Formula E power boost “worth risk”

Williams Advanced Engineering has stated that it believes that increasing the maximum available power during the 2015/16 Formula E championship is the correct decision, despite the technical challenges increasing the possibility of failures.

It has been well documented in the Formula E paddock that Williams Advanced Engineering were at odds with the FIA, Formula E Holdings and teams over plans to boost the maximum race power output from 150kw to 170kw.

Williams Advanced Engineering, who exclusively manufacturer batteries for the series, believed that the additional boost would affect reliability, especially for teams who may be running refurbished batteries from the first season.

Despite some tension over the matter at testing in Donington, teams were only able to run with full (170kw) power on the final day, which was hampered by wet weather which reduced running.

Gary Ekerold, Programme Manager at Williams Advanced Engineering, spoke with Autosport on the matter:

“When you’re trying to find a balance between reliability, performance and stretching technology you are always going to have people coming in from different perspectives and disagreeing over the approach.”

“Yes, there’s a slight risk we have to be aware of. You’ve got to say ‘have we gone through an on-track testing programme at 170kw as detailed as we would have liked to have?’”

“Potentially we’d have liked to have more time to establish without question whether 170kw was going to deliver acceptable reliability. Given the constraints of in-season testing and also the inability to get on track because we had to do the work on the batteries, that wasn’t necessarily possible.”

“There is an argument that one of the purposes of Formula E is to test this technology and try to learn from it. We want to understand what implications stretching this technology has.”

“If it poses a problem at some point during the year, we’ll have to look at it and manage the situation. But on balance we found 170kw was the correct way to go.”

Williams Advanced Engineering spent the off-season enhancing the batteries from the first season to provide improvements in thermal management to facilitate the power increase to 170kw during races.

It has also refreshed all of the available batteries to ensure that teams are competing on a level playing field, as the management and maintenance of batteries caused disparities in performance by the end of the inaugural championship.

FEH revealed plans earlier this year to allow teams to pool their knowledge to develop an improved specification battery for use in the third and fourth season of the series. It is believed that Rimac and Williams Advanced Engineering are also in contention to develop and supply batteries for the third Formula E season.

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