Background Motorsport

Behind the scenes: Formula E-Prix of Berlin

April 25, 2023

100% electric

DS Automobiles is the first brand of parent company Stellantis to switch entirely to electric driving. All new models launched by the French automaker will be exclusively 100% electric starting in 2024. Consider the all-electric DS4 – the big brother of the DS3 E-Tense – and there will be an all-new model that the brand may be the first to build on the new Stellantis STLA MEDIUM platform. On the racetrack, the cars of DS’ motorsports department have been running on electric power for years.

Formula E

Since DS was founded – in 2014 – the manufacturer has been competing in the Formula E World Championship under the name DS Performance. In 2015, the first generation (Gen 1) Formula E car was introduced, known as the DS Gen1. This car had an output of 270 hp and weighed 920 kg. DS made an impressive entrance into the all-electric racing championship, achieving four pole positions, four podium finishes and one victory in their first season. Between 2015 and 2018, the DS Gen1 was on the podium no less than sixteen times.

second generation

In its fifth season, the racing class switched to the second-generation Formula E car. The new DS car had a higher power output of 335 hp and the weight dropped to 90 kilograms. With this car, DS won the 2019 championship in both drivers and constructors, marking the first double in Formula E history. They repeated this feat in 2020 with António Felix Da Costa driving the DS car.  

More Aggressive

Since 2023, drivers will drive the third-generation Formula E car. The Gen3 car is more powerful, faster, more efficient and lighter. In addition, he looks a tad more aggressive. The designers drew inspiration from fighter jets. The performance of the new car does not lie. The drivers will have 470 hp of power, instead of 335 hp. The sprint from 0 to 100 km/h takes 2.1 seconds and the top speed is 280 km/h. Moreover, it is much more efficient thanks to a regenerative braking capacity of more than 40%. The car can even brake so strongly on its engines that there are no brakes behind.  

Vergne and Vandoorne

In the current, ninth season of the Formula E championship, Jean-Eric Vergne and Stoffel Vandoorn are driving the DS E-TENSE FE23. Vergne, the only driver to become champion twice in Formula E history, has already been on the podium twice this year: he won the race in Hyderabad, India in February and took third place during our visit to Berlin. Stoffel Vandoorne – reigning world champion – has had a difficult start to the season. He achieved another fine pole position in São Paulo in March, but has not yet been able to hold a cup over his head. In Berlin, we ask the former Formula One driver about his experience in the 100% electric racing class.

What is it like to drive a Formula E car? What is the big difference from an F1 car?

Stoffel Vandoorne: “They are enormously powerful, but quiet. During a race you hear more wind noise than noise from the electric motor. Especially in the beginning, that took some getting used to. I have always driven gasoline-powered race cars, like in Formula 1. The sound of the engine always gave me a lot of information, such as how fast I was going. But I soon got used to the noiseless powertrain in Formula E cars and I don’t miss the sound now.”

We ask Bastien Schupp, senior vice president of marketing & communications at DS Automobiles, what technology and knowledge from Formula E are being applied to DS’s street cars.

Schupp: “It’s mainly about knowledge. An example is the knowledge we gain about energy recovery. We are also learning a lot in the field of aerodynamics. Consumers want electric cars with an ever-increasing range, so a streamlined design and efficient powertrain are becoming increasingly important.”

STLA platform

Starting in 2024, DS Automobiles will expand its electric offering with the introduction of a 100% electric version of the DS4. Also that year, the French will unveil a new model that will be the first within the Stellantis family to use the new STLA MEDIUM platform. We ask Schupp if he can give us a sneak peek at it in advance. What can we expect?

Schupp: “I’m not allowed to say much about this car yet, of course, but take a good look at the DS Aero Sport Lounge concept car we unveiled in 2020. We use this study model as inspiration for the new DS model. So: a sleek, tough car. Not an SUV, but it does stand a little higher on its wheels. We are aiming for a range of 700 kilometers.”