Most of the Formula E teams will develop or acquire new technology for their Spark-Renault SRT_01E chassis for season two. The Aguri team sticks with the current package. Do they miss a certain opportunity or is it a wise decision? ElectricAutosport.com investigated this interesting choice and talked with Mark Preston, team principal of the Aguri Formula E Team.
Amlin Aguri was hard to miss in this year’s paddock and on track. The shiny blue livery was welcomed by most, but weren’t seen too often at the front of the field. But Antonio Felix da Costa won the Buenos Aires ePrix and ultimately ranked eighth in the drivers’ standings despite missing three races. Together with team mate Salvador Duran he could count on a fanatic fan base boosted by the team’s popular presence on social media.
When the FIA Formula E Championship revealed the list of constructors for season two, the Aguri team was missing. Did they miss the opportunity? Would they partner with another team? “We looked at it really carefully,” Preston told ElectricAutosport.com and he provided an overview of the situation for next season. “The battery, race distances, energy usage, all those things remain the same. We thought, you know what, we’d better save the money and use it to do other optimisations on the car as we still can develop the software. There is quite a lot to learn.”
Preston pointed out that the team will probably come up with new strategies and they’re looking into software improvements on torque mapping for example. “The battery stays the same and so is the number of laps. The same amount of power is available and the motor should be okay to handle the increase to 170 kW on race power (150 kW previously). You won’t be running with 170 kW through the whole race anyway as there is not enough power in the battery,” he added.
“Most likely we’ll go with 170 kW out of the corners and then dropping off until the end of the straight to save energy. So it’s all going to be about software and strategy,” Preston summed up. The team seems to take a bit of a risk, but the experienced squad is certainly not afraid for a challenge. “We think that it’s a pretty big thing to develop a new powertrain in such a short time and we’ve done one of the craziest programmes ever. We did Super Aguri in 100 days, so we know how to handle an ambitious project. In meetings we agreed that we’d better to focus on the existing package and to do development work and to test a couple of young drivers during two spare test days this month.”
Coming over from Formula 1 and worked with teams like Arrows, McLaren and Super Aguri, Preston shared stories of hard working and making smart decisions. “We don’t know a lot about the Formula E cars, really. In F1, we would have had this car in the wind tunnel, thorough testing, would have done much to explore the car. With the existing teams in Formula E we’ve agreed not to do crazy for the first season, but soon manufacturers are allowed to do CFD, work on cooling, that kind of stuff to understand what you’ve actually got.”
Preston indicates that new challenges and problems that come with developing new powertrains might affect the reliability. “We’re learning every single weekend we run these cars. We’ve got a limited amount of test days and in F1, you’ve got a lot more money and resources to fix a problem in a short amount of time. Here we’ve got thirteen team members and not everyone is on a full-time employment. So there is only a certain amount we can do with a small group of people.”
Therefore the Aguri team, that is chaired by former Formula 1 driver and team owner Aguri Suzuki, is to focus on redoing all work on software and understanding new strategies before it starts changing the package under the hood. But that doesn’t mean they are not aiming to become a constructor. In fact, work is underway to design and build the powertrain of a yacht. “Peter (McCool) is presenting some ideas to VanDutch, as we are doing the powertrain for their yacht,” Preston confirmed. When asked if this would be a good preparation for the development of Aguri’s own powertrain in Formula E, Preston added: “We’ll do it. It’s just that the battery doesn’t change yet. When it does, you can use the extra power. And that will be interesting.”