Formula E Smashes Indoor Land Speed Record With GENBETA car

A revolutionary Formula E electric race car, the GENBETA, has smashed the indoor landspeed world record by more than 33 mph reaching a top speed of more than 135.9 mph inside a building in London.
The official GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title was achieved by driver Jake Hughes of NEOM McLaren Formula E Team who competed with a rival in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, Mahindra Racing team driver Lucas di Grassi, to set the world record for the fastest speed achieved by a vehicle indoors.
The pair went head-to-head in the ‘Duels’ format used in qualifying for Formula E races to see who could set the fastest speed indoors, on just .176 miles – less than a quarter mile – of straight race track, using the same GENBETA car. 
Neither driver had ever been behind the wheel of the GENBETA before, but both beat the previous world record of 102.7 mph set in February 2021 on all three of their practice runs before their official world record attempts.
Britain’s Jake Hughes was the first to go with three practice drives, instantly becoming the unofficial world record holder with his first run of 133.5 mph. He then pushed that unofficial world record even further in his next two practice runs with recorded speeds of 133.6 mph and 135.2 mph.
Hughes, in his first season of racing in Formula E, set off on his fourth and official run. He achieved a top speed of 135.9 mph earning him the world record title before the onlooking Lucas di Grassi entered the competition.
The Brazilian started strongly with a first run of 134.8 mph, faster than Hughes’ initial practice, and looked to be on course to snatch the world record from his championship rival when his next practice clocked 135.4 mph before the third and final practice hit 135.6 mph, a fraction off Hughes’ official world record.
Alas, it was not to be for the former Formula E champion who won the first-ever Formula E race in Beijing in 2014 and is the most successful driver in the history of the championship. His fourth and official run achieved a top speed of 135.2 mph meaning Hughes had won this unique Duel and was officially declared the holder of the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title as driver of the fastest-ever vehicle indoors.
The GENBETA car driven by both drivers to set the new world record featured a range of modifications to effectively ‘unlock’ the specifications of the GEN3 race car. Introduced this season in Formula E, the GEN3 is the fastest, lightest, most powerful and efficient electric race car ever built. With a top speed of more than 200 mph, the GEN3 is used by the 11 teams and 22 drivers in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. 
The modifications to the GEN3 as part of the GENBETA project include:
  • Enhanced battery power output of 400kW, up from 350kW in the GEN3, through the activation of the front powertrain kit in traction, delivering all-wheel drive for the first time in a Formula E car. The battery was charged by ABB, the title partner and official charging partner of the Championship.
  • New, softer iON Race tire compound allowing faster warm-up and better peak grip, developed by Hankook Tire, official tire supplier of Formula E.
  • 3D printed front wing endplates, wheel fins and a wind deflector with circular, more sustainable thermoplastic solutions developed by SABIC, principal partner of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, to optimize aerodynamics for enhanced straight line speed of the GENBETA.
In addition to technology innovations on the GENBETA car, Google Cloud provided generative artificial intelligence (AI) for analysis of the drivers’ runs. Using their leading platform, Vertex AI, Hughes and Di Grassi were able to interpret real-time telemetry data to generate speed, power and grip recommendations. This gave them the ability to interact and converse with an interface to help fine tune their approach across their three attempts.
Experts from McKinsey & Company, led by its AI arm, QuantumBlack, built data and analytics components to create the driver interface that analyzed and queried data in real time through generative AI for the record attempt.
An adjudicator from Guinness World Records monitored the attempts to ensure the drivers met strict criteria. To set the official indoor landspeed record, the GENBETA car had to set off from a static start and come to a complete halt inside one continuous building structure. 
The drivers started from a standstill inside the ExCeL London events arena and navigated a 130-degree turn at around 24.9 mph before quickly accelerating along the .176 mile straight of the race track. 
The indoor straight is part of the 1.299 mile track which is unique in world motorsport for extending inside and outside the 1,076,391 sq/f ExCeL London events arena in the Docklands area of east London which will host the final two races in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday.
Their speed was measured by a sophisticated speed trap system at a fixed point just 16.4 feet before the drivers entered the braking zone – the length of track needed to come to a complete stop and remain inside the building. 
The world record was set late night on July 25 after construction work to install the track and grandstands at the venue was completed for the day.
Former World’s Strongest Man, Eddie Hall, who has broken multiple weightlifting world records, was part of the driver support team sharing his personal insights and advice on mental preparation for a world record attempt. 
The most dramatic ABB FIA Formula E World Championship season yet will conclude this Saturday and Sunday with the final two races in the 2023 Hankook London E-Prix. Avalanche Andretti Formula E team driver Jake Dennis, from the UK, has a 24-point advantage over Nick Cassidy (Envision Racing) in second. 
However, as the last race weekend in Rome proved when three of the top contenders unexpectedly lost points following crashes that Dennis managed to avoid, anything can happen in Formula E. Following a record-breaking week, Formula E will make history again when a new champion is crowned this weekend.
The GEN3 race car developed by Formula E and the FIA and used by all 11 teams in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship is the fastest, lightest most powerful and efficient electric race competing in elite competition.
As part of the GENBETA project, several technical and material modifications were made to the GEN3 to create the GENBETA car to take on the world-record attempt.
  • Battery: The 350kW power output of the current GEN3 has been enhanced to 400kW. The combined power output of 400kW with all-wheel drive is the result of the dynamic power balance of 50kW available in the front motor and 350kW in the rear-axle motor. The GEN3 and GENBETA batteries are charged by ABB, the title partner and official charging partner of the Championship.
  • Tires: Hankook, together with Formula E and the FIA, created a new specification to maximize the GENBETA’s power output to maximize grip in the bid to set the new world record. The iON Race Formula E Development tire incorporates a new compound which is relatively much softer than the specification tires used by a GEN3 in races. This allows for a faster warm-up time and as a result gives better peak grip to the driver to maximise the performance and hit the speed target.
  • Bodywork: enhancing the aerodynamics of the GENBETA focused on maximizing the straight line speed of the car to achieve the maximum possible speed in the record-breaking test zone. To achieve this, Formula E Principal Partner SABIC contributed circular, more sustainable thermoplastics for three key innovations in the bodywork: new front wing endplates, wheel fins and a wind deflector. The advanced thermoplastics from SABIC come from its TRUCIRCLE™ portfolio, designed to accelerate the change towards a circular economy with solutions targeted at preventing valuable plastics from becoming waste and helping reduce carbon emissions.
    • Front wing endplates: these components, mounted on the outboard extremities of the vehicle’s front wing, are integral to redirection of airflow around the front wheels to help reduce drag, while contributing to the car’s downforce and stability. The front wing endplates on the GENBETA were produced by additive manufacturing or 3D printing process known as fused deposition modelling. The SABIC thermoplastic material employed makes possible the construction of endplates with high stiffness and strength combined with a low weight. 3D printing of the parts also contributes to less material waste, energy use and emissions.
    • Wheel fins: these components, mounted onto the wheel rims in a radial, spoke-like pattern, are intended to help optimize airflow and reduce aerodynamic drag for higher acceleration and speed performance. As an additional benefit, the fins can increase the car’s overall efficiency and aid in cooling the brakes to improve stopping power. The fins are manufactured through injection moulding with a mechanically-recycled thermoplastic from SABIC.
    • Wind deflector: This clear transparent part is attached to the front of the cockpit ahead of the driver and supports optimization of airflow for decreased drag, contributing to improved speed performance. The deflector is thermoplastic sheet product, which is manufactured through an extrusion process using a certified renewable low-carbon thermoplastic from SABIC.


Adam Sinclair