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Formula E Opens the Door to the Next Era

The all-electric ABB FIA Formula E World Championship can be said to be the prelude to the motorsport version of the upcoming electric vehicle era. Hankook Tire & Technology (hereafter Hankook Tire) joins as the official tire supplier for this great parade, which will start again with the third-generation race car from the 2022/23 season.

Electric car race, dawn of the next era

Formula E is one of the few motorsports series which became successful as the first race took place in 2014.
One of the main reasons for the success is that it is a stage for technology development which accelerates the transition to an electric vehicle era. In particular, the scale was overwhelming in terms of 'participation of the manufacturer's team', which is one of the most important factors that determine the success of motorsports. This means automakers also intuited that Formula E would be of great help to their future business of electric vehicle technology development and promotion.

Ahead of the start of the 2020/21 season, there were 10 manufacturer teams participating in Formula E such as Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, DS Techeetah (PSA Group), Jaguar TCS Racing, Avalanche Andretti, TAG Heuer Porsche, Nissan e.dams (Renault Alliance) and Mahindra Racing, as well as the new electric car company NIO 333 Racing and Dragon Penske Autosport. With the related technology suppliers, it would be no doubt to say that nearly all major electric vehicle manufacturers and technology partners are competing in Formula E.

As such, Formula E brought in large manufacturers faster than any other race series in the past, helping the series to settle down quickly, and able to achieve tremendous box office success.

Anyone who knows a little about race will quickly realize just how great it is just by looking at the brands listed above. Even in the famous motorsport competition Formula 1 (F1), Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Porsche have never competed at the same time. This was not the case not only in F1, but in any other race series. So you can understand how great this competitive landscape is.

No motorsport series is necessarily successful just because it has a large number of manufacturer teams. The explosive popularity of Formula E from its inception was also attributed to the fact that it was conducted in a very different way from traditional motorsports.

Unlike many other motorsport series, Formula E is completely open. In Formula E, drivers and teams come forward to blend in with their fans. In particular, the driver always tries to interact with their fans if any time permits to help engage with new audiences and grow their support base across the sport.

The United States also hosts Formula E every year. With the initial race in Long Beach and Miami, a temporary circuit was built in downtown Brooklyn, New York in 2017.

The location where the races take place is also very important. For Formula E, all it races take place most races are held in the middle of the city unlike in F1 and other racing series. Formula E was able to quickly establish its race circuits in cities due to the reduced sound and zero emissions of the race cars. Administrations of megacities around the world have been eagerly awaiting a race that combines the eco-friendliness of Formula E with their vision of increased e-mobility.

Location is also closely related to visitors' accessibility. Formula E, which creates a track in the city, shows a very different characteristic in terms of the attraction of viewing. It's a pleasure to see a nice race car galloping on the road to go to work every day. With the tight corners in a naturally continuous route, frequent contact and fierce skirmishes, there is no break for breathtaking tension with various events until the race ends.

Formula E's appeal to spectators and manufacturers

Formula E is one of the seven world championships recognized by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and is the world’s only singer seater electric racing championship in the world.

The roaring exhaust of an internal combustion engine in the race car was one of the factors that drew the crowd's attention, however, it was a double-edged sword that made it possible to build a circuit far from the city. The spectator seats of the F1 series.

Now, let's talk about sound. Many motorsport enthusiasts say that one of the realisms of a race is the 'engine sound.' It's not about looking at the whole track in the circuit, but about the refreshing exhaust sound enough to compensate. It is said that Formula E lacks that part, however, watching Formula E in real life will change such idea.

Formula E also delivers a distinctive motor sound which is sharp enough. In particular, a new auditory pleasure experience can be expected through new sounds that were not often heard in F1, such as the sound of a tire skid or the sound of a race car breaking the air. If the low sound in Formula E had really ruined fun of the race, there wouldn't have been so many people steadily gathering to watch the race. In other words, it can be called 'new sound' rather than 'no sound'.

