Formula E crowned a new world champion on Sunday when Mercedes driver Stoffel Vandoorne picked up the trophy in Korea. But there’s more change afoot than the passing around of titles. The final race in season eight marked the end of the Gen 2 era in FE and the departure of Michelin as the sport’s sole tire supplier.
After eight years with Formula E, Michelin is being replaced by Korean firm Hankook as the electric racing series’ only supplier of the all-weather tires its cars run on.
“When Formula E was being presented in Paris, it was a really big gamble for everybody,” says Mirko Pirracchio, Michelin’s Formula E Program Manager.
“At that time, the EV numbers were very few – there was the Twizy, the Zoe and such. People looked at the EVs of the time as very new, very technological, but far from being something usable in the cities.”
“One of the reasons we accepted this adventure was that we understood that with Formula E we could keep our laboratory approach,” explains Pirracchio. “We used the Formula E laboratory to be able to present the Pilot Sport EV, a road car tire that is a high performance tire for electric vehicles. For us, it is the end of our cycle in Formula E.”
Today, this tire takes everything Michelin learned while developing different compounds for Formula E and puts it out on the highway for regular customers. It’s also the same tire used on the Formula E Porsche Taycan safety car. Getting this tire on the road the company’s “goal of our adventure here,” says Pirracchio.
Now, the company says it will take everything it learned about more sustainable race tires in Formula E to other series.
It already has a foot in the door at Porsche and is developing compounds that can cope with the insane power levels its next endurance racer will produce. Michelin is also eyeing closer ties with other sustainable series, such as the hydrogen-powered Mission H24 series.
Pirracchio says: “Now, we are looking towards other ventures. We are looking to Moto E, we started the partnership with Porsche for the GTP E Performance, we also work with H24 for hydrogen racing.
“Eight years is a pretty long period for a manufacturer involved in a championship. Now is the time to use our technology in other championships.”