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Formula E – A Quick Summary

Starting from next year, the FIA will be introducing a new series to encourage environmentally sustainable racing: Formula E. We have seen a lot of concept and demonstration versions of the single seater that will be used in next year’s inaugural season, but on September 10th we finally saw the finished product.

Launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the Spark-Renault SRT_01E is set to hit the track for the first time in November with the race series starting next year in September. Testing is said to be taking place in France, probably at the Paul Ricard circuit. Formula E boss Alejandro Agag says, “At first, testing will be to see if there are any structural problems with the chassis or anything like that,”

“That’s our first aim. After that, when there are no major problems, we will start doing race duration testing and simulations. Production will start for the race cars will most likely start in January.”

The entire car must be purchased by a participating team as they are homologated (much like the format of lower catergory single seater racing) so no development parts can be added unless it is from an official supplier. A shortlist of 10 cities will make up the calendar and it looks to be a promising avenue for the future of motor racing. Current development driver Lucas di Grassi will debut the new car although there is a suggestion that other drivers who are interested in the series may also take part in November.

“We are talking with different drivers, and we will make a list of drivers that are in our driver programme public soon,” added Agag.

“They will test the car, and after that it’s up to the teams to sign drivers. But we have a good number of well-known names.”

During the race, two mandatory stops must be made as the car batteries must be recharged between stints. What is interesting is that the tyres from the incoming car must be put onto the outgoing car during the pitstop phase due to the tyre limitations (which you will read about further down).

Suppliers and Specifications

Michelin are the official tyre suppliers for Formula E, providing an all-weather tyre for all conditions other than extremely wet circumstances. This means that tyre stops are eliminated. The tyres will run on 18 inch rims, a common feature found in most motorsport series’ in which Michelin is a tyre supplier as it brings the technology in line with their road car development strategy. This is probably what would happen if F1 chose to adopt the French tyre company. It is also for this reason that the decision to use all-weather tyres was confirmed.

There will be three sets of tyres per team for two cars, so six tyres per car. This is all they will be allowed for pratice, qualifying and the race. This is an interesting choice and one can only assume that the additional two tyres will be one extra front and rear piece of rubber.

Here are all the specs:

Chassis

Dallara provide a carbon/aluminium honeycomb structure, complete with carbon front and rear wing and a carbon/Kevlar honeycomb body. All the aerodynamics and styling are also done by Dallara.

Dimensions

Overall length: 5000mm
Overall width: 1800mm
Overall height: 1250mm (maximum)
Track width: 1300mm (minimum)
Ride Height: 75mm (maximum)
Overall weight (including driver): 800kg (minimum) – batteries alone are 200kg

Power

Max power (limited): 200kw, equivalent to 270bhp – this will be used for that crucial qualifying lap
Race mode (power-saving): 133kw, equivalent to 180bhp
‘Push-to-Pass’: 67kw – a boost button similar to that of KERS in F1 and it will only be available for a limited period of time

Gearbox

Hewland paddle shift sequential gearbox
Fixed gear ratios to reduce costs

Engine

MGU by McLaren
Maximum of two MGU’s allowed
MGU’s must be linked only to the rear axle
The use of traction control is forbidden

Suspension

Double steel wishbones, pushrod operated, twin dampers and torsion bars suspension (front) and spring suspension (rear)
Ride height, camber and toe can all be manually adjusted
Two way (front) / Four way (rear) adjustable Koni dampers
Adjustable anti-roll bar (front/rear)

Performance

Acceleration: 0 – 100 km/h (0-62mph) in 3 seconds – Estimated
Maximum speed: Limited to 225 km/h (140 mph) – Estimated

McLaren Electronics provide the ECU/GCU, including a data logging system. Telemetry is not permitted, so no live feed of all the things going on within the car going back to the pits. All the information that is available to the driver will be visible on the steering wheel. However, the logging system provides a blackbox for data in case of an accident/incident.

The Williams Advanced Engineering sector provide the batteries to power the MGUs.

Brake material is of free choice to suit a driver’s demands. Drivers tend to prefer slightly different bite levels on the disc as well as pedal feel.

Other additional information is the potential future development of “Energy Line” charging. In partnership with sponsor Qualcomm, the aim is to develop an alternative line for on-the-go charging, eliminating the mandatory pitstops that will be in place from the start of the championship. The series intends to introduce this within the next decade. Drivers will have to divert from the racing line to be able to charge the car’s batteries wirelessly. I would imagine that these lines will be off to the side along straight sections of the circuit.

Qualcomm also offer their ‘Halo’ wireless charging that can charge a car’s batteries when it is stationary in a given parking space. This will be available for teams to use next season in the pit garage if they wish.

Want to find out more? Visit their website – http://www.fiaformulae.com/home

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