Formula E: Season preview part 2 – the car!
The FIA Formula E racing car, the Spark-Renault SRT_01E is one of the most innovative creations in Motorsport of recent years. The car’s design and manufacture is a result of a consortium of groups in the automotive world coming together to design all the different parts of the car.
The car itself was built by Spark Racing Technology, with Italian company Dallara (famous for designing cars for GP2 and IndyCar), constructing the chassis; ensuring that the aerodynamics of the car promote as much overtaking as possible whilst still remaining strong enough to prevent serious injury in the event of a crash.
The electric motor powering the Spark is provided by McLaren electronics and is the same as that seen on their famous P1 hyper-car. The battery is provided by rival F1 team Williams. The 200 kilowatt battery is capable of producing the equivalent of 270 brake horsepower. This equates to a 0-60 time of 3 seconds and a top speed of 150mph. However the motor is turned down for the race, meaning that the motor is producing 202.5 bhp, with a boost of up to 241 bhp if the car is subjected to the Fanboost. The battery is unable to last an entire race distance and with a charging time of 50 minutes, drivers will have to undertake a mandatory pit-stop to change from one car to a second. For the second season of Formula E, the teams will be allowed to develop their batteries to try and extend the running time. The power unit is linked to a 5 speed paddle shift sequential gearbox which features fixed gear ratios in a bid to reduce cost.
Whilst the overall design of the car is kept the same in all cars, unlike Formula One where teams can shape their cars differently, and the gear ratios are fixed, there are still areas of the cars tuning and set-up that can be altered to give a driver an edge over his/her competitors. The ride height, roll-bars and dampers are all adjustable, with the car able to reach a maximum height of 75 millimetres from floor to track to allow for travel over the uneven and demanding surfaces of street circuits. Other aspects such as the brake material are of free choice and are usually left down to what the driver prefers, as seen in Formula One between Mercedes team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Michelin are the sole tyre supplier for the Formula E World Championship. The French company have developed a unique 18 inch treaded tyre which can be used in both wet and dry conditions. This eliminates the need for extra tyre compounds for use in different conditions. The tyre is also extremely durable and is able to last for the entire day of racing; including both practice sessions, qualifying and the race. As a result, the drivers are provided with only 5 sets of tyres per race event. The tyre life and lack of extra compounds means that the aim to save as much money as possible is met.
The sound of a racing car is one of the most iconic products of Motorsport. The ear splitting volume of Formula One’s engines in the past, to the thundering V8 muscle of NASCAR; any fan will tell you that the sound of a racing car is important to the fans. Due to it’s all electric power unit, the Formula E Renault-Spark is quieter than it’s fellow single seaters. However, it is far from silent. At full throttle the car is around 80 decibels, 10 higher than a petrol road car.
Safety is perhaps one of the most important aspects of Motorsport in this day and age. The Formula E racing car is designed to comply with every safety test conducted by the FIA. The car is made out of strong but light carbon fibre which is capable of protecting against impact and object intrusion. Standardised single seater safety features such as roll hoops and wheel tethers also help to fulfil all required safety standards.
All in all, the Formula E racing car is one of the most exciting Motorsport projects and should provide close, safe and exciting racing across the globe. The third part of the RTR Sports Formula E season preview will focus on the locations across the globe that the Formula E 2014/2015 world championship will travel to.