At the Apex: What to watch out for in the 2024 Tokyo E-Prix

Motorsport goes hard in Japan, and this weekend, Formula E is taking to the streets of Tokyo to race in the land of the rising sun.

When plans for the inaugural Tokyo E-Prix were unveiled on June 20, 2023, the race immediately became one of the most highly anticipated events in Formula E’s history.

As a city, Tokyo is iconic and, in a time where most things can be – and are – labelled as such, it continues to stand with longevity, embodying the very meaning of the word.

Tokyo is a new circuit, but it symbolises far more – it represents a fresh opportunity, and without historic data at hand, every team is placed equally on the same competitive platform.

Versatility and decisive thinking in this scenario are a must, and here at Maserati MSG Racing, we’re ready for a fresh challenge. This is what you should watch out for in Tokyo.

Pre-Race Preparations

Three Maserati MSG Racing engineers, including Chief Engineer, Cyril Blais, examine performance and lap times on timing screens in Maximilian Günther's garage during practice for the 2024 São Paulo E-Prix in Brazil.i

In Formula E, preparation is everything but whenever we visit a new circuit, such as Tokyo, the importance of our simulator work increases tenfold.

Without any historic data to work with, it’s easy to understand why this is the case.

The more data we can gather before a race weekend, the more we can anticipate performance, and this means we can hit the ground running sooner and faster than our competitors.

The simulation process starts with quite simply learning the circuit before exploring different lines. Then, lap by lap, what was a complex three-dimensional puzzle starts to come together.

But sometimes, simulations can differ from reality – especially on a temporary street circuit – and that’s why we do a deep analysis of the track for our reference as soon as we arrive.

This analysis includes a careful examination of the circuit, including pinpointing bumps and surface changes which might shape how our drivers tackle each lap.

As time progresses and the weekend evolves, our picture will only become more complete but being ready in advance will improve our versatility and our ability to adapt.

Therefore, pay very close attention to practice.

With every team starting from zero, practice is the first time we can post a competitive lap time, and it’s also the moment we’ll see a rough running order.

Energy Sensitivity and Strategy

Indian racing driver, Jehan Daruvala, turns his Season 10 Maserati Tipo Folgore through Turn One on the streets of São Paulo, Brazil, in the fourth race of the FIA Formula E World Championship's 2024 season.

Energy sensitivity is one of the most talked about areas of performance in Formula E and given that such a factor shapes our strategy and style of racing, it’s natural for it to have such a focus.

So far in Season 10, we’ve gone from strategy-driven races in Mexico City and Diriyah to our first peloton-style event of 2024 in São Paulo.

All three races have had unique characteristics, but this weekend, the Tokyo E-Prix will become one of the most strategic events of the season so far.

This is because the track has a low energy sensitivity, which means that it is easier for drivers to conserve and save energy, reducing the demand for pure management.

In a scenario like this, races are run at a faster pace and while the amount of overtaking typically goes down, the importance of track position and Attack Mode strategy increases dramatically.

While it is possible to overtake in Turns One and 10, the track is extremely tight, and the race will likely either be lost or won through strategy.

To maximise opportunities ahead of lights out on Saturday, having a good qualifying performance will be critical.

In fact, having good one lap pace might prove to be the key ingredient this weekend.

A Complex Corner Combination

Maserati MSG Racing driver, Maximilian Günther, navigates the penultimate corner of the 2024 São Paulo E-Prix circuit in Brazil, chasing after Porsche driver and Season 6 Formula E World Champion, Antonio Felix a Costa.

Featuring a total of 20 turns, Tokyo is a technical track. It has tight sections, long straights, and sweeping corners, meaning that delivering the perfect lap is easier said than done.

From Turn One onwards, there are countless challenges, but after navigating more than two-kilometres, drivers will face their biggest obstacle at the end of the lap with Turns 16, 17, and 18.

Sitting in the middle of one of the longest straights, this left-right-left sequence comes at drivers with little warning, and with a fast approach, a heavy braking zone, high lateral loads, and quick direction changes, it tests every ounce of skill.

Seeing drivers tackle this complex run of corners, especially in qualifying, will be a sight to behold, but given that there is little, if any, room to make a mistake, racing on the limit – and not over it – will be crucial.

A single error could have big consequences. Turns 16, 17, and 18 will be spectacular, but if there’s a yellow flag in any session, it may well be there.

Optimising Car Setup

A Maserati MSG Racing team mechanic changes the left-rear Hankook tyre on Maximilian Günther's Season 10 Formula E car, the Maserati Tipo Folgore, in a pit stop during qualifying for the 2024 São Paulo E-Prix in Brazil.

On the subject of circuit configuration, Tokyo is quite unique, and it’s even split between low, medium, and high-speed corners makes it one of the most balanced tracks in Formula E.

Such a combination can be rare in motorsport, and while novel, it carries real-world consequences and has a direct impact on car setup.

On most circuits we can curate car setup based on corner types to leverage lap time, but in Tokyo, our setup needs to be adjusted to ensure that we leave no corner type neglected.

Covering every base will ensure that we can be competitive in every part of a lap, although spreading car setup so wide can sometimes be a compromise, simply because it isn’t optimised in one specific area.

But every single team is in the same position. What matters is how we use our setup to our advantage, and how that setup, in turn, responds in different circuit conditions.

With fluctuating ambient temperatures over the weekend – and the projected chance of rain – having a setup which works in every environment will be vital.

New Weekend, New Circuit

A Maserati MSG Racing team umbrella shades Jehan Daruvala's Maserati Tipo Folgore on the grid ahead of the 2024 Formula E São Paulo E-Prix in Brazil.

Tokyo is the first of three new locations and four new circuits we’ll race on in Season 10.

As mentioned, such an occurrence brings new challenges, but after navigating four new circuits last season, it’s a process we’re familiar with.

Thanks to careful planning, it’ll virtually be business as usual. The process remains the same, and it’s a process we need to trust.

By taking preparation in our stride, and by acknowledging energy sensitivity, setup, and circuit configuration, taking every session step-by-step will yield the best results.

A structured way to racing is often the best route to success.

Track action for the inaugural Tokyo E-Prix commences on Friday, 29 March, 2024, with FP2, qualifying, and the all-important race taking place on Saturday, 30 March. To find out how to watch every session, click here.