Formula E Behind the Scenes with Panasonic-Jaguar Racing

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Open invite: Formula E allows for fans to check out the race paddock.

Racing is tough for people to latch on to. With cars too far removed from reality, and a veil of secrecy, casual and would-be fans are often left wanting. However, with Formula E, that is certainly not the case. Throughout the race weekend, the paddock is open fair for race fans and attendees. Brooklynites took advantage, too, braving the heat, humidity and occasional rainfall to see what makes Formula E tick.

Here are the Formula E spec tires, constructed by Michelin.

Michelin has provided the tires for Formula E since its inception. Now in their second iteration, the Pilot Sport EV2 tires are an important aspect to the series. Unlike most formula racers, the FIA Formula E cars run on 18″ wheels. The tires are sized 245/40 in front and 305/40 in the rear. Notice also that they are a grooved tire with a tread pattern not unlike Michelin’s Pilot Sport 4S road tire. That’s the big deal here, the wheel and tire package is not unlike something you would see on a high-performance road car. Of course, the Pilot Sport EV2 is a racing tire, but the mentality of taking the knowledge learned from motorsport and applying it on the real-world product is a big takeaway with Formula E. Also, these tires are classified as a low rolling resistance tire, again, important to manufacturers when it comes to building road cars.

The cars and teams are out in the open.

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I was actually able to snag one of the Panasonic-Jaguar Racing engineers and ask a few questions. Notably, he mentioned that braking has been a big area of development in Formula E. Due to the electric powertrain, the rear axle utilizes regenerative braking. The front brakes are surprisingly small for a race car with 18″ wheels, however, there’s a reason for that. Brake cooling is a very important factor in brake performance. However, unlike a lot of race cars, Formula E cars apparently have problems getting enough heat into the front brakes. The Formula E cars are very light, and with the decel and regenerative braking, these cars don’t work the front brakes as hard as a lot of conventional cars. This leads to brake bias problems if the regen kicks on too hard and the front brakes aren’t equally up to snuff. During testing sessions, it was very common to see the Formula E cars locking up the rear brakes as the drivers assessed the cars braking capabilities on the new-to-them street circuit. Naturally, brake bias is driver-adjustable.

The personalities are as accessible as the cars.

Check out the pictures above. The Andretti Autosport answered questions. The middle picture is the paddock, showcasing spectators wandering around, checking out the cars. Last up is Panasonic-Jaguar Racing driver, Mitch Evans, fielding questions. I later spotted him also wandering around the paddock taking pictures with fans and chit-chatting.

That really seems to be the case overall with Formula E, it’s a racing series that focuses on the real world, and the people in it. The technology is actually driving innovation for road-going vehicles. This can be clearly evidenced by the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE SUV. The automotive manufacturers, by and large, are betting on the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Participating in Formula E allocates additional resources and development towards electric powertrains. This is the future, y’all.

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