Mercedes is anticipating a “steep learning curve” during its maiden FIA Formula E campaign.

The German manufacturer, which has taken over the HWA Racelab team to make its FE debut in the upcoming 2019/20 season, endured a difficult three-day pre-season test at Valencia and is braced for a tough challenge in season six.

Reliability issues thwarted drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries across the test as the pair managed a combined total of 259 laps between them.

“The week got off to quite a challenging start, but fortunately we were able to round off the tests on Friday with a decent number of laps,” Mercedes FE chief Ian James said.

“We are currently having to cope with a steep learning curve. But I am satisfied with how we have organised our approach to Formula E.

“Now is the ideal time to enter the championship as a factory team. Of course, it helps that HWA RACELAB already had their own involvement in season five.

“But I would say that the benefit is more on the operational side. This is actually quite important, because Formula E functions differently from other racing series, especially compared to what we're familiar with in Formula 1 and the DTM.

“The one-day format plays a major role here. Formula E is quite unique: it's not the sort of series where you turn up as a newcomer and run away with the championship.

“The previous season has given us some useful insight into Formula E, but if you're starting as the works team of a manufacturer, there are some significant differences that we have not encountered in the past year.”

Mercedes is joined by fellow German giants Porsche as new entrants to the series in season six.

James believes the ultra-competitive nature of FE will make it more difficult for Mercedes to find a competitive edge over its rivals, unlike in F1.

“In this sport, there are some aspects that are absolutely unique to Formula E,” he added.

“If we look at what Mercedes has achieved in Formula 1, in the DTM and in other series, there has always been one common factor, namely an internal combustion engine.

“You can, of course, see the power unit we use in Formula E as some kind of larger MGU-K from Formula 1 [Motor Generator Unit - Kinetic: stores and releases kinetic energy from braking].

“But ultimately, it has to work in a completely different way, because there is no internal combustion engine in Formula E.

“In this context, we have learnt that the software plays a key role. It's all about understanding the nuances of the software and its development.

“I wouldn't say that this came as a surprise for us, but it's definitely a different challenge from the sort we've been up against in other racing series in the past.”

 

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