For Renault-e.dams – winner of the first two FIA Formula E Championships in 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 – every round is important, of course. The team founded by Alain Prost and Jean-Paul Driot effectively travels to each host city determined to win and its approach has been rewarded by the impressive score of four victories from five starts since the beginning of the current championship!
This weekend’s Paris ePrix naturally has a special savour for Renault-e.dams which has pulled out all the stops to maximise its chances of victory on home soil. As part of their build-up to the race, the drivers spent time on the simulator and we travelled to the team’s Le Mans base to watch Nicolas Prost – who is provisionally third in the Drivers’ standings – prepare for Saturday’s clash.
The French driver believes working on the simulator is a vital part of his pre-race ritual:
Before every round, we spend a day practicing on a 3D scan of the circuit which allows us to prepare for the different tracks’ specific characteristics.”
The Renault-e.dams simulator is located in a dimly-lit room and takes the form of a single-seater racing car tub anchored to the ground by a number of hydraulic hoists which reproduce the car’s movements and reactions as it ‘laps’ the team’s digital version of the circuit. The drivers sit facing a curved panoramic screen, while an engineer stands nearby to analyse each virtual lap and note the drivers’ comments while they work through a range of set-up options. This is no video game!
The aim of these sessions is twofold,” says Nicolas Prost. “First of all, the simulator allows you to fine-tune your knowledge of the track. Paris isn’t a permanent track and it has two distinct types of surface. It is very important to memorise the Formula E circuits upstream because you can’t actually sample it for real until race day when time just seems to flash by. It is therefore vital to do as much preparation work as possible before you arrive, not only from the driving point of view but also with regard to your energy recovery strategy which is a fundamental part of Formula E.”
Formula E’s regulations effectively leave little scope for improvisation when it comes to making the most of the available energy…
We are allowed to use between 70 and 80 percent of the power needed to complete the race at full power,” explains Nicolas Prost. “You therefore have to manage your energy allocation very carefully and we do that by lifting slightly at the end of the straights in order to recover as much braking energy as possible based on what we believe is the best strategy for each part of the circuit. The simulator allows us to cover all the possible situations in both qualifying and race modes.”
The all-electric Formula E Paris ePrix is scheduled to start at 4pm local time on Saturday, May 20.
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