The eleven teams participating in the 2018/2019 ABB FIA Formula E Championship – which all race on tyres provided by Michelin, a founding partner of the all-electric single-seater racing series – gathered in Sanya, on southern China’s Hainan Island, for Round 6 on Saturday, March 23.
The combination of 90 percent humidity and air and ground temperatures of 27°C and 51°C respectively led to punishing conditions for the drivers, their cars and, of course, their tyres.
The MICHELIN Pilot Sport for the Formula E has already had to contend a wide variety of climate-related challenges since the start of the season, but this was the first time it faced the sort of high humidity levels that are to be expected in this part of Asia at this time of year.
After the recent rainy clash in Hong Kong, and despite predictions of a tornado sweeping over Hainan Island, race day stayed dry throughout, however, and the 22 drivers were able to push from flag to flag in what proved to be a drama-filled e-prix as the quality of their tyres played a key role once again.
“The track’s asphalt was laid fairly recently, and was even completely new in places, but Sanya turned out to be quite hard-wearing,” says Serge Grisin, the manager of Michelin’s Formula E programme. “So that made it a good test ahead of Berlin [Germany] which is the most challenging venue of the year in terms of wear. It also gave us a chance to collect more valuable data and demonstrate once again that the Michelin Pilot Sport really does cover the full spectrum of possible race conditions. In addition to the heat and humidity, we also had to cope with sand blown onto the circuit from the nearby beach , so the conditions were a bit of a mix of Putrajaya, in Malaysia, Punta Del Este, in Uruguay, and Berlin. I believe our third-generation Formula E tyre delivered its best overall performance yet in Sanya and, thanks to its lower rolling resistance compared with its predecessors, the drivers were able to exploit the range of their cars all the way to the finish.”
The inaugural Sanya E-Prix was won by Jean-Eric Vergne (DS-Techeetah), ahead of Oliver Rowland (Nissan-e.dams) and Antonio Felix Da Costa (BMW i Andretti).
The next round of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship will take teams to Rome, Italy, on April 13.