A closed shop mentality or open for business?

A few weeks ago I discussed the World Motor Sport Council’s decision to put to tender chassis and battery suppliers in Formula E; the simple arguments being that while an open market was good for overall development, the cost of doing so could risk smaller manufacturer interest.

Since then eRacing canvassed drivers and crews from various Formula E Teams to get their take on the proposed changes and provided some valuable insider perspectives into the Pros and Cons of bespoke vs sole supplier batteries in Formula E.

Nicolas Prost was supportive of the proposed move, believing that allowing teams to develop their own batteries - either in-house or with a technological partner - could see a widening gap in performance.

“I think it should remain spec, because batteries – now that the competition is very tight. If one guy gets an advantage over the other it would be like having more fuel” said Prost. “ I think the difference then will be way too much.”

But could this phenomenon already be occurring under the current single battery supplier rules we have now? The idea coincides with a a question I asked Alex Tai o if he thought there was some truth in the idea that that some teams may have found a way to store supplementary energy via larger capacitors?

“There’s lots of different way that you can cheat, but I wouldn’t want to think that our competitors are cheating” said Tai. “I think there’s truth in the ability to do this. Are people doing this? I really hope they’re not.”

Mahindra’s Bruno Senna looked at the argument from a driver perspective and more importantly, one with one eye cast firmly on his financial future. An unsurprising point of view given Bruno was one of the first drivers to put most of his eggs into the Formula E basket.

“It’s a difficult one” explains Senna. “For me the most important thing for Formula E at the moment is to consolidate itself. It’s very expensive and you don’t want the teams to have financial trouble before the championship really consolidates itself.”

“Hopefully in season five we’ll be at a point where teams are really strong and people can invest in battery technology.”

Perhaps the last word should go to Venturi’s new Technical Director, Luigi Mazzola. As the chief instigator behind the idea of separate test teams in Formula One, Mazzola is well aware of how costs can spiral in with continual development in the pursuit of finding a few tenths of a second. But with limited testing in Formula E, he admits adapting to bespoke technology could prove difficult even with rig simulation.

“I think season 5 will be quite interesting” said Mazzola. “Open to the development to the battery will be the key for this championship. Really everything is innovation and development is more difficult without testing, I don’t think could be a different way to develop ideas without compromising the season.”

The battery is an important thing in any electrical product.
It decided the championship