Some things are certain, and looking at the science behind the Gen3, it was clear that its technology would change the automotive industry and shape the future of clean mobility.
Season 9 was a leap into the unknown for this reason but now, after 16 races across the world, the vehicle’s inaugural campaign is complete.
Pioneering new technology can be a tough trade.
It demands a constant process of innovation and refinement, and at the start of this journey, no one person has every piece of what is a highly complex puzzle.
Maximilian Günther’s Race Engineer, Cyril Blais, has been at the heart of the development of our own Maserati Tipo Folgore.
Cyril’s efforts have played an intrinsic role in our success, and now, Formula E’s newest Engineer of the Year award winner shares his secrets of what it takes to develop a Formula E car.
“Prior to the start of the season, our car development was going well,” explains Cyril. “Compared to some of our competitors, we hit the ground running quite early in our program.
“When you go into a new season, let alone with a new car which uses revolutionary technology, you always have question marks. They key question is how competitive you will be.
“In Valencia, we executed avery strong pre-season test. We were a bit surprised as to how much pace we had, but because each team has a unique run plan, it’s impossible to know the true order.
“When you go to the first race, that’s when the gloves come off and when the timer is running, there isn’t anywhere to hide.
“Mexico City was a big slap in the face for us. We were basically nowhere, and it came as a big surprise. But in a way, I think this was a good thing.
“It was good to have that slap because it made us focus even more so we could ensure that we were able to perform at every kind of track.”
Maserati MSG Racing’s difficult start to 2023 allowed the team to gather a more complete picture of its strengths and weaknesses, and to identify areas in which performance could be unlocked.
“The first two or three races were very difficult for us. We were not performing at the level at which we wanted to be, but this was very useful,” continues Cyril.
“It allowed us to understand our shortcomings, identify areas which may have overlooked, and that shaped our direction in terms of car development.
“Edo and Max identified the same areas in which we were missing performance and pinpointing that allowed us to push those areas of development.”
A difficult run of races in Mexico City, Diriyah, and Hyderabad preceded an upturn in form in Cape Town, but it was at the Berlin E-Prix that the team discovered its true performance.
“I think in Cape Town, things started to come together,” adds Cyril. “We did a good qualifying, were in the fight for the podium, and aside from the mistake, the step in performance was noticeable.
“Qualifying was an area in which we were strong, but in pure race pace, we were still a little bit on the back foot. It wasn’t our forte, so we put a lot of focus on that.
“From Brazil, we were able to qualify well and race well, and then in Berlin, we had the podium which was a big, big moment for everyone in the team.
“We only took three points away from the first six races this season, and I think this made us quite conservative. We wanted to maximise our results and bank good points because we were not where we wanted to be.
“In Jakarta, we were on the pace, we fought with the Jaguar and Porsche powertrains, got two poles and then won one race and got a podium in the other. It gave us a great level of confidence.
“Jakarta allowed us to understand the level of performance required to be competitive at the front of the field in Gen3 Formula E.”
From scoring three points in the first six races to 137 in the final 10, Maserati MSG Racing had one of the biggest performance swings on the Season 9 grid.
Now, as the team begins to debrief the past seven months, Cyril has his eyes set on 2024, although building upon current pace requires preparation, understanding, and extensive analysis.
“Looking back on Season 9, I think we did a great job with our development programs,” he concludes. “We were one of the strongest teams for reliability.
“The Gen3 car is completely different to Gen2, and with the new technology, the way you approach a race and even approach development is totally different.
“We’ve seen a new style of racing with the peloton and slipstreaming, and even with the new tyres, understanding tyre performance has been crucial to how we’ve developed the package.
“Performance is not just about one area – it’s a chain, and understanding each link very well is what you need to find the winning formula.
“I’d love to say that we have a magic, silver bullet, but we don’t. Developing a new car with new technology takes hard work, preparation, a lot of understanding, and a lot of analysis.
“Looking at our data, we were one of the best teams for qualifying results and consistently making it into the duels. We had the biggest pace turnaround of any team on the grid.
“You just need to look at our results to see that our level of performance is growing, and if we continue our trajectory, I believe we can be right up there in Season 10.”