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FIA “Surprised” by Manufacturer Resource Allocation

FIA’s Gilles Simon surprised by manufacturers’ level of commitment at the Gen 2 tests…

Photo: BMW

An increased level of financial commitment and expansion of personnel at the recent manufacturer group tests has “surprised” the FIA.

Some manufacturers utilized bespoke test teams with over 40 people for the tests which were conducted in Spain in March and April.

ABB FIA Formula E Championship teams are currently limited to 20 operational personnel on race weekends but most have some engineering support back at their bases.

It remains to be seen if the personnel limit strictly remains at 20 for Season Five of the championship which will begin this December.

However, the FIA’s Gilles Simon told e-racing365 that he was “surprised” by the level of spending and additional human resources at the tests.

“I think that all the parties are happy with quite a lot of the [Season Five] car concept, which is a common chassis and the common battery,” Simon told e-racing365.

“But it is true that we have clearly seen an increase in spending already and we were surprised to see that, even for running one car on the test day, some manufacturers were able to bring more than 40 people.

“Of course at a Formula E race this is not possible, but it shows that they are putting huge efforts on it and we will have to be careful of what we allow to ensure happens for it to remain fair for everyone.”

Simon described concerns of multiple manufacturers competing against each other and the “high tensions” that usually arise when several race in the same series.

“We have a lot of manufacturers joining the series, I think more than in any other championship, and with so many there is a huge risk that there will be high tensions and, as in any form of racing, there is only one winner so this will create pressures,” said Simon.

One of the areas of concern is to what level manufacturers use factory-based capabilities remotely for race weekends and how this can be governed.

“I think that first of all of course it is difficult to police,” Simon explained.

“But you know that all these tools are what companies use to develop a car for the road and they employ this kind of analysis; you cannot avoid an infant technology.

“The technology today in the motor industry is at that level and we need to accept it I believe.”

FIA Pleased by Successful Tests

Simon praised the new Gen 2 technical package after he attended the manufacturer group tests recently.

“First of all I think that the test was quite successful from the beginning, which demonstrated that we [the FIA, the teams, technical partners and Formula E Holdings] all worked together productively,” he said.

“It was quite a technical challenge to develop the battery, the new chassis and also the new motor, because each manufacturer did a great job to develop these new generation e-motors and there are quite a lot of technologies there too, so that was fine.

“Our target was to have one car for the whole race, which we have achieved and we have done so with a high level of power.”

Simon reiterated the FIA’s philosophy of assisting entrants in ensuring it has maximum relevancy for future automotive and electric technology designs.

“I believe the main emphasis for electric cars is to show that the technology is evolving and that the range is getting better and better, which is always a concern for any customers, so we are happy to be making advances in this direction,” he explained.

Simon also described how non-motorsport companies could also find Formula E attractive to showcase technology in the future.

“It is not written anywhere that you need to be a car manufacturer to compete in Formula E, so that is not a problem,” he said.

“If any company is willing to come into Formula E and develop the right technology to try and win, of course it is open.

“But until now it seems that it is more centred on car manufacturers as there is this big evolution on e-mobility.”

Sam Smith is e-racing365's Formula E Editor. A 20-year veteran in motorsports media, including press officer roles in both the FIA Sportscar Championship and at Lola Group, Smith is a well-known face in the Formula E paddock, where he served as series editor for Motorsport.com from 2014-17. Contact Sam

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Kris G.

    May 21, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    I’m not surprised by the growing interest and investment from manufacturers, in fact I believe it was expected. With increasing pressure from governments around the world to fight for air quality with many now aligning to ban the sales of fossil fuel powered cars in upcoming years, the only way that car manufacturers can survive in the business will be expanding their electric vehicles offer. Tesla already proved that a compelling EV does sell in numbers (the Tesla Model S outsells the Audi A7/A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class in the US and Europe) and without any viable alternative in the long run (Hydrogen powered cars are more expensive than EVs to produce and the production and storage of Hydrogen has prohibitive costs from a business point of view), electric cars came to stay and many manufacturers do have to play catch-up (BMW, GM, Nissan and Tesla are advanced in the game) if they want to remain in the business.

    • Sam Smith

      May 25, 2018 at 1:47 pm

      All very good and valid points there Kris. The times they are a changin’ for sure and there is no better place to use as a lab and marketing tool than motorsport.

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