Brake-by-wire systems in the FIA Formula E Championship will be good for the image of the burgeoning series, according to two of the leading manufacturer technical chiefs.
Vincent Gaillrdot from Renault and Xavier Mestelen-Pinon from DS Performance both agree that integrating advanced active braking systems for Season Five will help solidify the link between Formula E and the next generation of electric road cars.
The move will come with some trepidation however, as the systems are viewed as driver aids among drivers in some quarters.
The key questions relating on whether to allow active braking have been asked since the inception of Formula E back in 2014.
These hinge not only on commercial factors but also relevancy to the automotive sector, something which Renault tech boss Gaillardot ultimately believes will have benefits for the future of the championship.
“It is one other message that we really want to pass to the public about the efficiency of electrical vehicles and so the message of braking regeneration will be a positive one on the whole I think,” Gaillrdot told e-racing365.
“I don’t think some people realize why an electrical vehicle is so efficient in a city when you brake, compared to the motorway when you do not have to brake, usually.
“It will give us a very good way to increase the range and that is why we say we want to absolutely maximise the braking regeneration and for that you need a brake-by-wire system.
“It is probably an expensive device, but I am sure that for the road car the next future will be braking by wire due to this fact, because it will give you the capability to optimise your regen.”
Gaillardot believes concerns that it will make the drivers current feel and natural instinct for braking dexterity diminished are not as serious as being an overt driver aid.
“The Season Five driver [braking] input will only act to the front wheel as a hydraulic line so he will control his front axle, including locking wheel if he wants, and the rear axle will be fully functioned by the control system,” he said.
“This means by the electric motor or by the activity of braking which gives you the full capability to regen the braking force at the rear axle.”
This means that the system will effectively have a mechanical braking system for the front and an electrical one at the rear, still “challenging the driver on judging the braking pressure and natural feel,” according to Gaillardot.
Concerns that non-manufacturer teams would struggle to compete with the manufacturers on developing its own systems have been expressed at some Formula E Technical Working Group Meetings, the latest of which is taking place this week.
German braking specialist LSP has already developed and run an active braking system, known as IBSe. This is believed to be able to control brake pressure by axle or on each wheel.
“For season five the main difference will be the power during qualifying with 250kW and in the race 200kW,” said Mesetelen-Pinon, DS Performance’s technical manager.
“So we will work on a brake-by-wire system, this is the big new thing. This technology will help us to make more re-gen which is important because Formula E is an energy race.
“But at the same time you need to create some [energy] so thanks to this braking technology it will help the teams.”
Mesetelen-Pinon also revealed that DS Performance is exploring new ground in its transfer of technology from its sport to automotive departments and vice versa.
“At DS we are very comfortable with this regulation because all the engineering we did was part of this,” he said.
“The reason we do Formula E is to increase the knowledge of our technology for the road car department.”
“We share everything. This is not a marketing discussion, this is reality. In the past we did not do this so much in R&D to road cars.”