Following on from victory at the FIA Formula E Championship curtain-raiser in Beijing, we decided to delve further into the development of the Renault Z.E.15 powertrain with Renault Sport Formula E Project Leader, Vincent Gaillardot.
How did the team approach the 2015/16 season, given the shake-up in the technical regulations this year?
To tackle this new challenge we needed Renault Sport’s expertise in electric motors and control systems, as well as Renault Sport Technologies’ mechanical skills when designing the gearbox and suspension. We therefore assembled a Formula E-focussed group of specialists in order to make the most of the competencies within the Renault Group. As a result, we have been able to accumulate the valuable experience and technological know-how that Renault has acquired over the course of its long history competing in the highest levels of motorsport.
So, you’ve got the experts. What’s the next step?Once our team of specialists had been established, we got to work! We ran a lot of simulations, testing and validating the various components before selecting high-profile technical partners through benchmarking to ensure we are using the best in the industry.
When it comes to the system architecture, what are the main aspects to consider?In motor racing there are some criteria that don't change. These are things like torque, weight and the centre of gravity. But with electric vehicles, we also had to consider some specific criteria like motor efficiency and losses in electric power transmission. Given that this is the first year of the new championship regulations, most teams and manufacturers will have very different architecture. In most motorsport series these differences diminish over time and as performance analysis finds the best solutions, so it will be interesting to see if this is the case in Formula E, too.
And surely Renault’s involvement with the team last year has helped a lot?Absolutely. We’ve been able to apply our understanding of the series to development after working so closely with the team in its championship-winning season. What’s more, e.dams as a team has unrivalled experience on the racing side of things and is renowned for its proficiency in optimising single-seater performance. It is this marriage of all of these competencies from Renault and e.dams that has assisted in the evolution of the Z.E.15.
How do we then translate all of this know-how into a car that can go on to win races?Whilst developing the car and powertrain, the Renault e.dams technical team had to identify and specify what is required to improve performance, as well as validate the various parts and components within the car. We did all of this through extensive dyno and track testing. And the work doesn’t stop there! Even during the official pre-season tests at Donington Park we found a few issues that needed to be resolved ahead of the first race, such as reliability.
And how are we looking ahead of the Putrajaya ePrix?Well in Beijing we had trouble-free running, which meant that we were able to focus on race preparation and performance. Obviously a victory early on puts us in a strong position at the beginning of the season, but it’s important to remember that some of the other manufacturers are not far behind and we still need to focus for the next race.