Michelin’s Gen 2 Formula E tire is a “great thing” for the series, according to one of the all-electric championship’s leading technical figures.
Phil Charles, technical manager at Panasonic Jaguar Racing, believes that the new Michelin product rolled out last year for the Gen 2 era of cars contributed significantly to Season Five (2018-19)’s unpredictable races.
The new Michelin Pilot Sport tire brought a lighter product to the teams, with each tire weighing 2 kg less than the Gen 1 version, ensuring an almost a 20-percent weight reduction.
“The tires were very different last season, full stop,” Charles told e-racing365.
“When we first went testing, we thought we kind of understood them. I think we initially thought the rear tire temperature window was a bit wider, the rear tire was a bit more numb.
“The drivers had been mentioning that a lot of the time that there was a very clear window for working [in Season Four] and I don’t think it is much of a secret, it was a case of the colder the better.
“So, if you went over the window in the tire [in Season Four], you started to lose performance, so it was kind of clear what you had to do, you had to keep the tire within that window.”
Charles reckons that the front tires in Season Five held keys to getting better setups at some races.
“The front tire this year was probably a little bit more tricky, a little bit more like last year, there’s a window and its maybe a little bit higher than last year, so you’ve sometimes got to get the tire into the window,” he explained.
“So, over the testing period we thought OK, we’ve understood the tire now. The rear’s a bit more numb, the front’s still a little bit tricky.
“However, we got racing and they ‘flip-flopped’ week to week. Some tracks you have to get tires all warm, some tracks you have to keep the tires cool, some tracks you have to be aggressive out lap, some tracks you have to be cooler out lap.
“Probably in general, the more aggressive out-lap the better and keeping the rear slightly cooler and putting a bit more energy in the front too.
“But that did not hold true at every track and that is probably why you got that feedback from the drivers.”
Charles believes that the fluctuation in traits in the tires is good for the championship in the context of keeping teams and drivers working on vehicle dynamic performance on different tracks.
“I think that’s brilliant. When the drivers are complaining about the tires, it’s normally a great thing for the racing,” he said.
“When they’re not complaining and when they get happy, normally the racing becomes boring because it’s too easy for them.
“It’s tricky, it’s tricky for us from an engineering group, tricky for the drivers, fantastic for the championship, really great for the championship.”