The Formula E newcomer faces the biggest Gen3 task – the race | CarTailz

The task that Hankook had to master in the somewhat surprising tender to supply the entire Formula E grid with tires for the Gen3 period should not be underestimated.

The company had never supplied an all-weather product for a single seater – or indeed any category other than traditional intermediate – in its long history of racing.

The first tests of a special ‘mule’ car, believed to be a 2019 specification Formula 2 car, albeit heavily modified and weighted, took place in late summer 2021.

From there, the first real test and development FE car without a body was tested on the circuit.

But in reality, Hankook had already done a mountain of work with its designers and engineers, many of whom had recent DTM and Formula 3 experience.

The team will be led on the way to Formula E by chief engineer Thomas Baltes, who previously worked in the DTM.

He describes the new product as a “pretty good compromise” as he thinks “it’s going to be quite challenging for drivers”.

When you add the new cars and driver movement into the mix, with 13 of the 22-strong 2022 grid driving into 2023 for a different team, “their whole world has completely changed and the cars have completely changed,” says Baltes The race.

The disruption of some tests clearly went beyond what is usual in a new technical rulebook and has impacted Hankook to some extent.

But Baltes feels that a shared work ethic for the sake of the Championship was both a necessary attitude and had a positive impact.

“We had technical problems [with the car] But all of us, including the tire side, are doing our best to have the best solution for the package,” he says.

Preparations for Hankook began in 2020/21 when Baltes and other company employees, most notably Hankook’s Motorsport Director Manfred Sandbichler, began visiting the Formula E paddock.

In a variety of races, Baltes and his colleagues have obtained as much information as possible from the track surface. From the smoothness of Mexico City, the billiard smoothness of a constantly re-emerging Monaco, to the whimsical, antique finish of Tempelhof, Formula E throws up a wide range of racing dance floors.

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But even in 2023 there will be at least three unknowns for everyone: Hyderabad, Cape Town and Sao Paulo, all of which will be held in the first five events of the season. That’s a huge challenge.

“We also measure on the asphalt [of previous tracks used] It’s definitely different with other projects, because depending on the location, the asphalt on a road surface isn’t entirely smooth,” says Baltes.

“But it’s not just the tyre, it’s the whole technical package where they also have to find some solutions for the battery, the powertrain and so on. I think there is still a lot of homework for all of us.

“I would say we are on a pretty good base, which is also being tested by most teams, and they agreed that it can go that way.

“We don’t have heating, nothing, so the tires should come back pretty quickly and get more or less in the same performance window. That is possible at the moment.”

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Initial feedback from teams and drivers was mixed at best. Since then, several engineers have pointed out to The Race that Hankook has produced a strong product under the circumstances.

The final specification of the connection to be used came relatively late (early November), with other alternatives known to have been tried.

It is understood that the main concern was in wet conditions, where grip levels were described as ‘minimal’ by a team engineer.

So the various compound chemistries and constructions have been evaluated and the teams now have the opportunity to understand more and develop their own strategies, cambers and pressures to ensure they find performance windows to exploit.

“We will also have something like a minimum pressure that the FIA ​​boys will give us at the weekend,” said Baltes

“It’s not finally decided yet, but it will also be released over the weekend, so teams have to accept it and follow it.

“I would say the most important thing is to get the power window under control; that’s the biggest homework for the tires now.

“From the pressure side, the teams are more or less open. We don’t give so many values ​​that they have to accept, it’s just our minimum pressure.

“We’ve seen that even during the first rounds of testing that a lot of teams are testing really different things, including what’s able to get the tire working again, into the performance window, so we’re definitely going to see different possibilities.”

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This poses a real challenge for engineers, especially when trying to match their vehicle dynamics with what they have systemically in the powertrain and software.

The Hankooks are durable with a low wear rate and early indications are that they are recovering from blocking episodes.

Teams are obviously coy with what they’ve learned from testing so far, but there are basic things like a lot of understeer. The teams and drivers have not yet found a good balance with the two axles.

The first attempts to understand how the Gen3 car works with the Hankooks will be to get the two axles roughly in the right zone to see how the tires, which don’t have the benefit of tire warmers, bring to a usable temperature.

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Hankook promises that its everyday consumers will benefit from the development of the new Formula E racing tires through technology transfer. The new iON road tires for summer (Hankook iON evo) and winter (Hankook iON Winter) offer “resource-saving mobility for modern premium electric cars”.

The significantly lower rolling resistance will also “more range, high traction even on wet roads and very good braking performance for maximum safety and high durability reflect the demands that electric cars place on their tires to a particular extent”.

In short, this is the main reason why Hankook bid on the tender and won. It made it possible to work on a marketing and technical strategy focused on a sustainability series because it sparked a sustainability revolution in their own company.

Maintaining the good will of the teams, and especially the drivers, will be a whole different challenge in Formula E.

Hankook got off to a strong start, but Gen3 isn’t showing any signs of shedding some throbbing growing pains just yet, particularly in the project’s battery and spares areas.

For everyone in the Formula E paddock, therefore, 2023 will be a season of learning, adapting and storing knowledge for Gen3 seasons to come.

Hankook will be a big part of that and should have a big say for 2023 at least as to which team and driver can find the advantages that make the difference in the only all-electric World Championship.

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