Winning in Formula E? It requires balancing speed and efficiency

8.1.2019
Winning in Formula E? It requires balancing speed and efficiency

The Volkswagen Group is participating in the fifth season of Formula E with its Audi e-tron FE05. Here are the strategies for winning the 2018/2019 championship.

The opening race of Formula E’s fifth season – held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on December 15 – marked the beginning of a new era for the championship dedicated to 100% electric race cars. The changes are, indeed, substantial: developments in battery technology have allowed mid-race car changes to be eliminated and the whole 45-minute race completed with a single vehicle.

Representing the Volkswagen Group are drivers Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi behind the wheel of the new all-electric Audi e-tron FE05, defending the constructors’ title as well as trying to win the drivers’ championship. At the first race in Riyadh, they placed eighth and ninth respectively, but at the next race – in Marrakesh on 12 January – they will be aiming for victory.

Efficiency is the watchword for victory

In Formula E, all participants start with identical cars and batteries, but the engines, transmissions and suspensions are developed by the carmakers themselves. In doing so, they compete not only to have the fastest, but also the most efficient car: in contrast to Formula 1, the winner in Formula E is not necessarily the fastest car on the road. “The winner is the driver who most expertly masters the combination of speed and efficiency,” explains Stefan Moser, the man responsible for Motorsport Communications at Audi AG. The battery capacity is sufficient for only 80% of the race distance, and so the driver is absolutely dependent on recuperating energy during the race in order to reach the finish line. In the fifth season of Formula E, the maximum motor output in qualifying is restricted to 250 kW (340 HP). In the race itself, the limit is 200 kW (272 HP).

Another new feature this year are what are known as the activation zones, where the car’s power output temporarily bumps up to 225 kW (306 HP). There is also the “FanBoost”, where output is temporarily boosted to 250 kW (340 HP) for the fans’ favourite driver, as voted online during the race. Finally, another new development for this season is the brake-by-wire system by Audi. Braking and transmission to the rear axle are completely separate from each other and electronically controlled. This enables optimal brake force distribution at all times and more efficient recuperation.

Efficiency is the watchword for victory

As previously mentioned, not only the car but also the battery pack is identical for all teams: supplied by McLaren, it weighs 374 kilograms, has a capacity of 53 kWh, is positioned between the driver’s seat and the drivetrain and is fully charged within 45 minutes. The minimum weight for a Formula E race car is 900 kilograms, including the driver. The electric car can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.1 seconds and reaches a top speed of approximately 240 km/h.

Twelve cities, thirteen races

Formula E is always a well-attended event in cities that host the races. Indeed, the city setting and electric technology attract many spectators who would never go to see a Formula 1 race but are interested in the innovative nature of this championship. The races for the new season of Formula E will take place over twelve cities – Riyadh, Hong Kong, Marrakesh, Paris, New York City, Santiago, Punta del Este, Mexico City, Monaco, Rome, Berlin and Bern – totalling thirteen races over twelve weekends; the last will be held on July 14 in New York City. All races will be held exclusively on public streets in city centres, which are naturally narrower than race tracks. Ten teams with twenty drivers will compete for the title this year, a number which is set to grow next year with the entry of Porsche already confirmed.

SourceVolkswagen AG