Formula E

Don’t underestimate Formula E’s shock 2022 tech change

Sep 16 2020
By Sam Smith and Peter McCool

The decision to switch from Michelin to Hankook as spec tyre supplier for 2022 will trigger a major change in vehicle dynamic optimisation for Formula E teams.

According to The Race’s Formula E technical consultant Peter McCool, Hankook’s successful tender for the three-season long Gen3 tyre deal will bring a significant clean slate to the all-electric championship’s competitors vehicle dynamic management.

Hankook was chosen ahead of long-term Formula E supplier Michelin in a shock move that was confirmed in July by the FIA.

The official tender apart, the choice is mostly seen as a political and commercial one, and comes after significant activity in moving Formula E into South Korea with a long-term agreement in place for a Seoul E-Prix.

Additionally, Hyundai/KIA officials are known to have visited previous E-Prix and held casual talks, with a view to a potential future involvement in the championship as part of their company’s global motorsport programme.

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“From a technical perspective there should be no advantage or disadvantage to a team from having to change and adapt to a different tyre, but it will create a collective rethink,” says McCool.

“Some current teams will have had established and close links with Michelin from other categories of motorsport prior to FE.

“This would have given them a slight political advantage and possibly a better technical understanding of the Michelin tyres. This will now be a reset situation and all teams will have to start from the same position.”

The current Michelin tyre is based closely on its top road car tyres and is not a motorsport-optimised tyre, Hankook is expected to do the same and should have no problem in accomplishing such a strategy.

Because all teams use the same tyre there is no obvious need for Hankook to push the technical boundaries of tyre performance, and the company should easily be able to deliver a safe and useable tyre for all FE teams, according to McCool.

Dtm Round 4, Assen, Netherlands

“Hankook do not have as much experience of top flight motorsport as Michelin,” says McCool. “But this should not be a problem. They have worked in DTM with a heavier and more powerful car than in FE. They have also raced in F3 where the car performance is more closely related to that of a FE car, so they are actually pretty well equipped for the programme.”

McCool believes that key initial tyre data will be one of the key areas which manufacturers will concentrate on when they receive their new Gen3 packages at the start of 2022.

“The teams always struggle to get accurate tyre data that they can accurately use in their lap simulation software,” says McCool.

“Even if a manufacturer gives them best fit ‘Pacejka data’ for their tyres there is always a difference between theoretical and actual tyre performance in the vehicle simulation models that the teams have to resolve (and approximate).”

Formula E Santiago E Prix 2020

The teams have had several years of understanding the Michelin tyres. This will change with the new Hankook products but McCool doesn’t expect it to cause significant issues.

“The tyre shape and size will be very similar to the current Michelin tyre,” he says.

“The difference in construction and compounds used should not be drastically different. I expect the teams will quickly assess and understand the new Hankook tyres without any problems.

“The team that can analyses and understand the performance and performance degradation of the tyres will be able to better optimise their performance for both qualifying and race.”

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