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Water Today Title September 27, 2022

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Update 2017/7/22
Montréal ePrix


Faraday Future Dragon formula-e car
Photo: Faraday Future Dragon

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With race weekend only a week away, the city has preparations in full swing for the Hydro-Québec Montréal e-Prix. The barricades that line the course are being erected as well as the installations that will occupy the grounds of the Maison de Radio-Canada. In the lead, up to the event, our attention turns to the Faraday Future Dragon Racing Team.

Faraday Future signed a multi-year partnership contract with Dragon Racing Team last year. By becoming the lead sponsor of this already established e-racing team the company brings its powertrain technology to Formula-e. The debut season for this partnership sees the team in 8th place in the team standings with 30 points. Drivers Loic Duval and Jerome D'Ambrosio currently sit 13th and 18th respectively.

Nick Sampson, Senior Vice President of Research and Design at Faraday Future, took the time to speak to us about the technical side of the Formula-e.

When it comes to the ergonomics of cockpit design "the driver is absolutely part of the equation," Sampson said. When it comes to this essential area of the vehicle the aim is to make "things as easy, comfortable, and intuitive," for the driver. A cockpit where the driver can easily receive assimilate data is key to ensure to "manage energy properly, and use it in the best possible moments of the race."

The driver and speed balanced in the equation, Sampson added that "the way the driver interacts with the car is as important as anything else."

Like in many other facets of modern life, data gathering is central to Formula-e racing. The driver, car performance, electronics, batteries and motors are monitored. All of this monitoring "ultimately makes the car go faster and [be] more efficient, it's that combination that interests us from a technical point of view at Faraday.

Energy consumption strategy is part of the overall strategy and can be influenced by starting position, and race conditions. As each circuit has unique characteristics "energy consumption is going to be different for each [one]," Sampson explained. Teams use a two-car system where drivers switch cars during the race, energy "advantages can be gained or lost by [not] swapping the car at just the right moment."

In most aspects, Formula-e cars are identical, though there are different areas where teams are free to innovate. Sampson did not want to give away any specifics about where Faraday hopes to gain an innovative advantage, he did say that "we need to be fundamentally looking at what is going help both the speed and efficiency of the motors." Faraday is building on its work on road cars. Sampson said, "it's not about the gearbox or any one element, the whole package has to be maximized to get the best overall efficiency."

Sampson explained that "Formula-e cars are not generating particularly different g levels than any other form of motor sport." Drivers in e-racing deal with these physical demands in much the same way other drivers would, with "fitness, [and] a heavy crash helmet on your head."

We asked Sampson to weigh in on the view of whether Electric Vehicles (EV) are better for the environment. He acknowledged there is a view point "an electric car is no better than a fossil fueled car because the electricity that goes into it comes from a fossil fuel generation station." With Québec as an example, there are ways of producing electricity in a more sustainable fashion. Sampson underlined that "if we don't make the cars available that use that cleaner form of energy we will never solve the major issues of society moving forward."

For the time being it appears as though Formula one does not feel threatened by the Formula-e. Sampson suggested that this view towards EVs plays out on a larger scale, "the auto industry doesn't believe that electric cars are going to substantially alter their future." He added that the transition "to higher proportions of electric drive is inevitable." The same may be true for Formula-e.

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