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Formula E

Relief for Sette Camara but ERT's underlying issues remain

Sergio Sette Camara scored ERT's first points of the season at the recent Diriyah E-Prix, but their issues remain as pressing as ever before.

Sette Camara – Diriyah – 2024
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To news overview © Sam Bagnall / Formula E

The recent Diriyah E-Prix double-header offered the newly rebranded ERT Formula E Team a moment of relief after what has been a torrid start to Season 10.

Formerly known as NIO 333 Racing, the side have arguably been the weakest outfit so far this season, yet a brilliant performance by Sergio Sette Camara in the Middle East saw them creep off the foot of the Constructors' Championship.

After showing minimal pace in pre-season testing and in Mexico City, Sette Camara progressed all the way to the semi-finals in qualifying, where he was defeated by eventual pole-sitter Jean-Eric Vergne ahead of the first race in Diriyah.

In the race, Sette Camara struggled to keep up with the leaders but did at least salvage ninth, securing ERT two valuable points, moving them ahead of Mahindra and their customer outfit Abt Cupra, who both remain point-less.

It was a significant moment for ERT, especially as in the season-opener, Sette Camara suffered a catastrophic battery failure which resulted in him not even starting the race. Dan Ticktum did start in Mexico City but finished a staggering 1m 14.758s behind the winner.

Sette Camara scoring points in Diriyah was also a symbolic moment for him, as he endured a horrendous 2023 with the Chinese outfit. Season 9 was Sette Camara's first with the side and failed to deliver any real results.

He disliked the Gen3 car from the get-go and only scored 14 points all season, the third-lowest out of the 22 drivers who started the campaign.

What didn't go in the 25-year-old's favour is that he had to nurse a "big issue" for a lot of the year, as the team didn't have the necessary parts to repair his car. Only now, are things starting to go in the right direction for the driver and ERT, although making the duels in Diriyah was a shock.

Unfixable problem cause of 2023 struggles

"I was very surprised by it, I'm feeling better this year," Sette Camara told RacingNews365 in Diriyah.

"Overall, I think we had quite a big issue with my car last year, which we could not fix throughout the year, like it was a parts issue, and we didn't have new parts. So I had to do, I think, a big part of the season with a problem in the car.

"So I think this year with a car which is operating better, I'm also feeling more confident in Gen3, because this is a car I adapted very badly to in the beginning. The first time I sat in Gen3, I hated it.

"So it was very difficult and a slow learning curve. But now I'm in a better place of the learning curve and also with the team. I'm already in the second year with the team, things are flowing. So all these three things, I think, are leading to a better performance. And I was very happy with quali."

Unfortunately, ERT and Sette Camara returned to normality in the second E-Prix on the outskirts of the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, as he finished P18.

One-lap performance has never been an issue for the Silverstone-based squad in the Gen3 era, as proven by Ticktum progressing to the duels last season the same number of times as Nick Cassidy and Pascal Wehrlein – seven times.

ERT's efficiency 'weakest' on the grid

What was a massive problem last season, though, and remains an even bigger problem in 2024, is their powertrain's woeful energy management.

Sette Camara openly admits that the team unfortunately have the worst powertrain on the grid when it comes to efficiency, something which is costing them in the races but also in qualifying.

If it weren't for their inefficient powertrain, then he believes ERT would've been fighting for pole in Diriyah.

"Of course, even more so in the race," the Brazilian added, when asked about the side's energy management issues. "But even in the quali lap when the same amount you can take from the battery, and your motor is more inefficient, that ultimately means you also have less straight line speed.

"So even in the quali laps with how tight the margins are, if you had a more efficient powertrain then you could be qualify more in the front.

"Maybe not enough to be Vergne today because he was flying, but it would make us, I think, second-fastest car on the grid today, if we had a more efficient powertrain for quali. And for the race, then yes, then no doubt it's the number one thing is your powertrain efficiency, and we are probably the weakest one now on this matter."

ERT's efficiency issues are so bad, that even at a venue like Diriyah where complaints were made about how little energy management was required, drivers were able to breeze past Sette Camara.

"It was difficult, but at some point, the contrast in energy target is so much that they could drive past me, it's not even an overtake," stressed Sette Camara.

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Chinese Grand Prix