Formula E: finding better performance on the sly

Formula E / Spacesuit Media

The teams, drivers, and organizers of Formula E talk until they’re blue about how one of the main purposes of the sport is to advance EV tech. Exactly what that means is sometimes hard to pin down, especially because the teams (and their respective manufacturer owners/partners) are becoming more secretive the deeper they get into the car’s development.

So I was a bit shocked that Venturi was so up front with Motorsport about the new semiconducting silicon-carbide diodes the team is using this season.

Developed by global technology company ROHM, the special SIC diodes have made the Venturi’s inverter 2 kg lighter than the one used for season two.
With electric efficiency being increased by 1.7 percent, the volume of heat extraction components has been reduced by 30 percent.
The material is believed to be capable of withstanding higher electric fields than conventional silicon, which results in extremely low losses of power and higher temperature resistance.

This is fascinating to me, though in part because of the slow drip of specifics this season. Either way, it helps illuminate the lengths that the teams/manufacturers are willing to go to squeeze every ounce of performance out of the car (and battery).

There are two really great high-level reports about the different drivetrain approaches, though; written — of course — by the excellent Scott Mitchell for Autosport (subscription required) and Craig Scarborough for Current E. But even those are more speculative than what we got before season two — back then, Formula E even posted a breakdown of the different powertrain strategies on its own website. (Update: there’s one for S2, too! Thanks to Krzysztof for pointing that out.)

Formula E as a series has been pretty open so far, especially when you compare it to the espionage tactics employed by teams in F1. I understand why this will probably change, but here’s hoping things don’t get too secretive too fast.