Change is in the air, Formula E is no longer in its inaugural season and though the cars may look the same next year there’s a significant difference under the bodywork.
From the 2015/16 season, the series will become an open championship allowing manufacturers to pursue their own in-house innovations, beginning with the development of bespoke powertrains. What does each team have planned for season two?
Team: Team Aguri
Drivers: TBC, TBC
Previous season standings: 7th
Best 2014/15 result: 1st (x1) Antonio Felix da Costa, Buenos Aires
“We have chosen to stay with the same powertrain because we couldn’t see much change in the rules and we think the McLaren unit is strong and reliable,” Mark Preston, team principal at Team Aguri.
Team Aguri are the only outfit on the grid to stick with the current McLaren powertrain, and as team boss Mark Preston explains, this could deliver results in terms of reliability.
“We want to take what we know works and optimise it to its full potential,” said Preston. “We can play with the software as everybody is allowed to do that and we think there’s a lot we can still learn with this package. So we need to find out more about what we’ve got and that’s before others even start developing and focussing on their own custom-made powertrain.”
With official pre-season testing at Donington Park consisting of six days and only a limited amount of in-season running available, getting the required mileage and performance could be tricky on such a tight schedule.
“When you look at the problems Honda are facing in Formula 1 this year with almost unlimited resource and when you look at the size of the teams we all have in Formula E we are tiny in comparison,” Preston added. “So by taking large risks if something went wrong with the development there isn’t many official test days to rectify the problem.
“We have chosen to stay with the same powertrain because we couldn’t see much change in the rules and we think the McLaren unit is strong and reliable.”
Team Aguri took part in one of two unofficial pre-season test days it is permitted at Donington Park last week with Pedro de la Rosa behind the wheel. The new manufacturer teams are allowed 15 private test days, with seven additional days given to manufacturer’s providing units to other entrants. It was the first time the ex-F1 driver had a taste of the fully-electric machine and was able to provide some valuable feedback on the predicted power levels for next season.
“It was a really good test and having feedback from an experienced driver like Pedro was great for the team,” said Preston. “He’s been testing and racing for the last 10 years for the likes of McLaren and Ferrari and ran a lot of stuff including energy recovery systems. We could just run all day with no interruptions from other red flags and the reliability is super.”
There is currently a proposal being evaluated raising the race power level from 150kw to 170kw. This could have a profound effect on how the teams and drivers use the energy during the race.
“The FIA are looking at changing the peak power especially in the race. The laps and race distance will probably be the same but we might have a higher level of power available. But you probably will only be able to use the peak power at certain times in the lap or maybe in particular phases of the race. It’s not ratified yet but we were able to run the predicted levels to see how it went.”
Running the car at the same venue as testing last year should be a good reference point to determine how much each team has moved on since the beginning of last season but Preston believes each team’s understanding has developed throughout the year.
“We’ve all moved on so much since last year,” said Preston. “Every single race we’ve learnt tonnes about the car and the technology. If we look back we were all naive a year ago! I think Punta del Este was the last proper test we had in December last year. This test was really the first chance to get back to the basics and look at whether or not we are right about the path we’re taking next year.”
Published on 14th July 2015