Constructors and questions

Current E Putrajaya 201114 McLaren motor

Today’s revelations about series two manufacturers appear to have caught many of those mentioned entirely by surprise. As press people rush to compile releases, here’s the situation as we understand it.

“It is fantastic news,” says Marc Priestley, technical analyst for ITV’s Formula E coverage. “It is exactly what the series needed. Technology development is the whole ethos of the championship. It’s great news to see so many companies on board.”

What isn’t immediately clear, however, is exactly which companies are on board, and who is working with whom. Technical journalist Craig Scarborough pinpoints part of the issue: “The list is a bit light on big manufacturers and there are a few names I don’t recognise.”

It turns out that all of those announced today are closely connected to current Formula E teams.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • Teams are not the same as constructors. Constructors build parts, teams race cars. So the announcement that eight constructors will join the field does not necessarily indicate a reduced number of teams
  • The eight constructors announced today for season two are additional to those already involved (ie McLaren, Hewland, Williams et al). Discounting the battery, that means powertrains could be fielded by nine manufacturers in season two
  • They’ll be permitted to develop their own inverters, gearboxes, motors and cooling systems
  • Motomatic is some sort of joint venture between the Trulli Formula E team and an Italian electronics company called Tecnomatic
  • “NextEV TCR” appears to involve Team China Racing and its principal sponsor and technical advisor, Omi-Gear
  • It seems that teams are not obliged to use the products on offer from the eight new entries – so Dragon Racing and Amlin Aguri (the only teams without a manufacturing entity) can stick with the package already provided if they choose
  • The chassis remains the same in year two, so powertrain manufacturers will have to work within the constraints of what they already have

What we don’t yet know:

  • Is McLaren working on upgrades to its package for season two, including an uprated motor and gearbox combo?
  • Where does Andretti fit into the picture as a manufacturer? What’s the motivation? Which suppliers will the team be working with?
  • Ditto for Virgin (although we know that the brand encompasses high tech manufacturing efforts already, most notably with its space programme)
  • Will ABT’s tech come from Audi (which has promised an all-electric R8)?
  • Why is Amlin Aguri not on the list? When we spoke to the team’s tech boss, Peter McCool, in Buenos Aires, he was telling us that he had great plans for season two. Does this signal that the team is on shaky ground?
  • Will Motomatic, NextEV TCR and RenaultSport replace Trulli, China Racing and e.dams respectively, or will they simply be manufacturing partners?
  • How much will teams be able to “repackage” the chassis around new powertrain components, or will they be unable to fundamentally alter the chassis in any way?
  • Will the powertrains be restricted to just one motor, or will the regulations allow for two (as did the original draft of the first season regs)?
  • How will new motors (or MGUs, to give them their technical moniker) and transmissions affect regen, and how are the manufacturers going to be able to seamlessly integrate these with what is still a big box of secrets (ie the battery)?

We’ll keep digging and bring you more when we have it.

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