“Vehicle manufacturers learn a lot from Formula E”

March 25, 2019 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
“Vehicle manufacturers learn a lot from Formula E”
Smart2Zero met Formula E driver Pascal Wehrlein from the Mahindra racing team at the Embedded World trade fair, at the Renesas booth. Why Renesas? The Japanese chipmaker maintains a technology cooperation with Formula E racing team Mahindra, supporting the latter with novel chip designs, in particular in the area of energy management. In the interview, the race driver highlighted the close ties between electronics, Formula E racing and the technology for tomorrow’s electric series vehicles.

Smart2Zero: What makes an F1 driver decide to drive electrically now, what's different?

Pascal Wehrlein: That was first of all my decision - 2017 was my second and last year in Formula 1. Then I drove in the DTM, but that wasn't where I saw my future. I wanted to return to formula racing, and for me there is currently no better and more future-oriented series than Formula E. I had very good discussions with Mahindra last season and from today's perspective I can say that was absolutely the right decision. Mahindra also allows me to complete a second programme, which I currently have with Ferrari, in Formula 1 as a simulator driver. So I have a very nice program.

Smart2Zero: What is different about the car from the point of view of the Formula 1 driver?

Wehrlein: It is simply something completely different to drive with an electric motor than with a normal combustion engine. The first impression is that there is no sound, that the gears are missing and that the power transmission is very impressive. You always have full power, you don't have to drive in a certain gear and a certain rev range. You press the throttle and immediately the full power is there. That requires a bit of a different driving style.

Smart2Zero: Does that also require a different driving strategy?

Wehrlein: Yes. Last year you had to change cars in the middle of the race because the battery wasn't enough for a complete race. This year the batteries are much bigger, the cars have more power and you can see the progress in technology. But you still have to use the energy sparingly - we have a pedal on the steering wheel to recuperate the energy. If you were to drive at full power all the time, you wouldn't be able to finish the race. That makes driving very, very exciting.

Smart2Zero: Recuperation is something a combustion engine doesn't have at all. How can you use recuperation to win?

Wehrlein: Recuperation plays a decisive role because we save 30 percent energy and can then use this energy in a different way, i.e. simply drive faster.

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