Formula E-eeeeeeeeek


Well, I was trying to emulate the sound from the cars of this new race series.  You can go to the Formula E FIA web site and take a look.

It is really to showcase an open-wheeled, single seat, series that will rely on electric battery technology to provide a racing experience.

The above video gives you an idea as to the kind of sound you can expect from this new racing series.

Its not going to be quiet.  No, not the same as a screaming Ferrari V-12 of yester year, but much more like a jet engine.

The cars will all be manufactured by Dallara so in some ways it will be a spec series, similar to the Indy series.  It will be run on urban street courses starting in September of next year.  The thought being that seeing these cars race in a city setting will resonate with fans.  Well, we’ll see.  The sounds will certainly resonate off tall buildings.

Michelin will be the tire supplier and unlike Formula One, where the wheels are about 13” in diameter and have large flexible sidewalls, this series will sport 18-inch wheels and short sidewalls that means a tire much more like what we see on our road cars of today.

The composite body looks much like the body you would find in a current Indy series car with some exceptions.  There will be no fuel tank, of course.  The battery pack is actually a stressed member of the car, much like engines and transmission of internal combustion formula cars are.  It will have a transmission, too. A Hewland paddle shift version with fixed gears and four of them to boot.

The power of the electric motors should come in at about 270 bhp (200 kw), but that is the max power setting.  The race mode level will be about 180 bhp.  As in the Indy series there will be a “push to pass” function that will add 67 kw to the power available.

Another good reason for having these race events in an urban center is the need for recharging.  These babies will need a lot of power to charge all those (40) battery packs, during practice, during qualifying, and for race day.  At the moment it is estimated at 1.5MW of draw.  That is to support 20 cars.  Think what kind of demand there would be on the electrical grid if 50% of the car-owning population drove electrics, let alone 100%

The races are planned to run over a single day.  With practice and qualifying in the morning and the actual race being in the later half of the day.  Each team will have two cars per driver.  So they will be fielding four cars per team.  One car will be set up for endurance while another will be set up for speed.  The deal is that mandatory pits stops will be to change cars.  No one car will last a whole race so that is why the two different cars.

The FIA has demanded some very tough safety standards.  Crash testing, etc.  One has to wonder just how they will deal with the volts and amps that come with this kind of racing.  On present F1 cars are two indicators near the driver’s compartment for the benefit of safety crews.  One indicates the level of G-forces the car(and drive) has experienced in a shunt so that they can get a quick idea of the level of trauma that is likely to be associated with the crash.  The other is to warn that the KERS (kinetic energy recovery system – electrical power) is active and a dangerous level of voltage is present.  In that case the safety crew is to back away and wait for the driver to jump clear of the chassis.

So what do you do when electricity is the sole source of stored power and is present all over the chassis?  I guess we’ll find out.  While gasoline and other fuel powered race vehicles are not immune to fires, the cars have undergone decades of evolving safety regulations.  The battery pack is a new deal.  Just look at the fires that have occurred in Tesla road cars.  A few years ago the battery packs in laptops were causing fires,too. 

Just because these cars are running on electricity doesn’t mean that they don’t require radiators.  The motors get hot, as do the battery packs and liquid is used in conjunction with radiators to keep things reasonable.

One nice thing is that the cars’ weight will remain a constant.  For the engineers this will mean that the chassis set-up won’t be a compromise that has to deal with changes in weight and its distribution the way liquid fueled race cars must.

All these new motors will need electronic controls, too.  McLaren is providing those MCU’s, as they are called.  Traction control is not allowed.  The maximum weight of the battery storage units is 200kg or about 440lbs.

If it lasts, this series will continue to evolve and hopefully so will the technology around electric powered vehicles. 

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