Formula E 2014/2015: The MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV tire takes Malaysian cauldron in its stride
Free practice and qualifying for the inaugural Putrajaya ePrix took place in bright, sunny weather before cloud cover moved in for the start of the race itself when the temperature reached 33°C, while Michelin’s technical staff reported a track temperature of 45°C. The track was still damp for the early free practice session which ran from 7:45am to 9am local time, and qualifying followed at 10am.
The Formula E qualifying format is based on four 10-minute mini-sessions comprising groups of five cars each and the top of the timesheet changed hands several times. After Q2, the order was topped by Germany’s Daniel ABT (Audi Sport ABT), a mere 0.005s clear of Italian driver/team manager Jarno TRULLI. There were changes at the sharp end in Q3, however, when Nicolas PROST (e.Dams-Renault) came out on top after an exciting duel with Oriol SERVIA (Dragon Racing). The Frenchman held firm to win the day, 0.231s ahead of the Spaniard whose Belgian team-mate Jérôme D’AMBROSIO came third, a further 0.205s adrift. The result of Q4 had no influence on the final top placings.
The grid order wasn’t identical to that on the timing screens, though, since Nicolas PROST was relegated to 11th spot because of the 10-place penalty he was awarded following his last-turn tangle with Nick HEIDFELD (Venturi) in the championship’s Chinese opener. Meanwhile, Jérôme D’AMBROSIO was dropped to the back of the grid, which meant that the front row was finally shared by Oriol SERVIA and Sam BIRD (Virgin Racing), with Daniel ABT third.
The first part of the race provided more excitement as Oriol SERVIA got away well to lead out of the first corner, tailed by Sam BIRD and Jarno TRULLI. The latter two drivers soon managed to find a way past the Dragon Racing driver.
There ensued a number of mid-field collisions which led to the Safety Car being dispatched on two occasions, but the order at the front remained stable until the mid-race car-swaps, after which Daniel ABT appeared in the lead, ahead of Sam BIRD and Jarno TRULLI. More drama followed when Daniel ABT was forced to slow dramatically after consuming too much energy, while Jarno TRULLI was awarded a drive-through penalty for excessive energy consumption. Lucas DI GRASSI (Audi Sport ABT) and Bruno SENNA (Mahindra Racing) took advantage of the situation to emerge in second and third spots. The Brazilian eventually crashed out of the race trying to wrestle third place from Sébastien BUEMI (e.Dams- Renault) on the last lap.
The podium celebrations at the end of the second round of the 2014/2015 FIA Formula E Championship starred Sam BIRD, Lucas DI GRASSI and Sébastien BUEMI.
The MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV tire played a key role in keeping the spectators entertained, as the French firm’s FIA Formula E programme manager Serge GRISIN explains: “We spent much of the morning keeping an eye on the sky because there was a very high risk of rain which would have given our tires a chance to reveal their grip and versatility in the wet. As the start approached, though, we realised that our biggest challenge would, in fact, be the sunshine which heated the track surface to 45°C. With only one set of tires authorised per car for the entire day, the MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV clearly faced a tough test but it rose to the occasion perfectly and successfully delivered consistent performance throughout with absolutely no fall-off in performance towards the end. After our strong start to the championship in China, where Michelin made motor racing history by securing the first victory for an 18-inch tire in an FIA single-seater championship, we overcame the hot, humid conditions in Putrajaya. We are particularly happy with the positive feedback we have been getting from the drivers who are clearly pleased with the performance of their MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV tires.”
The next round of the inaugural FIA Formula E Championship will take teams to Punta del Este in Uruguay on December 13.