The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) has announced it intends to introduce a new, all-electric GT racing category.
The cars will implement “a unique combination of innovations unseen in motorsport to date“, giving manufacturers “a platform to develop technology relevant to their high-performance road cars.”
Sounds a little like Formula E, doesn’t it? But the FIA assures us that this new category will race on “full-length, permanent circuits“, as opposed to the temporary street circuits frequented by the electric single-seater series.
The cars will show similar pace and performance to current GT3 class cars seen in GT World Challenge Europe, while likely having faster acceleration (owing to the instant torque from electric power units) and one-lap qualifying pace.
The class will be open to dedicated electric vehicle constructors without history in motorsport as well as manufacturers currently running GT3 entries in combustion series’. The hope is that some of these manufacturers will be able to convert some of the world’s most iconic GT cars to electric power, as the series works to develop electric technology for the manufacturers’ road divisions.
The legal weight range for cars in the series will be 1490-1530kg, depending on model, and a maximum power output of 430kW. For reference, the maximum power of a current-gen Formula E car in Attack Mode is 250kW.
As the cars will be vastly different in design, manufacturers will have to create their own bespoke battery layouts based on cells provided by Saft.
The new category will therefore be the first all-electric motorsport series not to run on spec, standardised batteries.
Saft’s cells were designed to offer 700kW peak regeneration and 700kW fast recharging; this means they can recharge up to 60% capacity during a mandatory pitstop.
This removes the need for two batteries in separate cars, as was the case in the first generation of Formula E cars, which necessitated a car-swap halfway through races. It will mean races can be longer, while still not needing to replace entire battery packs or swap cars during a pitstop.
Manufacturers can choose whether to implement two or four electric motors, and whether to run a two- or four-wheel drive car in the series. Cars will also include ‘dynamic vehicle control’, automatically adjusting each wheel’s torque independently based on speed, acceleration, traction and steering angle. This is expected to drastically improve handling.
The FIA say the category is ‘geared’ towards reducing CO2 emissions in global motorsport, with a view to reflecting these innovations in the customer automobile market in the future.
A promoter for the series is yet to be announced, but the FIA has confirmed it will be a worldwide GT championship, extending beyond the reach of GT World Challenge Europe.
Jean Todt, FIA President, said, “The FIA’s vision is to make motorsport a laboratory for sustainable mobility. The announcement of this new electric-powered GT car category is a key milestone serving this goal as it will pave the way for new battery and fast-charging technologies. A perfect illustration of our race-to-road approach.”
Leena Gade, FIA GT Commission President, added “The market for high-performance electric road supercars is on a constant rise, hence a platform to allow manufacturers to develop and showcase their technology was much needed.
“Creating these technical regulations has been a key project for the FIA GT Commission over the last eighteen months. We’ve held regular discussions with GT manufacturers through our Technical Working Groups and there’s keen interest in this new category.
“It also widens the FIA’s GT portfolio, coexisting alongside with GT3 which will remain the focus of the customer racing market worldwide for the time being.”
Finally, Xavier Mestelan Pinon, FIA Technical Director, said “The role of electric propulsion in automotive industry is ever-increasing, as we want motor sport to be relevant to our industry, more and more competitions are going in this direction.
“The main technical challenges are battery development, battery integration in the cars and fast charging technology.
“This is crucial to the manufacturers who want to develop road-relevant technology rather than relying on standard components. Also, being able to utilise and adapt GT3 platform ensures that costs are under control.”