The thrill of winning in Formula E racing.

The Thrill of Winning

The final two Formula E races of the season are in London, during the first weekend of July. After the Andretti IndyCar Team captured a thrilling victory at the 2016 Indianapolis 500, the Andretti Formula E team is looking to finish their season on a high note, by moving up in the driver and team standings.

We are in high gear (pun intended) at Andretti Autosport! The race shop has never been so busy and at the same time so quiet. With all series – IndyCar, Indy Lights, Global Rally Cross and Formula E – up and running, there is a lot of action and buzz in the shop. You feed off the energy. Then at times, it is quiet when everyone leaves for a race weekend. It is quite interesting to see both sides of the spectrum and they can happen in a matter of 24-hours.

Everyone knows there is no bigger race in motorsports than the Indy 500 and this year, even more so as it was the 100th running.  The focus and preparation in the shop was amazing to witness. Details always matter in motorsports, but for the 500, everyone was even more focused. With five entries, we had five chances to win and Michael Andretti told everyone that all our drivers had a great shot of capturing the historical trophy. Everyone in the shop was a believer and I think that is probably one of the most important aspects in anything you do – believing. As an engineer, I may not find the solution immediately, but if I do not believe in myself and the work I am doing, then I will most likely never successfully create.

 Ishin Ueyama is TE's resident engineer on the Andretti Formula E team.

Focused and ready for the next race.

I cannot accurately describe the feeling when Alexander Rossi took the checkered flag. To know that TE products were part of the winning car, as they are part of all Andretti cars, brought me an immense feeling of pride. Just a “wow” moment in my life. I was also so happy for all the mechanics, engineers, hauler drivers, and pit crew members who work so hard every single day. They are a great group and never get the public recognition they deserve. The funny thing (maybe not so funny) was that there was not much time to celebrate because the next weekend was the race in Detroit. As tired as everyone was, the adrenaline in the shop was pumping. I want to congratulate all members of the Andretti Autosport team for such an amazing accomplishment. Thanks for letting me be part of it: It is a memory that I will never forget.

The Future of Racing: Al Jazeera News Network Reports on TE's Role in Formula E

Al Jazeera News Network reports on the world of Formula E racing, during the 2016 race in Long Beach (CA, USA). The story profiles the TE Racing team, including Paul Webb (Global Product Manager), Robin Frijns (Driver, Andretti Formula E Team), and Ishin Ueyama (TE Field Application Engineer and TE Resident Engineer on the Andretti Formula E team).

In my last blog post I spoke about TE’s work in helping to improve radio communication with the IndyCar teams. There are two antennas used for radio communication inside the front section of the car. One type is a flat stick antenna designed for oval tracks that is completely concealed inside the body with low performance. A second is a whip antenna that sticks up towards the top of the front enclosure for better signal exposure. The whip antenna is swapped in for road course use as there are far more radio signal obstacles compared to an oval. With the whip antenna being exposed the team runs the risk of breaking off the antenna. Therefore, TE has focused on providing a prototype solution that is concealed with higher performance.

A look at the radio communication system inside the Formula E race car.
A look at the radio communication system inside the Formula E race car.
This device helps engineers track and communicate wtih the Formula E car and its driver.
This device helps engineers track the car and communicate wtih its driver.
At the Andretti shop in Indianapolis, TE's antenna group installed a prototype antenna installation in the Indy car.
At the Andretti shop in Indianapolis, TE's antenna group installed a prototype antenna installation in the Indy car.

We first started the test process by calibrating the hard-wired connection between the antenna and microwave analyzer. There was an apparent signal disturbance due to the use of multiple adapters and about 50 feet of cabling during the test. Measurements were taken at a 15-foot radius from the antenna around the car in 30-degree increments. The stick antenna designed for the oval track had 51-56 dB of loss in most directions and 47-48 dB loss towards the front of the car. As expected, the whip antenna performed better than the stick antenna in all directions with about 34-37 dB of loss towards the front of the vehicle and 46 dB towards the rear.

In only a few weeks, TE's antennas group constructed a working prototype that helped improve the Indy car's antenna performance
In only a few weeks, TE's antennas group constructed a working prototype that helped improve the car's antenna performance
This device is used to text the hard-wired connection between an antenna and a microwarve analyzer. It also helps detect signal disturbances.
This device is used to text the hard-wired connection between an antenna and a microwarve analyzer. It also helps detect signal disturbances.

Existing antennas on the car are designed to operate within 450-470 MHz of range and this particular car was designed to communicate at 467 MHz. Since we tested the Andretti Autosport antennas at 460 MHz, we had to tune the TE antenna to match this frequency for the results to be comparable. After this tuning process, the TE prototype antenna performed between 38 to 42 dB, which meant that it performed better than stick antenna in all directions and performed almost as well as the whip antenna, while eliminating the possible damage to the exposed antenna. The results we obtained were as expected with the TE antenna outperforming the stick antenna. The next step is for us to determine the best antenna package size with Andretti Autosport to make it fit inside the car without sacrificing performance. This has been a fun project for me as I don’t have a strong knowledge of antennas, but I’ve enjoyed learning from my TE colleagues. I’m glad that we’re close to providing the team with a better solution!

In motorsports you need to work simultaneously. Here we are still in Season 2, but we are already focused on Season 3. It is like you need to have one eye completely focused and locked in to the current season while the other eye is thinking about the future and how you are going to make improvements. It is quite challenging, but I think it is a good lesson for all of us. We need to be in the present, while thinking about the future. If you are only in the present, well then you are most likely going to be left behind. We have already had the TE Connectivity test car on the track in the UK. Maybe I am biased, but that car sure looks good in orange. The reports coming back from my colleagues are very positive – the team feels like we are making great progress and capturing a lot of data that will continue to inform us of new developments and improvements. I am particularly excited because we have four new TE sensors on the car – accelerometer, pressure, position and temperature.

New TE Sensors in the Formula E Car

  • Accelerometer: We installed 50G tri axis accelerometer that will sit under the driver seat to measure vehicle movement.
  • Pressure: The 350 bar sensor would measure the air pressure within the transmission pneumatic shifting mechanism while lower bar sensors would measure transmission oil pressure. For this application, EB1US-S649 series has been selected as it is the EB100 modified for motorsport use.
  • Position: The MLP75s have been requested for measurement of S3 FE car suspension movement. These are important for learning the roughness of road surface and how the stiffness of suspension is affecting the vehicle through a turn.
  • Temperature: The temperature sensor will be measuring transmission oil temperature. It’s currently in the design process and is expected to be installed in July.

At the same time, the final two races are in London the first weekend of July.  We are still very focused to finish the season on a high note and hopefully move up in the driver and team standings. I will update you after London. Thanks for reading and supporting the team. Ishin