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

This weekend, the FIA Formula E World Championship returns to China, and as such, revisits its roots by racing in a nation which bookends 10 seasons of history.

The journey began on the streets of Beijing in 2014, and after 126 races in 32 locations, Formula E adds another destination to its list by racing in Shanghai.

As a new circuit for the series, Shanghai is the embodiment of opportunity, and with every team starting from zero, presents a fresh challenge from an even competitive platform.

From car setup to tyre temperatures, combined with the return of Formula E’s peloton style of racing, this is what you should watch out for during the 2024 Shanghai E-Prix.

Adapting Car Setup

Maserati MSG Racing driver, Jehan Daruvala, is wheeled back into the garage during practice for the 2024 Berlin E-Prix2

Following Misano, the Shanghai International Circuit is the second of three purpose-built tracks Formula E will visit in 2024 and serves up a key difference in car setup and direction as a result.

In all forms of motorsport, car setup represents the very foundations of performance, and because each venue comes with different demands, adjusting setup is a necessary step to optimise performance.

Shanghai is one of the fastest tracks we’ll race on in Season 10, and while its high number of medium and high-speed corners will prompt changes, its surface will open new opportunities.

As a purpose-built venue, Shanghai’s racing surface is incredibly smooth, and with an absence of the bumps we’re used to on street circuits, offers a rare chance to lower our ride height.

In Formula E, racing with a low ride height has an array of benefits but the main perk stems from improved aerodynamic performance which can have a knock-on impact on vehicle efficiency.

By racing with less drag, we’ll be able to use less energy and this, in turn, will allow us to edge out an advantage over our competitors on race day.

Adjusting ride height is a small change, but it has the power to create big opportunities.

Monitoring Tyre Temperatures

Hankook tyres in the Formula E pit lane

Take a single glance at the Shanghai International Circuit’s track configuration for this weekend, and you’ll struggle to ignore Turns One and Two.

The constant-radius, sweeping right-hand sequence is one of the most distinctive corner pairings of the season, and it carries a key impact on performance.

Seemingly never-ending upon entry, Turns One and Two will place immense stress on surface tyre temperatures, specifically on the left-side. Managing this appropriately will be vital.

Fortunately, a long straight between Turns Four and Six will help with cooling, but with another pair of high-speed constant-radius corners in Turns Seven and Eight, temperatures will again rise later in the lap.

Monitoring tyre temperatures, and how performance evolves, will be a constant factor and will influence our approach, specifically when we activate our tyres in Qualifying.

Shanghai’s Energy Sensitivity

Maserati MSG Racing driver, Maximilian Günther, battles side-by-side with Nico Müller during the 2024 Misano E-Prix

With its naturally fast layout, and with few heavy braking zones, Shanghai’s energy sensitivity level is very high, meaning that Formula E’s peloton style of racing will return.

The peloton, which is shaped by using slipstreaming to improve energy efficiency, first made an appearance in the 2023 São Paulo E-Prix, and since then, has been ever-present in Formula E.

It has featured in half of Season 10’s races so far, and the excitement which stems from this unpredictable style of racing will continue and will be aided by Shanghai’s sequence of corners.

Shanghai has a natural flow. When the outside of one corner becomes the inside of the next, it’s clear that rhythm is important, but when drivers are battling side-by-side, lap after lap, it promises incredible on track action.

The circuit was built for close competition and combining this with the peloton, Formula E could be set for one of its most memorable, exciting, and strategic races in history.

The Strategy Behind the Peloton

Maserati MSG Racing driver, Maximilian Günther, eyes an overtake on ABT Cupra driver, Nico Müller, during the opening lap of the 2024 Misano E-Prix as Jaguar Racing's Mitch Evans leads the field followed by Jean-Eric Vergne, Pascal Wehrlein, Nick Cassidy, Müller, Max, Sam Bird, Oliver Rowland, Sebastien Buemi, Robin Frijns, Antonio Felix Da Costa, Sacha Fenestraz, Stoffel Vandoorne, Norman Nato, Lucas di Grassi Jake Dennis, Dan Ticktum, Jehan Daruvala, Edoardo Mortara, Nyck de Vries, Sergio Sette Camara, and Jake Hughes

The prevalence of peloton racing has brought a new form of strategy to Formula E, and over the course of Season 10, a distinct structure has emerged every time we visit a high-sensitivity track.

The peloton can be broken into three distinct phases, beginning with energy management as drivers attempt to save more energy than their closest rivals on the circuit.

In the second phrase, drivers start to push harder, and use their recovered energy from phase one to press forward and establish track position inside the top 10.

The final phase is the most critical, and it’s at this moment – usually in the final quarter of a race – that drivers will bolt from the pack in one last push to the chequered flag.

While it can be broken down with ease on paper, executing the perfect peloton is difficult in practice, and is shaped by strategy, intrigue, and long-term teamwork, although constant action and frequent contact mean that the state of a race can change in an instant.

Succeeding in the peloton, quite simply, requires a strategic, forward-thinking mindset, combined with gut instinct It’s one of the most challenging and exciting forms of racing in World Championship motorsport right now.

Our Testing Results

2022 FIA Formula 2 champion, Felipe Drugovich, tests Maserati MSG Racing's Season 10 Formula E car, the Maserati Tipo Folgore, during the series' annual Rookie Test in Berlin, Germany, at the Tempelhof Airport Street Circuit

Formula E’s annual Rookie Test is one of the most important sessions of the season, and after completing an extra six hours of track time in Berlin, the outcome of our efforts, alongside every team’s, will be revealed in Shanghai.

With 2022 FIA Formula 2 champion, Felipe Drugovich, and Stellantis Motorsport Young Driver, Nico Pino, behind the wheel, we completed a tremendous amount of running, specifically testing setup and software evolution.

While the data we collected was street circuit specific, our insights will be critical for mid-term development, and could bring some performance enhancement for this weekend.

Since every team is in a similar position, pay close attention to practice to see if any team has made late season progress since Berlin.