Hong Kong, China. During the opening rounds of the new Formula E season in Hong Kong, ZF partner Venturi managed to score the first championship points. After claiming the first points on Saturday in his very first Formula E race, Edoardo Mortara finished in second position in the race on Sunday for a spot on the podium. Team mate Maro Engel also managed to score points on Sunday. ZF and Venturi have started an official technology partnership in 2016 in FIA Formula E, which encompasses not only the development of high-performance shock absorbers but also the development of an electric ZF powertrain for season 5.
The first all-electric racing series in the world is getting more and more popular. After manufacturers such as Audi, Jaguar and Renault have decided for works entries, other manufacturers such as BMW; Mercedes and Porsche have also announced works entries in Formula E for the next years.
The cooperation with the Monaco based race team Venturi is targeted for different stages: last season the Venturi car used shock absorbers from ZF Race Engineering, this season Venturi uses a newly developed ZF racing gearbox for the first time. „The timing of the development process put us under a lot of pressure: from blank sheet to the race track we had only five months of development time“, explains Matthias Nitsch, one of the developers. „It was of the utmost importance that all parties involved worked together seamlessly. “ The new gearbox was developed in Friedrichshafen and manufactured in the ZF plant in Saarbruecken in prototyping. Venturi took care of 3D construction, creation of the drawings and gave many helpful insights regarding the construction of the gearbox. Norbert Odendahl, Managing Director of ZF Race Engineering GmbH, is looking forward to a successful season: „We want to proof, that we are not only experts for clutches and shock absorbers in motorsports, but also for complex ZF products and e-mobility solutions such as the new gearbox and the all-electric powertrain, which is currently being developed for season 5.”
Classic know-how meets future technology
In Formula E the retrieved performance is strictly limited. Therefore, the developers have focused on improving the efficiency of the new gearbox by using lightweight materials and efficiency optimization. „We have fully applied our classic strength in gearbox know-how to the future technology of e-mobility. “, says project leader Stephan Scharr. This included detailed system analysis, simulation-based weight optimization, a highly efficient toothing and bearing design as well as an innovative lubrication system. The project team has also developed a new racing differential.
The cooperation will be further expanded
The new gearbox showcases some very impressive performance features: it is very light, compact and efficient. It offers shift times below 40 milliseconds and an rpm range up to 26.000 min-1. „This is certainly the gearbox with the highest rpm range, that ZF has ever built“, says Nitsch.
For the 2018/2019 season the Venturi cars will be equipped with a complete ZF powertrain: then, not only shock absorbers and gearbox, but also the electric motor, inverter and power electronics from ZF will help Venturi compete for the championship title.
ZF Race Engineering as a subsidiary of ZF Friedrichshafen AG develops, produces and sells shock absorbers, clutches, gearboxes as well as other ZF products for worldwide top motorsports categories as well as street racing. After bundling the ZF activities in a joint business unit with TRW Conekt in early 2017, the business unit now has 220 employees in Schweinfurt and Solihull in Great Britain.
The FIA Formula E is a series that was established by the FIA in 2014 in which leading professional race drivers compete against one another in fully electrical formula racing cars. The race events take place on temporary street circuits in the major capital cities of the world. The fourth season begins December 2, 2017 in Hong Kong and comprises a total of 14 races in 11 cities on five continents.