Audi Reveals E-Tron FE05, Preps for Upcoming Formula E Season
The double is in sight for Audiby Michael Fira, on
Audi is preparing for what they hope another successful season in Formula E as they enter a new stage of full-on works racing in the top EV series in the world. The first race of the season will take place in Saudi Arabia on December 15th.
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The Formula E series is going from strength to strength and the 2018/2019 season is proof of that.
Eleven teams are entered for the full season, which will consist of 13 races in a number of well-known cities around the world such as Berlin, Paris, Monaco, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and New York. As in previous seasons, the racing will take place in the heart of these metropolises on winding street circuits.
The fifth season of the series conceived by Alejandro Agag will see the introduction of a brand-new car with radical aerodynamics that set it apart from any other race car of its kind in the world. What is more, the 2018/2019 season will be the first that will forgo mid-race car changes since the McLaren-sourced batteries are now able to efficiently store enough energy to last the entirety of the 45-minutes-long race.
Audi will enter the season with a pair of Schaeffler-sponsored cars for 2016/2017 season champion Lucas Di Grassi and Daniel Abt.
It’s the first time that Audi has entered FE as a proper works team, although still in conjunction with the ABT outfit.
The German executive brand Audi used to rack up the victories in the fabled 24 Hours of Le Mans race but, a couple of years ago, the company known for making the diesel engine a dominant force in sports car endurance racing announced its departure from the FIA World Endurance Championship at the season’s end. The rising costs in the LMP1-Hybrid category, where Audi was involved with the R18 prototype, were part of the reasoning for Audi’s departure, as was the burgeoning ‘Dieselgate’ scandal.
With the $250 million+ Le Mans program off their backs, Audi decided they should direct their investments towards the cleanest series on the planet: Formula E. The Four Rings were already a part of the series since its inception in 2014 as a partner of the Schaeffler ABT team, but the plan was to go in as a works outfit come the 2017/2018 season. The move was successful as Audi clinched the team’s title.
Now, for 2018/2019, Audi plans to tackle the double. Its driver roaster of Di Grassi/Abt remains unchanged but the Audi e-Tron FE05 is vastly different from last year’s car. In a bid to differentiate FE from any other racing series, the designers created a bespoke car with a spaceship-like body. It has covered wheels front and rear, no rear wing since the downforce is created by the underbody, a more aggressive nose, and integrated sidepods. “When I head out onto the racetrack with the other cars, I feel like I’m in a science fiction movie,” said Daniel Abt when asked about the new car’s styling.
While the bodywork itself is spec, meaning that all teams run the same bodywork, manufacturers have some freedom in fiddling with the drivetrain. The car is built by Spark Racing Technology.
For example, the car’s MGU (Motor Generator Unit) was developed by Audi in conjunction with Schaeffler. “We retained the basic concept with one gear and at the same time refined the details and manufactured all of the parts,” said Tristan Summerscale, Formula E project leader at Audi. The drivetrain is 95% compared to last year’s design and it’s also 10% lighter.
The electric motor is also the same for everybody and it will have different mappings for qualifying and the race. 340-horsepower are available to the driver in qualifying trim while, during the race, the engine will put out just 272-horsepower. However, this season will see the debut of ‘activation zones’ which are akin to Formula 1’s DRS zones where the drivers can deploy additional power. In these ‘activation zones’ drivers will have 306-horsepower at their disposal. The FanBoost feature has also been retained for the fifth season. The winners of each race weekend’s FanBoost vote will receive a power boost which they can use during the race that unlocks the car’s full potential – 340-horsepower.
The FE cars work with lithium-ion batteries, each car carrying 824.5-pounds of battery load. The battery has a capacity of 52 kWh which means it will last for the whole 45 minutes of the race. The FE05 car weighs in at 1,984 pounds which may seem heavy compared to F1, but the car is no slouch: it can reach a top speed of 150 mph and will accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in just 3.1 seconds. The new single-seaters boast brake-by-wire technology.
The first race of the season will be held near Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh in the ancient city of Diriyah which will host the Ad Diriyah ePrix. The event, scheduled for December 15th, is part of a bigger music and entertainment festival of never-before-seen proportions in Saudi Arabia. Nissan, BMW, Mahindra, and Jaguar are also involved in Formula E while Mercedes-Benz partner HWA is in the mix as well, doing the groundwork for a full-fledged Mercedes works team that will arrive next year.
Read our full review on the 2020 Audi E-Tron GT.
Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Audi E-tron Quattro.
Read more Formula E News.