Improved Formula E car sets indoor speed record inside a building in London

Drivers had never driven the car before and got three practice runs before the record-breaking attempt.
Ameya Paleja
Jake Hughes after setting the Guinness World Record
Jake Hughes after setting the Guinness World Record

Formula E 

An improved version of the GEN3 car used for the Formula E World Championship was a critical component in the creation of a new speed record inside a building in London. The track length available to drivers was a mere 1,135 feet (346 m), within which the car had to make a static start and come to a complete halt.

Formula E looks to recreate the high-adrenaline action of Formula 1 without a gas-guzzling engine and carbon emissions from the racing. The event features a common car available to all 11 teams and 22 drivers to set a level playing ground.

The latest iteration of the car is dubbed GEN3 and is the "fastest, lightest, most powerful and efficient electric race car ever built", according to FIA's press release. There is good reason to believe the FIA on this since the vehicle has a max speed of 200 miles (322 km) per hour. But it is the next iteration of the car, which is currently in the works that was used to smash the indoor record.


Dubbed GENBETA, the next car has been modified on multiple fronts. Among notable new features is a battery pack with an improved power output of 400kW against the 350 kW of the GEN3. The team behind GENBETA has activated a front powertrain kit in the car, making it the first all-wheel drive in Formula E.

A softer tire compound used in the car allows for faster warm-ups and better peak grip, while the cars also feature 3D-printed front wing endplates, wheel fins, and a wind deflector for better aerodynamics on the straights.

To set an indoor speed record, the car needed to start from a standstill and halt inside one continuous building structure. The organizers chose the ExCeL London events arena, which features a 1.29 mile (2.09 km) track that extends inside and outside the arena.

Improved Formula E car sets indoor speed record inside a building in London
The GENBETA car during the world record attempts

The record attempt

Formula E drivers Jake Hughes of NEOM McLaren Formula E Team and Lucas di Grassi of Mahindra Racing Team were chosen for the record attempt in a Duels format, a common approach to determine qualifying positions in Formula E races.

Neither of the drivers had driven a GENBETA car before the record attempt. From the start position, the drivers navigated a 130-degree turn at nearly 25 miles (40 km) an hour before accelerating to top speed along the 346 m straight. Both drivers were given three practice runs before one attempt to break the record. A speed trap was set up 16 feet (five meters) before drivers entered the braking zone.

Hughes had the first go and clocked 133 mph (214.80 kph) on his first attempt, breaking the previous indoor record of 102.65 mph (165.5 kph) unofficially. His subsequent two practice runs were even faster, reaching 133 mph (215.05 kph) and 135 mph (217.65 kph).

The British driver clocked 135.9 mph (218.71 kph) for his official record attempt, but his duel competitor, former Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi, had not even begun.

Di Grassi started his practice runs on a strong footing with 134.75 mph (216.87 kph) on the clock and superseded it with 135.4 mph (217.92kph) and 135.57 mph (218.18 kph) on subsequent runs. The Brazilian looked set to break the record Hughes had created on his official attempt but could only manage 135.24 mph (217.65 kph).