Formula-E 2015/2016 - Michelin developing new tires for Season 2016/2017
Launched in September 2014, the inaugural FIA Formula E Championship featured 11 street races in major cities across the globe starring electric single-seater cars equipped with MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV tires. With two seasons now completed, in the course of which this revolutionary tire has successfully demonstrated its exceptional versatility, a new version featuring upgraded performance is due to make its debut when the competition’s third season gets under way this autumn.
The original MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV tire set a new standard in the world of single-seater racing tires. Its interior diameter of 18 inches marked a first at this level of competition and ensured a resemblance with mass-produced road tires. It also featured a patterned tread, boasted long life, was capable of competing on dry and wet tracks alike (another world first for a top single-seater racing car) and did not need to be replaced in the course of a single ePrix meeting when each car is allocated just one set of rubber to cover free practice, qualifying and the race itself. The regulations’ only concession is the allowance of one spare per car, and even this tire is carried over from the previous race. Not only does this considerably reduce the championship’s environmental impact but it is also in-line with the important sustainable mobility message championed by both Michelin and Formula E.
A single tire spanning two seasons
Michelin Motorsport’s engineers are constantly looking to improve their tires, so work on developing the MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV tire for the second FIA Formula E Championship had already started when the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) – prompted by the exceptional performance delivered by the tire during the first season – asked the French firm to continue with the same-spec tire for Season 2. This measure allowed the teams to develop their new cars to meet the new, less restrictive technical regulations (motors, transmissions and rear suspension pick-up points) with a known tire.
Season 3: two steps forward
In spite of the FIA’s desire to stay with the same tire for the 2015/2016 Formula E Championship, Michelin Motorsport’s development work continued, which means that two steps forward will have been taken when Season 3 gets started. Michelin makes no secret of the fact that it uses motorsport as a life-size laboratory for the development of new technologies that will later be carried over to road tires. In the case of Formula E, the emphasis is on improving energy efficiency. More than 25 percent of a car’s energy consumption is used to overcome rolling resistance, so lowering the latter naturally extends the vehicle’s range.
This is obviously a major consideration in Formula E where success is founded the drivers’ ability to optimise the energy they have available.
More with less
When it comes to tire development, one of the chief difficulties engineers face is to take one performance-related factor forward without detracting from another. Michelin, which is constantly at the cutting edge of tire technology, makes a point of taking forward all the factors that influence tire performance simultaneously in accordance with its Michelin Total Performance plan which applies to all of the French firm’s motorsport activities, including Formula E. The mission of the engineers tasked with developing the MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV tire was to lower rolling resistance while maintaining the same levels of longevity and grip performance.
Our work focused on improving energy efficiency, even though the original MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV tire excelled in this domain. Thanks to the use of new technologies, we have succeeded in reducing rolling resistance while at the same time lowering the weight of each MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV tire. The combination of these gains will mean greater autonomy for the cars and, no doubt, enhanced performance for the third Formula E championship. As required by the FIA regulations, we provided all the constructors registered for Season 3 with the latest MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV tire at the beginning of May. As a function of their respective test schedules, they will therefore able to familiarise themselves with it as they develop their cars for 2016/2017.
The first-generation MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV tire will consequently conclude its career in London on July 2-3. The British meeting will bring an important new chapter of motor racing history to a close when the original Pilot Sport EV tire bows out. At the same time as it revolutionised ecologically-responsible motor racing, it enabled Michelin to collect technological data that is already being dialled into road tires like the recently-launched MICHELIN Pilot Sport 4 tire. The same process will continue with the latest-generation MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV tire developed for Season 3 which will compete for the first time in October.