Dragon Racing driver Brendon Hartley admitted driving the Penske EV-4 was “completely different” from anything else he had driven as he starts his Formula E career.
Hartley, who in 2017 and 2018 drove in Formula 1 for Toro Rosso powered by 1.6-litre turbo-hybrid cars, has also had lots of experience with hybrid sportscars having driven for both Porsche and Toyota in the World Endurance Championship.
Hartley won two WEC titles with Porsche and also won the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans race alongside Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber.
“Driving the car is completely different but I think that’s a good thing,” Hartley told Just Electric. “When you put the cars on a tight, twisty street track with bumps, it feels extremely quick – even if it’s heavy and let’s say [has] a lot less downforce than what I’m used to.
“[It’s] very different from WEC or F1 for that matter. I don’t think we can compare performance because an LMP1 car, [an] F1 car, is a lot quicker.
“That being said the FE car is very advanced in other ways. Since the brake by wire came in for last year, it opens up a lot of opportunities for systems and developing energy management. Some things are very, very advanced.”
Hartley started testing for the new Porsche Formula E team before moving to Dragon while he also took up a development driver role with Ferrari – working alongside Mahinda Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein.
Despite Dragon being a “relatively small” team, the team are very dynamic when it comes to producing software updates for the car according to Hartley.
“Here it’s been quite dynamic. We come up with ideas as an engineering group, and drivers, and go ‘let’s put it on the car for tomorrow’, said Hartley.
“It’s a relatively small team but everyone’s pushing and it’s very dynamic. We request a few changes here or there and the next day we see them on the car already which has been really positive.
“Not all teams can be that dynamic but it’s necessary in FE but it’s needed. Everything’s moving quickly, we’re going to quirky tracks that require different things and as a small team you’ve got to be dynamic and be prepared to throw everything at it.
“I think we’re working together well and the team’s working hard, even in the short time I’ve been here there’s been a lot of updates system wise.
Additional reporting by Rob Lomas