2015/2016 Formula E - The MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV rises successfully to Malaysian humidity
The MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV tire overcame difficult weather conditions to deliver consistent, competitive performance and grip throughout the day in Putrajaya, Malaysia, despite temperatures in excess of 30°C, a track temperature of almost 50°C and humidity levels of between 60 and 90 percent.
Round 2 of the 2015/2016 Formula E ePrix featured the same format as 2014, with a 12-turn, 2.5km track and the start brought forward by two hours to 2:04pm local time in order to minimise the threat of wet weather. Indeed, torrential rain swept over the city an hour after the chequered flag was shown. The hot, damp conditions made the day hard not only for the drivers, but also for the battery of their all-electric single-seater racing cars. However, the teams knew they could count on their MICHELIN tires which effectively proved a match for the challenge
Excellence and versatility
While all the teams are using the same chassis as least season, the latest technical regulations of the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) now allow them to run their own motor, transmission and electronic management system. The rear suspension may also be modified, but the rest of the specification – including the battery – is identical to last season. Meanwhile, the FIA has authorised a power increase from 150kW to 170kW for the races, and from 170kW to 200kW in qualifying, and that has resulted in an improvement of around two seconds per lap at circuits like Putrajaya.
At the same time, the FIA requested that the technological package of the MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV tire be frozen compared with 2015/2016.“Last season, our tire delivered more than the teams had been expecting,” notes Serge Grisin, manager of Michelin’s Formula E programme. “Keeping the same specification for Season 2 consequently enabled them to focus on the development of their new cars without having to take on-board a new parameter as far as the tire was concerned. That said, we will continue to collect data that we will be able to pass on to Michelin’s Research and Development department. The lessons we learn in motorsport are used to develop upcoming roadtyretires, a recent example being the new MICHELIN Pilot Sport 4 tire which features similar characteristics to our Formula Etyretire.
“In Putrajaya, we faced a challenging combination of difficult weather, a dirty track and asphalt which offered little grip in places. Thanks to the information we brought back from Malaysia last year, we knew that the MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV tire would be a match for this cocktail. Thanks to its consistency, competitive performance, durability and versatility,tyretires are one of the factors that pose the fewest questions.”
An eventful race day
The Putrajaya ePrix marathon started for the drivers at 7:45am, Saturday (November 7). Action kicked off with a 75-minute free practice session (temperature: 27°C / humidity: 89%) which allowed the teams to set up their respective cars and prepare their race strategies. That was followed by qualifying which concluded with this season’s new super-pole shootout (temperature: 29°C / humidity: 74%) which saw the five fastest drivers during the group stage compete directly for first place on the grid.
Pole position was claimed by Sébastien Buemi (Renault e.Dams) who continued the winning form he showed in China. The Swiss driver also posted Saturday’s fastest race lap, proving further evidence of the MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV’s tire potential right up to the end of races. Behind him in qualifying in Putrajaya were Stéphane Sarrazin (Venturi) and Loïc Duval (Dragon Racing) whose cars both use the same Venturi-developed drivetrain.
The race started in sweltering heat (temperature: 39°C / track temperature: 48°C / humidity: 60%) and there was early drama when Sarrazin was forced to start from the pit lane after his motor failed to switch on during the start procedure. The car of Jean-Eric Vergne (DS-Virgin Racing) was side-lined by body damage sustained in a first-corner collision with Nick Heidfeld’s Mahindra.
Buemi succeeded in pulling out a significant lead but his car suddenly slowed just before the mid-point. After the mid-race car swaps, however, he was back to normal speed but he then slowed again prior to the finish.
There was plenty of overtaking to keep spectators entertained, and the first driver over the line was ultimately Lucas Di Grassi (Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport), ahead of Sam Bird (DS-Virgin Racing) who had fought his way from 14th on the grid. Robin Frijns (Andretti Formula E Race Team, 8th on the grid) was third and Sarrazin was fourth despite starting from last place.
The next round of the 2015/2016 FIA Formula E Championship will take teams to the Uruguayan coastal resort of Punta Del Este on December 19.