Porsche wants to unlock battery development in Formula E

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Since the championship’s inception, the battery has been a single-spec component.

It was first supplied by Williams Advanced Engineering [WAE] prior to a switch to McLaren Applied for Gen2, but WAE has won back the tender for Gen3 beginning in 2022-23.

For the advent of the new 470bhp machines, the battery will again remain standardised. But Porsche wishes to see it opened to become an area of development in the future.

While there has been a muted desire for this previously, fears over a subsequent and marked rise in manufacturer budgets has been the biggest obstacle.

However, Porsche’s new motorsport boss Thomas Laudenbach has proposed a halfway house by ensuring that any battery development is only permitted within strict limits.

When asked by about future technical regulations in Formula E, Laudenbach said: “Due to cost reasons, they didn’t want to open up the battery for manufacturers, which we have to accept.

“On the other side, the battery is the one to look at in the future. We’ve already had some talks.

“Even in a controlled way, we would like to see that the battery in some way is opened to development of the manufacturers.

“Leave it free is not the right way to go.

“What we don’t want is somebody to spend a fortune – because they’ve got a partner on the road cars, and they do everything for you – because that would kill the small teams.”

Laudenbach proposed “a standard cell but the rest is free, within certain boundary conditions”.

This comes as Formula E has announced a cost-cap that will come into effect on 1 October 2022, with manufacturers given a budget of €25 million over two consecutive seasons to cover research and development.

Pascal Wehrlein, Porsche, Porsche 99X Electric

Pascal Wehrlein, Porsche, Porsche 99X Electric

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

The debate over battery freedom raises the question of where Formula E sits as a development test bed for manufacturers.

Mercedes (citing Formula 1 as a more relevant alternative) and BMW specifically called this into question in their statements announcing their exits from the championship alongside Audi.

As the electric powertrain is already 90% efficient, at a conservative measure, this leaves the battery as the greatest area of development potential going forward for Formula E.

Laudenbach continued: “We would like to see that in a controlled way the freedom for development is opened up in the battery.

“I’m not blaming the Formula E organisation because it is a tricky thing to do.

“We are we are talking to them, and I think it will come.”

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Porsche is currently committed to Formula E until the end of the 2023-24 season.

Championship co-founder Alejandro Agag said on broader technical rules: “Freedom equals money, sadly.

“The more freedom you give, the more money the teams have to spend and then after a little bit they run out of money, and they leave the championship.”

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