The FIA World Motor Sport Council has announced decisions on the future of various racing series. The trend – particularly in rallying – is increasingly towards electric drives.
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The purely electric Formula E has been around since 2014, and the Formula 1 racing cars of Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Co. are now also equipped with a complex hybrid drive. But while Formula 1 is still busy arguing about engine rules from 2021 onwards, the FIA has made some major decisions for future drive systems in other world championships.
The increasingly popular World Rallycross Championship (WRX) is to become fully electric in the long term. From 2021, the first electric cars will compete in the WRX – together with the previous supercars with combustion engines. The FIA speaks of a “gradual introduction” of electric cars in the WRX, whereby from 2021 there will still be a mixture between electric cars and combustion engines for “at least one year”.
For a period of four years, a unit drive with two electric motors with an output of between 400 and 500 kW is planned. The electric drive is ideal for the short sprint races – the WRX will feature several short qualifying races and a final run. A FIA Junior eRX Championship with all-wheel drive electric cars with a power output of around 250 kW is already being announced for 2021.
Hybrid cars will soon be used in the World Rally Championship (WRC). From 2022, a hybrid system will be installed in addition to the petrol engine, which will consist of common components and software for the first three years. From 2024, the technical freedom for manufacturers is to be gradually increased. The aim is for cars to be able to drive purely electrically during urban stages.
In Formula E, only details have been changed. In the “attack mode”, which every driver has to use twice per race, the power increases from 225 to 235 kW. In the rest of the race, a maximum of 200 kW may be used. The calendar for the 2019/2020 season has also been published: 14 races will take place in twelve cities on four continents. The season starts with a double race at the end of November in Saudi Arabia and ends in July with two races in London. The German race will remain in Berlin (30 May), with a new race in the South Korean capital Seoul on 3 May 2020.
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Together with the FIA, the French automobile club ACO has published the technical regulations for the top class of the 24 Hours of Le Mans (and the World Endurance Championship WEC). The new hypercars will replace the current LMP1 racing cars and will be more reminiscent of road vehicles. A hybrid system is not mandatory but allowed. Two manufacturers have already announced their intention to build such a racing car. Toyota wants to use a hybrid drive in any case, while Aston Martin is currently testing the concept.
Update 21 April 2020: In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the FIA has overturned the timetable for the electrification of the WRX. Instead of 2021, electric cars are now to compete in the World Rallyecross Championship for the first time in 2022. This should reduce the financial burden on the teams. Formula E already postponed the introduction of the new EVO Gen2 car by one year and also adjusted the rules for the further development of the drive system.
The unit drives for the electric WRX cars are developed by the Austrian company Kreisel Electric. CEO Philipp Kreisel said that the company fully supports the postponement: “As we have nearly completed the development of the electric race kit, and have put a lot of energy and passion into this project, it is disappointing that we won’t be able to see the electrified World RX cars next year,” said Kreisel. “Nevertheless, we are absolutely convinced that by remaining unified we can make the electrification of World RX a huge success when it does happen.”