McLaren to build engine, transmission and electronics for Formula E

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    McLaren Electronic Systems will supply the engine, transmission and electronics for the FIA’s forthcoming all-electric racing series, Formula E.

    MES already supply the standard engine control units which have been used in F1 since 2008:

    McLaren Electronic Systems Limited today announced that it will provide the electric engine, transmission and electronics for cars that will participate in the FIA’s exciting new Formula E race series.

    McLaren will be a key partner of Spark Racing Technology, which is led by Frédéric Vasseur and is dedicated to the creation and assembly of the electric cars participating in the FIA World Championship Formula E.

    McLaren and Spark Racing Technology will work together to design and assemble high performance, highly efficient electric cars which will soon be racing around cities across the globe.

    The FIA ​​Formula E Championship will be launched in 2014. It will solely feature electric powered cars, will run exclusively in major international cities and it has all the assets needed to reach a worldwide audience. As well as being an exciting new urban race series, it will facilitate the development of important new electric car technology which could one day feature in mainstream road cars and be of significant benefit to the environment.

    Martin Whitmarsh, CEO McLaren Group and Team Principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “I’m a passionate believer in the role that motorsport can play in showcasing and spearheading the development of future technologies, and regard the Formula E concept as an exciting innovation for global motorsport. McLaren has worked with Frédéric Vasseur for many years, and our association has been very successful. Working together in Formula E, McLaren’s world-class technology and Spark Racing Technology’s expert knowledge will combine to allow both companies to stay at the forefront of technical innovation and hopefully open up great opportunities for the racing cars of tomorrow.”

    Frédéric Vasseur: “I am proud and happy to give birth to this project that is innovative and extremely rewarding for a company both technically and philosophically. Personally, I can write a new chapter, regardless of my other ventures in motorsport. Confidence and commitment from our partner McLaren is a guarantee of quality and reliability without which this project would not have been possible. The association with a globally recognized car manufacturer is definitely the right way to go. Sport and society are evolving and Spark Racing Technology is proud to be the pioneer and leader in the new field of electric cars that will revolutionise the motor racing industry and attitude.”

    Whether it be in the construction of the innovative and highly efficient McLaren Technology Centre or the use of lightweight carbon fibre structures in the 12C sports car, McLaren has developed and implemented a range of innovative technologies that improve environmental performance. This commitment to innovation and the environment enabled Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to be the first Formula 1 team to retain the Carbon Trust Standard and to be declared ‘carbon neutral’.


    Ha don’t expect any race finishes then.


    I can understand why they would want a standard engine unit in terms of cost issues, but surely the whole idea of this category is to lead to greater development in electric cars through a competitive environment, and that having different engines, competing against each other, is an integral part of this?


    I would have thought the same as the poster above me. Maybe a standard chassis etc, but leave engines and drive train free from restrictions, so long as its zero emmision. Having electric versus hydrogen fuel cell and anything else the boffins can come up with would really push this technology forwards. Im sure a lot of manufacturers would jump on board if the series gained notoriety. Like renault who are already pushing electric vans, and honda who have been going down the hydrogen route. Shame its being strangled to death before its even started….


    @mike-e Perhaps the intention of the series is to promote the technology, rather than develop it. I notice that it will be run ‘exclusively in major international cities’, which I take to mean ten street circuits a year, getting the word out about electric cars. It’s a shame, surely it has the potential to match Le Mans, and probably surpass F1, in terms of road-going applications of the technology


    As above, I don’t really think it’s about pushing development somuch as showcasing a new way of thinking in motorsport. The fact is, as much as the likes of Bernie E can do to promote the sport around the globe, attitudes are changing fundamentally towards cars. I don’t just mean in terms of the economic impact, but how they’re regarded less and less as expressions of power and performance, and more as funky lifestyle accessories. I believe a lot of kids these days think that a Nissan Leaf is cooler than a Porsche 911. Because it’s cool and new looking, and its dashboard is full of little screens and coloured illumination. This is the age of the Apple generation, who value style and design over ultimate performance.

    Motorsport really needs to show that it is still relevant in an age of climate change and peak oil. Look at the criticism levelled towards the Austin GP by the residents there – it’s not the right image for our city, it’s bad for the environment, it’s old fashioned. This last point is the crucial one; F1 cars are dinosaurs. Old fashioned ugly blocks of composite and alloy, burning their way through ridiculous amounts of resource and making a really obnoxious amount of noise. Powering their way around these huge custom built facilities which serve absolutely no other purpose. That’s not my opinion, but that is the opinion of the average lay person, and motorsport really needs to take note of that.

    If it doesn’t, then top flight series’ like F1 may not exist in another 15-20 years’ time. So while we can look at Formula E and scoff that it’s not at the absolute bleeding edge of technological advancement, it’s still light years ahead of the supposed premiere racing series. Don’t turn your nose up at this, because right now, Formula E cars could be the future, while F1 cars are definitely a thing of the past. Bernie needs to think about that every time he moans about V6 engines not sounding as good as V8s, because neither V8 nor V6 sounds good to the future generation of motorsports fan.


    And before anyone disputes the above, consider this. 20 years ago, in 1992, the Williams FW14B had a semi automatic gearbox, active suspension, stability control, and ABS. This year, in 2012, the fastest car on the grid, the Red Bull RB8, has a standard sequential gearbox, passive suspension, no traction or stability control, and no ABS. Otherwise, for all intents and purposes the cars are identical. Both have carbon composite monocoque chassis, both have highly developed aerodynamics with literally no road relevance whatsoever, both have high revving naturally aspirated engines, and to most people both look pretty much the same, bar the RB8 looking clearly much uglier. So what advancement does the most technologically advanced motorsport in the world have to show for 20 years of furious development and billions of pounds spent? Cars which are uglier and less technologically advanced than they were two decades ago.

    I’m not sure F1 has the right to be patting itself on the back any time soon.


    Completely pointless category then.


    I don’t see why it would be pointless. Quite the opposite in fact. It’s a series which is going to generate a lot more interest than F1 if they promote it correctly. Who doesn’t want to see top quality racing action through some of the biggest cities in the world? Those are the kind of venues F1 can only dream of. And cars which are far more interesting than anything with cylinders. They’ll need to get the look right, but this is definitely a very important racing series.


    I’ve always been berated by my more eco-obsessed friends for following F1, or indeed, motorsport in general – they think, quite rightly, that it pointlessly dumps tons of pollutants into the air. Formula E is a chance to change the image of motor racing, to show that it can stay relevant in a world with changing views on eco-friendliness, and keep abreast of advances in electric car technology. It’s far from pointless.

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