Warm-Up Lap: The Tech Behind Formula E Race Cars

For decades the combustion engine has ruled the race track, but the all-electric Formula E series wants to turn the status quo on its head. Craig Scarborough has been following technical developments in Formula One for nearly 15 year snow, and he’s broken down the technology behind the Renault-Spark SRT_01E electric race car used in the Formula E series.

Is all starts with a carbon fiber battery pack that weighs less than 500 pounds, which forms a critical part of both the powertrain and the safety structure while providing a low center of gravity. The big battery bank of the Tesla Model S helped it get a full five-star rating in both the U.S. and Europe, adding to the list of advantages EVs have over conventional cars. That big battery requires a big radiator to manage all the excess heat.

McLaren provided the 200 kW/180 horsepower electric motor and power control unit, and as it turns out this is the same motor and controller used in the P1 hybrid hypercar. This unit can also temporarily provide a bit of extra power via the Fan Boost feature to give popular drivers a bigger advantage. As you might imagine, this drivetrain requires yet more radiators to keep it all from melting together, and binding all this high tech electric drivetrain technology is….a fair conventional Formula One gearbox. Go figure.

All in all some press cool stuff for the Formula E tech junkies out there (like me!).

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.