With more and more manufacturers committing to it, the all-electric, Michelin-shod Formula E single-seater category is booming. Speak softly and carry a big stick. The famous foreign policy quote from US President Theodore Roosevelt could equally apply to the burgeoning success of the Formula E category. Now into its fourth season, Formula E might be the quietest form of motorsport, but with major manufacturers including Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Renault and Porsche, tripping over themselves to become involved, it’s clearly got some might behind it.
As the fourth season of Formula E began last month on the tight twists and turns of Hong Kong’s street circuit, Michelin’s Motorsport Director, Pascal Couasnon, explained the significance of the category and made a major announcement regarding its future and the on-going involvement of the French tyre giant.
“Michelin was one of the founding partners of Formula E – the first global series to showcase all-electric single-seater racing cars,” began Couasnon. “We committed to bringing our expertise to this ground-breaking motorsport discipline, while realising it would be a different kind of challenge compared with what we had been accustomed to.
For a start, it was the first time that we had fitted 18-inch tyres to a single-seater, and these tyres – similar to those used in touring car racing – needed to remain both competitive and durable from the opening lap of practice right through to the end of the race, whatever the weather. Nobody had ever achieved that before.
Today, with the championship now into its fourth campaign, we are delighted to confirm that we have extended our relationship as Formula E’s sole tyre-supplier until at least the end of Season 7.
“The series is set to herald a fresh chapter with the arrival of a new car at the end of the 2017/2018 championship, and we look forward to continuing to support all of the different car manufacturers involved, to whom we similarly provide original equipment for their road-going models. We share with them a common desire to use motorsport as a vital research laboratory, to enable us to offer our customers the very last word in technology. It seems clear that the future of mobility will be electric and, through the lessons we learn from disciplines like Formula E, Michelin can play a part in the development and introduction of a new breed of increasingly environmentally friendly vehicles.”
Central to the exciting racing of Formula E is the MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV2 tyre. Launched for the start of season three and retained at the request of the FIA for season four, the MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV2 boasts a remarkable 16 per cent reduction in rolling resistance compared to its predecessor, but without compromising grip across all conditions – wet, dry, cold or hot.
In a category that seeks to minimise the environmental impact of motorsport, this 16 per cent reduction in rolling resistance equates to a further 2km of racing range for the all-electric Formula E singer-seaters. At most circuits, those extra two kilometres represent another full lap of exciting, wheel-to-wheel racing.
In motorsport, one of the keys to success is the ability to collect and analyse data in order to understand the performance of a car. Accordingly, as was the case with its predecessor, every MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV2 incorporates an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device) chip embedded in its side wall. First and foremost, this chip makes the tyres traceable and allows the FIA to verify that all drivers are using the tyres that they have been allocated. After three successful seasons in Formula E, Michelin continues to trial pioneering technologies in its motorsport tyres, whose benefits are duly transferred across to the brand’s mass-market products. The first road tyre to benefit from the lessons learned on the racetrack with the Pilot Sport EV was the MICHELIN Pilot Sport 4, which is currently available for all cars with rim diameters of between 17 and 20 inches.
The next round of the Formula E Championship hits the Circuit Moulay El Hassan in Marrakech, Morocco on January 13. At 3km in length, the semi-permanent Moroccan circuit is the longest on the Formula E calendar and allows the cars to stretch their legs all the way to 225km/h. From Morocco, the season travels to Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, and the USA. In a further sign of the world embracing Formula E, the Swiss round represents that country’s first official circuit-based motorsport event since 1955.