Formula E development is going from strength to strength and gaining popularity with motorsport devotees. With its fifth season now well underway, Formula E was the first fully electric racing series to earn serious attention from the media. At the centre of this was the Formula E car, which wasn’t the first electric race car but was definitely the first to bring high-end manufacturers on board. This season sees, not only a new set of Formula E specs but also an impressive list of manufacturers that now includes Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. The new Gen2 Formula E car hit the track and the headlines at similar speeds and is continuing to bring new and existing fans together in appreciation of its groundbreaking technological advances. We take a look at Formula E specs and the top changes to the Formula E car since.
The Gen2 Formula E car
When the Gen2 Formula E car was revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in 2018, its headline grabbing change was the almost doubled energy storage capacity and range. Designed and developed by the FIA themselves, the Gen 2 Formula E specs were impressive, with a top speed of 174 mph and no more need to swap cars mid-race, it was clear that Formula E development was moving at an impressive pace and having an important impact on the development of electric vehicle technology. Following manufacturer request, this dramatically styled chassis is now set for use for four seasons with a possible new aero package from seasons six to seven (2020-21 and 2021-22). The look might change during this time but the Formula E specs will remain the same until the advent of Gen3.
Electric race cars fit for superheroes
Likened to the Batmobile, the Gen2 Formula E car has not only been designed to keep the driver safe, with Halo head protection as part of the chassis, but is set to please the crowds with LED lighting to indicate race information, such as different power modes. As electric race cars go, the Gen2 has to be the most spectacular, its sleek good looks are accompanied by an impressive bunch of Formula E specs and its 280 km/h (174 mph), 250 kW (335 bhp) maximum power and acceleration of 0-100 km/h (0-62) in 2.8 seconds, have already firmly established its place in motor racing history and, more importantly in its future.
From mid-race swaps to Attack Mode power boosts
The pace of change at Formula E is fast and much of recent technological development has been focused on increasing battery capacity enough to do away with the unpopular mid-race car swaps. In the original 2014 series the batteries in the spec chassis were too small to last the distance of a full race, mid-race battery swapping was rendered impossible because of the temporary and tight nature of the circuits and manufacturers were put off. Thanks to the Gen2 Formula E cars’ giant lithium-ion batteries, supplied by McLaren and Atieva, and improved regeneration technology, which allows drivers to claw back energy during the race, both drivers and supporters can now enjoy an uninterrupted 45-minute race.
On top of this, power boosts from Attack Mode give drivers access to limited minutes of an additional 25kW of power, which can be used strategically in shorter bursts or in one single push. Attack Mode is compulsory but not available during the first two laps, and crowds have been experiencing thrills from the blue Halo LEDs that light up as drivers make fine-tuned judgments, based on their remaining power boost levels and position with regard to a circuit’s three timing loops. To add to the driver and team challenge, each Formula E team only finds out about the specific number of activations, minimum usage time, and duration of their Attack Mode boost an hour before each race.
The Gen2 Formula E chassis and improved battery are only the start of the Formula E development story. Whilst these are controlled by regulations, each team is allowed to customise the powertrain and in-car software. With new manufacturers entering the series, this has led to increased competition and occasional disappointment but hasn’t detracted from the close-quarters excitement and unpredictability that can sometimes be lacking in today’s Formula One. The Formula E car powertrain comprises of the inverter which converts battery energy (DC) to alternating current (AC), the motor, which uses the battery energy to drive the wheels, and the transmission, which delivers drive to both wheels. Ongoing developments include trials with a reduced number of gears to lessen weight and maximise motor efficiency.
Weight and aerodynamics
One of the interesting Formula E spec changes that came about with the advent of the Gen2 Formula E car is the minimum weight including the driver, which has increased from 880kg to 900kg but is perhaps not in proportion to corresponding increases in power output and battery capacity. On the tight Formula E circuits, drivers have found weight management challenging but enjoyable and this, coupled with the low downforce aerodynamics of Formula E cars, has given great entertainment value.
Formula E Braking
Season 5 Formula E cars are using electronically controlled or ‘brake-by-wire’ set up. This has removed some of the difficulties experienced by drivers dealing with the contrasting behaviours of mechanical and regenerative braking, as each of these systems works on different axles. The Formula E development of software to control this electronic braking has contributed towards a general trend of software development as a winning or losing factor in Formula E.
Formula E Development
With the development of Formula E Gen3 cars already underway and all-wheel drive being investigated alongside further power increases, the future for Formula E continues to look innovative, exciting and great for the environment. Whatever the series, medical equipment and cover for motorsports event will always remain essential to driver, team and crowd safety. The MDD team of specialists can offer a wide range of expertise, seasoned advice and racing medical equipment. Get in touch with our specialist consultation team on +44 (0) 1992 568 737 to discuss all of your medical and safety equipment requirements.