Formula E 2015/2016 - MICHELIN’s Formula E tire ready for another chapter in its history in the streets of Long Beach
After its first visit to a permanent circuit on March 12 in Mexico City, the 2015/2016 FIA Formula E Championship returns to street racing this weekend with the competition’s second trip to Long Beach, famous as a host of Formula 1, CART, Champ Car and IndyCar races over the years.
Long Beach, which is situated south of Los Angeles in California, has been hosting motor racing for more than four decades and its street track is the oldest on the American continent. Mario Andretti holds the record for the highest number of wins there (Formula 1 and CART) and last season’s Long Beach ePrix was won by Nelson Piquet Jr., 30 years after his three-time Formula 1 world champion father won the Long Beach F1 Grand Prix.
The venue, which is steeped in history, uses part of the modern-day IndyCar circuit and this year’s 2.131km loop features seven turns. It is Turn 5 that offers the best opportunities for overtaking.
This is our second visit to Long Beach which doesn’t pose any real problems for the MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV tire. Grip levels are good and wear rates are globally low. The chief difficulties are the painted road signs and the changes in grip from asphalt to concrete as the cars drive onto a parking lot, like the other races that are held here.
As is the case at every ePrix, Michelin only takes four tyres per car, while the teams carry over one spare per car from the previous race. Each car consequently has just one set of rubber to cover free practice, qualifying and the race. This system is unique in world class motor racing and allows Michelin, which has succeeded in developing a new type of racing tyre that combines both performance and durability, to boast the best carbon footprint of any supplier to an FIA-sanctioned championship. Using fewer tires calls for fewer raw materials, requires less energy during the manufacturing process, necessitates less space and resources to ship, demands less fitting equipment at races and makes recycling simpler.
The MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV tire was developed especially for Formula E and has several specific features.
Front: 24/64-18 / Rear: 27/68-18 (according to the system employed by MICHELIN Motorsport, i.e. tread width in centimetres / exterior diameter in centimetres / rim diameter in inches). That’s equivalent to road tire sizes of 255/40R18 (front) and 305/30R18 (rear), i.e. overall tyre width (mm) / aspect ratio (sidewall-height to tyre-width ratio) / rim diameter (inches).
The letter ‘R’ signifies ‘radial’. This size facilitates the reliable carry-over of technology to road tires thanks to the advantages of full-scale testing made possible by the championship. Formula E is the first series to feature single-seater cars fitted with tires of this size.
The tread of the MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV tire has similarities with that of a road tire. It has a pattern like that of a racing rain tyre but is used by the Formula E cars whatever the weather.
Michelin uses motorsport to test new technologies with a view to carrying them over to its road tires. Lessons learned in Formula E have already been carried over to the MICHELIN Pilot Sport 4 tire which recently went on sale.