Formula E powering up for seasons to come
Gen3 cars to get stronger and run longer with 'flash-charging' at pit stops
The FIA World Motor Sport Council has set the course for the third Formula E generation. From the 2022/23 season onwards, the cars will be more powerful and recuperate better. FIA has also appointed several suppliers to make standard components for the next-gen racing cars.
++ Kindly find updates below. ++
The so-called Gen3 electric vehicles will race in seasons 9 (2022/23), 10 (2023/24) and 11 (2024/25). At the tender in December 2019, the FIA had still drafted two scenarios for the future performance of the Formula E racing cars. With the data now published, it is clear that they chose the more potent version. Some of the changes go hand in hand and should keep the races varied and exciting.
In qualifying the Gen3 cars will in future have a power output of 350 kW, in the race 300 kW. This is 100 kW more than the current Gen2 race cars. Participating manufacturers may still develop the powertrains themselves, but FIA will monitor the maximum power output and penalise anyone using too much power.
What’s new in the Gen3 cars is a second electric motor on the front axle. As indicated in the tender, however, this drive is for recuperation, not propulsion – the pure rear-wheel drive is to increase the challenge for the drivers. With the additional recuperation power of 250 kW on the front axle, the maximum power rises to 600 kW, which means that energy recovery will play an even more significant role in the races.
Also, the racing cars are to become lighter – in combination with the higher power, this should result in a significant reduction in lap times. The weight will be partly saved on the battery, whose capacity will decrease slightly. However, the majority of the weight saving is to be achieved by more modern cells.
All in all, the energy consumption will increase slightly due to the higher performance – with the many full-throttle passages, even the improved energy recovery cannot compensate for this. Therefore, there will be pit stops, where the batteries can be recharged with up to 600 kW charging power. FIA calls this “flash-charging”. It will allow different strategies depending on the car and the track – either more energy can be used, resulting in a longer pit stop, or a somewhat slower but more efficient driving style means that the driver loses less time in the pits.
For the Gen3 cars, FIA has already named several manufacturers of the components. The French company Spark will develop and produce the chassis as before. However, sketches of the new cars have not yet been published. Part of the chassis package will also be the front electric motor/generator, which is, therefore, the same for all teams – so in-house developments are still only allowed for the actual drive. Besides, Williams Advanced Engineering will supply the battery, as with the Gen1 cars. For the Gen2 race cars, the battery comes from McLaren Applied Technologies.
There is also a surprising change at street level: Up to now Michelin tyres have been used in all races, but from 2022 the Korean manufacturer Hankook will take over and supply the tyres for all cars. The company wants to include Formula E in its marketing campaign for sustainability and environmental protection.
New Formula E cockpit for Daniel Abt
FIA has also adapted the Sporting and Technical Regulations, which will already take effect with the Gen2 cars from the coming season. Reducing operating costs is essential, for example by reducing the number of employees on-site (which also saves CO2 via air travel) and the number of engineers working in the garage who evaluate data transmitted during the race weekends and can thus influence the performance of the cars. Also, fewer tyres and brake components are to be used per season.
But there is also news for the current season, which will conclude with six races in Berlin. After Daniel Abt lost his cockpit at Audi (DTM driver René Rast takes over here), Abt has reached an agreement with the Chinese Nio team for the remaining races. Abt will replace the Chinese driver Qing-Hua Ma, who will not be travelling to Berlin due to the COVID-19 restrictions in his home country. It remains to be seen whether Abt will also compete for Nio in the coming season. The team of the struggling Chinese manufacturer is currently experiencing a difficult season. Nio is the only team that has not yet scored any points. This could change now since Abt is considered a proven specialist for the circuit on the Tempelhof airfield, where he scored a perfect weekend in 2018: Pole position, fastest lap and the race win.
Update 16 July 2020: Following the above announcements, Formula E now also appointed the charging technology supplier: ABB. Together with engineers from the FIA and Formula E, teams from ABB’s Electrification division are currently working on specifications and requirements for the development of an innovative and safe charging solution for the Gen3 cars. The idea revolves around using portable chargers that can charge two electric cars at the same time during the new pit stops.
ABB has been the title partner of the championship since Season 4. ABB Electrification President Tarak Mehta considers the electric racing series “more than a race – it is our test-bed for innovative electromobility technologies, driving development to the production line of electric vehicles and ultimately contributing to a cleaner environment for all”.
ABB has yet to deliver technical details on the chargers. FE’s initial plan as outlined above sees car being recharged with up to 600 kW charging power, FIA calls this “flash-charging”. The new pit stops will allow charging to become a more integral part of strategies, i.e. depending on the car and the track, teams can either use more energy, resulting in a longer pit stop, or choose a somewhat slower but more efficient driving style so that the driver loses less time in the pits.
Additional reporting by Nora Manthey and Sebastian Schaal.
the-race.com (changes), formularapida.net, wae.com (suppliers), bbc.com, fiaformulae.com (Abt for Nio), abb.com (update ABB)
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1) We still hear zero references to supercapacitors – far better/more efficient at storing regenerative braking energy.
2) EV-foot-draggers and laggards like VW and BMW have failed to deliver long-range affordable EVs in the real-world(conspicuously unlike Hyundai/Kia) – yet the two German Giants joined the Formula E circus from the outset in 2013 – constantly telling us that Formula E would accelerate EV tech-advances in consumer EVs. Utter baloney – Hyundai/Kia, Tesla and GM(Bolt) have been selling long-range affordable EVs for 3+ years(unlike FE’s VW and BMW) yet none of those aforementioned consumer EV leaders are involved in Formula E ! Go figure!