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FIA to Crackdown on Software Exploitation

FIA tightening the policing of software that is believed to have mimicked driver aid traits…

Photo: Formula E

The FIA is set to crackdown on teams attempting to exploit technical regulations in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship this season.

The majority of teams are believed to have used software last season to mimic traction control behavior on their cars.

E-racing365 reported in July that the FIA was looking into several methods to further police the application of power from the powertrain of the cars in 2019-20.

Work on further monitoring data is believed to have been carried out at the Valencia test last week with FIA technical delegates Laurent Arnaud and Benjamin Caron heading up advanced policing procedures.

Manufacturers will have to declare their throttle map ‘corridors’ which the FIA will tighten up on. This will include the switching of power settings within a 30-second window.

These will officially come in to force at the first race in next month’s Ad Diriyah E-Prix double-header. Ahead of this deadline, manufacturers have until the end of the month to settle on their maps which they will have homologated by the governing body.

Manufacturers tested the corridor controls at Valencia last week and e-racing365 understands that there was a variety of opinions on how accurately the system initially worked.

“There have been changes in the regulations on how the FIA is going to be policing some of the application of the software and they are tightening down on a number of areas,” BMW i Andretti Motorsport team principal Roger Griffiths told e-racing365 ahead of last week’s test.

“Some of the detail in how the FIA will look at some of the ‘driver aid’ topics or whatever you want to call them, will see some tightening up. So some of the freedom that was exploited under the Season Five regulations will be closed down.”

The FIA is understood to be looking at a similar procedure on acceleration, and this is where it could prove contentious should the software development and calibration used by the teams stays within the boundaries of the corridor.

E-racing365 understands that the FIA is predominantly looking at the specifics of power coming from the motor to get a bigger picture on how it is deployed on track.

The relationship between the throttle pedal and what is demanded from the battery and the match-up in power demanded is also set to come under closer scrutiny.

Teams have been required prior to this season to have specific throttle pedal maps homologated by the FIA.

These dictate, in Article 3.1 of the 2019-20 technical regulations, that teams must have a throttle pedal map that includes the “power out of the RESS (Pedal, RPM) for each power level, to be declared using 16×16 matrix tables”.

This has to be fully supplied and homologated seven days prior to the first race in Saudi Arabia.

New Policing Tools Employed

New ‘smart antennae’ supplied by Magneti Marelli were used by all Formula E cars at Valencia for GPS, telemetry and radio and are fed back directly to the FIA technical team.

E-racing365 believes this is being used in an effort to bolster the FIA technical team’s procedures and ensure that repeats of last season’s open paddock secrets of traction control style systems are not used by teams again.

The equipment is only used to send data from the cars, while the FIA is in charge of checking and monitoring it.

“We have telemetry for us, we do not give anything to the teams,” FIA circuit championships director Frederic Bertrand told e-racing365.

“We are trying to reduce the number of information’s they get otherwise it will go crazy, so we try to give less and less.

“We have a lot of info and we can select what we want to give them back and this is why it is centralized.”

Bertrand described how the FIA wants to ensure that the skill levels of the drivers are used and not masked by software coding which is often hard to detect.

“What we want is to preserve that the drivers are the ones working in the cars as much as possible and that on the other side there are not engineers trying to put systems and software and doing as much as possible the job of the driver,” said Bertrand.

“If we have less expectation from the drivers’ side then we will reduce the driver level.”

The majority of manufacturers are using the remaining seven days of testing before the end of the month to align their corridor parameters and ensure their cars are compliant ahead of the first race in Riyadh.

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 from 2014-17. Contact Sam

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