A pair of separate, substantial, previously unknown crashes that happened during private testing in recent months resulted in two real-time crash tests for Formula E’s new Gen3 car.
Both Oliver Rowland and Theo Pourchaire experienced serious accidents while testing at Mallory Park in the UK and the Calafat circuit in Spain, however the two incidents occurred at different times and for unrelated reasons.
In the early stages of pre-homologation testing with the Spark-built development car in February, Formula 2 racer Pourchaire, who had been splitting initial testing duties on behalf of vehicle manufacturer Spark Racing Technology and the FIA with Benoit Treluyer, experienced a spectacular off at Calafat.
The car, which was outfitted in camouflage, veered off the road at an unidentified location on the circuit and came to rest on a sandbank next to the track. Although there are little specifics about what happened, the car’s damage looks to have been quite minor in the photograph above, which The Race recently came into possession of.
In a statement given to the media, the FIA described the accident’s specifics and the ensuing actions that were taken.
“This incident occurred in early February 2022, so at an early stage of the Gen3 car development programme, with single supplied parts not yet fully validated,” the statement read. “The accident is a consequence of the loss of the communication between the car and the battery.”
“Since then, a redundancy line has been implemented and the measure has proved its effectiveness.”
“Manufacturers’ test packs have all been integrating software and hardware updates and they have been successfully shown to function as intended during ongoing development testing.”
“Development is all about putting parts to the test and fully evaluating systems under stress, particularly with a car as technologically advanced as the Gen3.”
Rowland’s tragedy happened around the end of last month when a powertrain shutdown led to his losing control of Mahindra’s test and development vehicle, which was severely damaged in the crash.
“It was quite a big one but I’m OK, my ankle is hurting a bit and my back is a bit sore but I’m all right,” Rowland said. “The problem was on our side. It was an issue that we’d had in the shakedown at Abingdon airfield and we tried to do some stuff to fix it because it was a recurring issue.”
“It’s not on the FE Gen3 car side, it is on ours. It was just actually really unfortunate where it happened because it happened at the fastest part.”
“Just before I braked for Gerrard’s and there was wet grass, so I didn’t slow down too much.”
“I wasn’t pushing too hard and obviously I wasn’t at full power at the time. Had that happened in a different scenario it could have been worse.”
Rowland’s mishap occurred during the same month that manufacturers were working to resolve certain problems with the standard battery system, which now had to handle more power and regeneration. The Mahindra driver emphasized how difficult the new technology was for everyone.
“It’s new so you have to risk it sometimes, but it does seem that maybe there is a bit of work to be done but, honestly the problem I had was on our side, so I can’t say anything against the actual design, etc,” Rowland said. “We know our issue and there is a fix coming.”
“I know a lot of people that are worried about the speed and the tracks but it excites me.”
“Of course, we need to look at it from a safety aspect as well and make sure we’re not putting ourselves at unnecessary risk, but from a driver’s perspective I trust Formula E and I trust the FIA.”
“I think the cars are going to be mega and to drive they’re going to be a huge challenge.”
“I do think with the power and the new tyres it’s going to be challenging to drive, but at the same time it’s going to be fun as long as everything is safe.”
This month, all six brands—DS, Mahindra, Porsche, Nissan, Jaguar, and NIO333—are scheduled to participate in a group event in Italy as testing of the manufacturer’s Gen3 vehicles continues.