THE ABB FIA FORMULA E CHAMPIONSHIP HAS UNDERGONE REVOLUTIONARY CHANGES: IMPROVED ENGINES, BATTERIES, AND BRAKING SYSTEMS. WHEN THE GAME GETS TOUGH, BREMBO STARTS PLAYING!
The fifth season of the ABB FIA Formula E championship begins December 15 with the Ad Diriyah race in Saudi Arabia. This is the start of a new chapter for Formula E. It is for Brembo as well, chosen to be exclusive supplier of the entire braking system for all the single-seaters by Spark Racing Technology (SRT), the exclusive ABB FIA Formula E championship chassis supplier for seasons 5 (2018-2019), 6 (2019-2020), and 7 (2020-2021).
Alejandro Agag is the originator and current CEO of the championship and he says the first four seasons served to build up the championship from scratch. Having consolidated the foundations and won over a large part of the public, the time had come to increase the performance of the single-seaters by improving acceleration, top speed, battery life, and even brake performance. Brembo is once again a key player in tackling a tough technological challenge like this.
A VASTLY SUCCESSFUL HISTORY
It is important to remember that from 1975 to today, single-seaters equipped with Brembo components have won 28 Formula One World Manufacturer Championship titles and 25 Formula One World Driver Championship titles, in addition winning countless Formula 2, Formula 3, and Formula 4 championships. One of the most recent to dominate was Mick Schumacher, winner of the F3 European Championship with Prema Theodore Racing.
Committed to continuously researching innovative solutions, Brembo is excited to continue doing so as an active part of Formula E, which will serve as a valuable mobile laboratory for the development of applied electronics technology, one of the automotive industry’s biggest challenges for the future, if not already for the present. The best response to this challenge is to create as much of a balance as possible among the contrasting needs of performance, safety, weight, durability, performance consistency, and cost-effectiveness.
A SURGE IN PERFORMANCE
The Gen2 cars in Formula E are a huge leap forward due to the adoption of batteries with nearly twice the power with respect to the ones used in the first four seasons. Compared to the 28 kWh of the past, the single-seaters now have 54 kWh, which ensures up to 250 kW of power in qualifying and 220 kW in the race. In simpler terms, this is a 24% increase in top speed, which went from 225 km/h to 280 km/h (140 mph – 174 mph).
Acceleration also benefits, as demonstrated by the impressive start from a standstill: The Gen1 cars went from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just under 3.5 seconds, while the Gen2 cars only need 2.8 seconds. Shaving off almost seven-tenths of a second translates into a 20% improvement.
OTHER GEN2 CHANGES
In addition to improving lap performance, the new battery is fundamental for going full race distance, thus bypassing the unsightly change from one car to another. Up until the fourth season, the drivers had to return to pit lane mid-race to swap single-seaters. On top of that, LED lights have been embedded in the halo of the Formula E cars so that fans can see how much power each car has.
Another novelty of the Formula E Gen2 cars is the body panels that cover both the front and rear wheels. This element brings the Formula E cars closer to the LMP1 and LMP2 prototypes that race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a competition that Brembo brakes have won 26 times in the last 29 editions. This is further proof that it is possible to prevent overheating even without the air flow guaranteed by uncovered wheels.
THE CONSEQUENCES FOR THE BRAKING SYSTEM
The increased weight of the battery (20% more, from 320 kg to 385 kg / from 705 lb to 848 lb) and of the single-seater overall (more than 20 kg, from 880 kg to 900 kg / more than 44 lb, from 1,940 lb to 1,984 lb), has obvious repercussions on the force required of the braking system. A heavier car requires greater braking force to achieve the same late braking performance. Plus, by reaching higher peak speeds on the straight, they’ll have to use the brakes longer in order to enter turns at the proper speed.
As if that weren’t enough, while the brakes on the Gen1 cars were used for half the race distance (half-way through the race they swapped cars in the pits), the Brembo brakes on the Gen2 cars must operate for the full 45 minutes (plus one lap) without any drop in performance from the starting grid to the chequered flag.
THE CHOSEN SYSTEM
Taking all these factors into consideration, Brembo decided to use carbon discs and pads, although different from the ones used in Formula 1 in order to best meet the needs of a fully-electric vehicle. On the front, the discs are 24 mm thick and in the rear, they are 20 mm thick. Likewise, the front pads are 18 mm thick and the rear pads are 16 mm thick. There are 70 ventilation holes for the front (6.2 mm in diameter) and 90 for the rear (4.2 mm in diameter).