Last Thursday’s Season Six finale marked the first victory for the Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team. But after a rollercoaster of action-packed racing in Berlin, podium finishes for either of the drivers were far from certain. If anything, Berlin’s ups and downs are proof that in Formula E, expecting the unexpected and planning accordingly is the name of the game.
So how does the Team prepare for the inevitable curveballs, and how does Vestas help boost the Team’s competitive advantage? The weather data used for developing wind farms might not be the first thing you’d think of, but this kind of insight is highly valuable for making sure the Team is prepared for any unforeseen circumstances on race day.
Collaborating for competitive advantage
Vestas meteorologist Thomas Alsbirk has worked closely with the Team’s performance engineers throughout Season Six, developing a custom package of meteorology insights to optimise the Team’s race strategy – all using decades of high-resolution climatological data from the Vestas Climate Library.
The package includes 20 years’ worth of hourly historical data, used to pre-assess the race conditions on site, to ultra high-fidelity local area weather models over the racetrack from Vestas’ own supercomputer, “Mindstorm”. Manual analyses are also used to account for any elements that the forecasts may not have predicted.
This kind of foresight is key to determining the optimal performance and the right battery management approach for the race cars. The battery and powertrain in Formula E cars operate within specific temperature windows, and the battery will automatically shut down if those temperatures are exceeded. The optimal battery drain throughout the race is also highly dependent on ambient and track temperatures. Weather conditions can thus mean the difference between finishing on the podium, or not finishing at all. The more information the Team has about these conditions, the better they can devise the right strategy and react quickly when necessary.
Find out more from Thomas in the video about how our collaboration is keeping the Team #PoweredbyVestas.
At the races in Berlin, weather played a particularly important role. The concrete blocks of the Tempelhof circuit have a slightly lower grip than the asphalt of city centres where Formula E races usually take place. This takes a unique toll on the cars’ energy levels and tyres, making reliable weather forecasting even more crucial. And on the last day of racing, the two primary weather models showed contradictory forecasts due to potential shower build-up – throwing extra uncertainty into an already high-stakes race.
“The uncertainty in the forecasts for the final qualifying and race of the season meant a great risk to us. We had one of the fastest cars on the grid; however, weather is one of the major external factors that can turn the tables quickly,” explains Alex Bodo, Race Strategist for the Team. “Intense communication across the day with Vestas’ weather experts helped us remain ahead of the game and to gear planning around the most likely weather scenarios.”
That close contact and the Team’s strategic choices had a clear payoff in the final race. And while Vestas’ meteorology insights have proven highly beneficial for the Team, our collaboration has also brought valuable knowledge back to Vestas for validating our own weather models.
“The Team have their own weather station at the track, and Vestas’ weather data can be directly compared to the track data to verify and fine-tune our models,” Thomas explains. “We hope to use this collaboration to showcase how much value lies in harnessing the power of wind and weather, due to the amazing competencies we have in this field within Vestas.”