the merge could get feisty as the drivers on the racing line move towards the wall on the exit, in line with the attack mode exit.

Abt Cupra driver Di Grassi thinks Formula E should have made the attack mode time loss a lot bigger, or make it quicker than the normal racing line to change the racing.

“Being a perfectionist, I would still like it to be a little bit more wild in Berlin,” continued Di Grassi. “We have the space that we could experiment with different stuff.

“If it was my choice, I will do a very wide attack mode, like an extra loop where you lose 10 positions. Maybe you do that on the Saturday but then on the Sunday, you have a very short attack, that actually you gain a lot of positions, so you have a different dynamic on strategy.”

Dan Ticktum leads the way in the second 2023 Berlin E-Prix | Formula E / Simon Galloway / LAT Images
Dan Ticktum leads the way in the second 2023 Berlin E-Prix | Formula E / Simon Galloway / LAT Images

Berlin track surface always an issue

One of the most unique aspects about the Berlin Tempelhof Circuit is the highly abrasive repeating abrasive concrete slab surface.

McLaren‘s Jake Hughes believes it will be hard to get the Hankook tyres into the optimal working window will be tricky this weekend, even in the warm temperatures.

“I think it’s quite interesting how the track is actually laid out from the tyre point of view,” explained Hughes. “We have a lot of left hand corners. We don’t have a lot of right hand corners.

“So the left hand tyres, on the surface we have here, are going to be cold more often than not pretty much for the whole weekend, I would say. How teams deal with that is going to be quite interesting to see.

“The surface is always the key driver here to performance and that hasn’t changed with a different layout, so that will be the key contributor whether you get the tyre to switch on and if you get the tyre switch on, energy becomes a bit more comfortable, you’re able to spend a bit more energy because the grip you’ve got.

“If you’re low on grip and you’re fighting to keep up because you don’t have the pace, then you spend more energy to do so.”

Jaguar to struggle?

Jaguar come into Berlin on the back of an impressive 1-2 last time out at the 2024 Monaco E-Prix. They also had a perfect race in the first 2023 Berlin race as Mitch Evans won from Jaguar teammate Sam Bird on the Saturday, then Nick Cassidy won for Envision on the Sunday.

Cassidy, who trails Pascal Wehrlein by seven points in the Formula E driver standings, thinks the track won’t be to Jaguar‘s liking this year.

“It’s quite a different layout,” said Cassidy. “Ultimately, there’s still a lot of combined aspects and the surface is still the same, so I think might require a little bit of a different setup and different controls but the challenge is going to be the same.

“With the braking you are adapting your controls corner to corner. I think it’s one of the biggest challenges for us because it’s such a hard track to understand.”

John Smith
John Smithhttps://total-motorsport.com
Editor at Total-Motorsport.com and all round Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E.
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