Formula E is taking an idea straight out of a video game by giving drivers temporary speed boosts during a race.
It sounds like a power-up from a racing video game: Formula E is introducing a new “Attack Mode” button to steering wheels for next month’s new season. This Attack Mode will provide racers with a temporary speed boost they can use to pass competitors or maintain a lead if they’re already out in front.
Although this certainly sounds like a Magic Mushroom from Mario Kart, it’s actually not all that uncommon in high-level professional racing. As Jalopnik points out, Formula One and IndyCar both have similar systems in place to keep things interesting and allow a trailing second place car to boost its way into the lead.
Formula One’s boost is called Drag Reduction System, and it essentially reduces the drag imposed by the rear wing at certain points in the race. There are a lot of rules regarding its usage, however, such as only being usable in designated areas and also has a limited number of uses per race.
Formula E will also have similar rules regarding the use of Attack Mode. Racers will only be able to use Attack Mode in designated areas that are off the optimal racing line. Once activated, the car’s electric motors will jump from 268 to 302 hp, which should be just enough to hop ahead of whoever is in the lead.
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As with Formula One, there are a limited number of uses per race and it can only be used from the second lap onwards. The FIA said in their press release that “the precise time period and amount of activations” will be determined before each race, which sounds pretty vague.
One thing that will definitely come straight out of video games is how this whole Attack Mode thing will work during a broadcasted race. Designated zones will be marked on the track for viewers, and cars that have had their Attack Mode activated will have their cockpit halos light up blue.
There’s also a FanBoost power boost that does much the same thing, only its voted on by viewers during the race. The cockpit halo lights up magenta when FanBoost is activated.
We’ll have to see how it works when Formula E’s season starts up in Saudi Arabia next week.