In addition to these various pleasures, the reason we should ultimately watch this race is that the new electric vehicle technology developed here will have an impact on our daily lives in the future. When Formula E was first launched in 2014, all race cars had the same powertrain. It was to reduce the initial participation cost as much as possible and to bring enjoyment of competition itself by leveling the tools. With this, Formula E quickly settled on the market.

The FIA didn't stop there and immediately began its development of the second-generation Gen 2 race car. That's where the regulation was changed to allow manufacturers to produce their own powertrain so that they can participate in the competition more actively. It was because purchasing the same powertrain and participating in the race was judged to be of no great benefit from the standpoint of the electric vehicle manufacturer. Powertrain production is of great help in the development of an electric vehicle. It makes R&D and testing of cutting-edge technologies to improve electric vehicle performance, such as batteries which last longer while discharging more power faster, and motors/generators which instantly recover more energy.

From Gen 3 and S9, which Hankook Tire will start sponsoring, McLaren and Maserati will participate as new members, and a total of 11 teams will compete in the race.

Requirement for Formula E Tire Partners

The future technology development through Formula E is the same for tire manufacturers. This is because of the unique and restrictive tire regulations. F1 allows one or two sets of tires per session of practice runs, qualifiers and finals in a round, whereas Formula E allows only two sets of tires in total. The F1 allows tire with different traction, while Formula E allows a single all-weather tire.

Hankook Tire was recognized for its racing tire performance as well as its stable supply ability through various motorsports around the world.

It is a very difficult situation for the driver and the team, however, the conditions are extremely harsh for the tire manufacturer compared to the existing motorsports. It requires them to develop a tire which can withstand both the strong initial torque of the electric motor, the tremendous downforce unique to a race car, and the corner speed and lateral acceleration pushed by a driver who does not lift his right foot toward victory, while maintaining grip until the end.

In other words, the burden of manufacturing tires that can withstand these conditions is an opportunity to accumulate data and know-how which are extremely advantageous of developing tires for electric vehicles in the future. Therefore, it is very meaningful for Hankook Tire to supply these harsh Formula E official tires. This is truly an investment for the future.

In most races, tires including 24H Series are selected according to the road conditions. However, Formula E allows a single tire.

In most races, tires including 24H Series are selected according to the road conditions. However, Formula E allows a single tire.

Becoming a tire partner for global motorsports is not as simple as anyone might think. It is important to create a performance that the driver and the team are satisfied with, but the ability to accurately supply tires in the right place according to the schedule to travel around the world is also a very important selection standard. Therefore, an experience of having various motor sports series, in other words, a trust is mandatory.

Hankook Tire has been stably supplying tires to various motorsport series such as the WRC Junior Class and W series, as well as several F3 series. In particular, while supplying official tires to the world's top-class touring car series DTM (German Touring Car Masters) for 10 years, the company was able to establish its position in terms of overall manufacturing capabilities such as design, material, and durability.

Nevertheless, the company had to challenge new areas to become a Formula E tire partner. Sustainability and social contribution were one of the important virtues to have as a Formula E tire partner. This is because one of the founding purposes of Formula E is to communicate with fans at a closer distance with a race car which emits zero pollutant.

The FIA discussed with the amount of carbon dioxide emitted during tire production and logistics in the first place. They set a completely new level of standard that has never been experienced before from the condition where the building materials of factory and lab where racing tires are manufactured are made and how far they have traveled. Therefore, becoming a tire partner of Formula E means that it has been recognized as a company that is fully aware of and prepared for the future environment and society along with technological prowess.

Hankook Tire will begin activities as an official partner of Formula E from the 2022/23 season. In the beginning of the season, it is expected to see Hankook Tire with its 3rd generation Gen3 race car running on city circuits and dedicated tracks around the world.

Race cars with more powerful performance will fill the grid, and advanced technology will flourish in the competition at a higher level. With the performance of the most powerful electric vehicle, the tire development technology will also improve dramatically, which will be another great reason to draw the industry more attention to Formula E.