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Mitch Evans and Jean-Eric Vergne on track at the Hyderabad E-Prix.

Extreme heat in Hyderabad created a challenge for Formula E tyres

Difficult track conditions at the Hyderabad E-Prix put the new Hankook tyres to the test

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The inaugural Hyderabad E-Prix last weekend provided fans with a thrilling race at a brand-new track. It also brought with it extreme heat.

Hankook tyre fitted to a Porsche Formula E car.
Hankook replaced Michelin for the 2022/23 season. (Image credit: Hankook)

With track temperatures reaching up to 50 degrees at times, the Hyderabad E-Prix was a challenge for the new Hankook tyres. But equally, it was an opportunity for the tyres to demonstrate exactly what sort of conditions they could withstand. 

Extreme heat in the middle of India’s dry season made track conditions precarious. Combined with the fact that the road that makes up the circuit is frequently used by heavy traffic, the track became a “very slippery surface”, Thomas Baltes, Hankook Formula E Race Engineer, told Formula E.  

But the Hankook tyres coped well.“Particularly at the end of the long, high-speed straights, the Hankook iON Race [tyres] really had to work hard to provide the drivers with the necessary grip,” says Baltes. He added: 

“The tyre also overcame the high track temperatures of over 50 degrees without any problems.”

Formula E’s partnership with Hankook is new for the 2022/23 season. The South Korean tyre manufacturer replaced Michelin, who had been the series’ tyre supplier since Formula E’s inception. 

A race in such difficult conditions provided drivers with an opportunity to learn more about Hankook’s tyres, says Baltes. He said: “The drivers are learning a lot about the new Formula E tyre in every race: after heavy rain at the test in Valencia and cool temperatures in the Saudi Arabian desert, the teams this time gained valuable experience of running the Hankook iON Race in extreme heat.”

Hankook are happy so far

We’re now five rounds into the 2022/23 season, and track conditions at the four different circuits have demanded vastly different requirements from the Hankook tyres. Manfred Sandbichler, the Director of Hankook Motorsports, says that the company can be “satisfied” with the performance of the tyres so far. 

“We feel our tyre mastered the track conditions [at Hyderabad], which were really difficult,” said Sandbichler. The tyres also “supported the drivers, for whom every fraction of a second was vital”. Sandbichler added:

“After four races with a diverse range of challenges for the Hankook iON Race, I can draw a very positive conclusion.”

The new Hankook tyres haven’t been popular with everyone, though. Two-time Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne previously compared the tyres to “concrete”. He added that they make it “impossible to overtake”. 

Despite this, Vergne took home his first win of the season at the Hyderabad E-Prix after a terrific drive. Perhaps Vergne has become more familiar with the demands of the Hankook tyre? 

It seems that the teams and drivers are adapting to the new tyres well — which is something that Hankook is pretty pleased about.

“It’s also good to see how quickly the teams are learning to work with the new Formula E tyre,” said Sandbichler. “Through very close communication with the drivers and engineers, we know how much faith they have in our product.”

He added: “The next race in South Africa awaits at the latest new Formula E circuit, which we are very much looking forward to already.”

The new circuit in Cape Town will be one of the fastest on the race calendar. Formula E makes its debut there next Saturday.

Featured Image Credit: Formula E 

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