Since its inception, the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship has been a breeding ground for innovation. It brings high speed, breathtaking action and intriguing strategy to some of the world’s most iconic locations, all without a drop of petrol being burned. And while the electric motors powering the cars are a feat of engineering in themselves, it’s the tyres that are driving advances for regular road users.
Hankook has been the official technical partner and tyre supplier of Formula E since the recently completed ninth season, developing the iON Race in close cooperation with the racing series. Designed to maintain high performance in all weathers, the technology behind these tyres has also informed the design of Hankook’s iON evo and iON i*cept road tyres, specifically designed for the increased torque and weight of modern EVs.Advertisement - Page continues below
Racing to the future
Development driver Benoît Tréluyer helped Hankook hone the iON Race tyre used in Formula E and, as the three-time winner of Le Mans explains, the peculiarities of the formula made it a unique challenge. “It was tricky to develop these tyres for all conditions, knowing that you can only have one, rather than wets and slicks,” he says. “High performance in every condition is difficult to achieve, but I think we hit that target of good speed while being sustainable at the same time.”
Indeed, Hankook has worked hard to support Formula E’s commitment to creating a sustainable future for all motoring. Roughly 30% of the new tyre for the Gen3 car is made from sustainable materials, and all used tyres are recycled at the end of every race weekend.
Hankook’s pre-season progress also impressed the Frenchman. “I was surprised with the grip level in the beginning, it didn’t take much to warm them up,” he says. If you follow any sort of motorsport, you’ll be used to drivers complaining on the team radio about degradation, which is why the iON Race was designed to minimise rolling resistance. “Degradation was a critical point in the past – there was a lot of lateral movement on the tyres,” recalls Tréluyer, “but the endurance was really impressive from day one and the tyres weren’t moving sideways much at all.”
As the saying goes: if you’re standing still in the world of elite motorsport, you’re moving backwards, so what was Hankook’s approach to refining the iON Race tyre’s performance? “You are never fully happy. If you are, you’re not competitive enough,” says Tréluyer. “Of course, we’d make changes to maximise grip in the wet and so on, but I think the most impressive thing was every time we came back to the reference tyre, we had never strayed too far from the original concept.”
And when it comes to both Hankook and Formula E’s aspiration to make an impact beyond the world of motorsport, Tréluyer is firmly on board. “Tyres for EVs need to be completely different,” he explains. “You drive differently compared to with a petrol engine. There’s always been this kind of trickle-down effect with technology that gets developed within motorsport, and eventually we see it on road cars. It’s just the same with these Hankook tyres.”
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The iON family
The good news for EV owners is that Hankook has been able to harness the performance, durability and versatility of the iON Race in the manufacture of its iON road tyres.
The iON evo and evo SUV summer road tyres are designed to reduce rolling resistance and noise, with a high load bearing capacity. Aerodynamic optimisation also allows greater efficiency and range.
Meanwhile, the iON i*cept and i*cept SUV winter road tyres are made using natural oil in the new tread compound for a better grip in the wet, adapting to the road surface seamlessly with minimal lateral movement. Stable yet flexible tread blocks also help minimise friction loss, helping you to maintain momentum on slippery roads.
Better still, Hankook is planning to launch an iON all-season tyre in Europe by the end of this year. So, whatever the road conditions, the iON range has your EV covered.
Explore the full iON range here