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In this episode of “Zooming In” the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team explains everything about chassis and bodywork in Formula E.

4/14/2022

SECRETS UNDER THE SKIN – THE 99X ELECTRIC CHASSIS LAID BARE

Welcome to Zooming In: your insider view into the world of the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team. In this episode, Lead Race Engineer Olivier Champenois unpacks the unique chassis and bodywork of a 99X Electric.

Not all race cars are created equal. But in Formula E, it can be hard to tell them apart. In fact, with some of the world’s strictest regulations in place, gaining a competitive edge through physical design is near-impossible. This puts race engineers under tremendous pressure to push the limits without overstepping them. As Olivier explains, on the 99X Electric the specifications for chassis and bodywork leave little room for variation – and none for error. 

The superstructure of the chassis is the monocoque. This is the frame onto which the bodywork and suspension is attached and into which the engine, drivetrain, battery, wiring loom and cockpit is fitted. Assembling a race car from stripped to race-ready takes up to three days. For racing events however, a spare chassis is fully prepped with everything but the powertrain in place. If required, this can be dropped in within under two hours. 

Despite the enormous forces it must bear, the monocoque weighs just around one-tenth of the total weight of the car. This is thanks to the carbon composite from which it is moulded. Its remarkable weight-to-strength ratio and high rigidity also make it perfect for the contoured bodywork that covers the car. 

Sleek, dramatic, futuristic. While the shape of the 99X Electric might echo other racing cars, the E-class design is highly specialised. For better traction, the front wings and a rear diffuser – not a spoiler – create a downforce to keep the car glued to the track. Every inch of the car’s body is built for maximum aerodynamic energy efficiency: even the front fenders cover more of the wheels to reduce drag. At the same time, driver safety is a top priority. The halo on top of the monocoque protects the driver’s head as does the roll hoop that encloses the driver, while side cones, front and rear crash structures are designed to take the brunt of dangerous collisions.  

With all parts standardized and provided by the FIA designated manufacturer, car manufacturers have little discretion in the chassis and bodywork design. Variance is restricted to no more than 50mm; it’s almost as if the only allowance made for customisation is in the distinctive team livery. However, playing off a level field actually highlights the most exciting differentiator in our sport: it’s the unique combination of individual and combined skills, dedication and spirit that produce a winning team like TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E.
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