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Mitch Evans driving in wet conditions at the Formula E London E-Prix

Formula E could introduce wet weather tyres — but not until 2026

The series currently races solely with all-weather tyres provided by Hankook

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Formula E has launched an Invitation to Tender in search of a tyre supplier for the Gen4 car. 

Jake Dennis drives in wet conditions at the Formula E London E-Prix
The last round of the London E-Prix saw drivers tackle heavy rain. (Image credit: Sam Bagnall for Formula E)

Hankook took over as Formula E’s official tyre supplier in 2022, in time for the launch of the Gen3 car. Prior to the Gen3 era, Michelin had operated as the tyre supplier for the series. The partnership between Michelin and Formula E spanned back to the inception of the racing series. 

However, Hankook could be in for a comparatively short stint as tyre provider, as the FIA has launched an Invitation to Tender for prospective suppliers. According to the tender, the supplier contract will commence with the debut of the Gen4 car, spanning from the 2026/27 season to 2031/32. 

What are the current tyre regulations?

The stand-out detail from the tender is the FIA’s apparent intention to introduce wet weather tyres to Formula E. Under the current regulations, there is no distinction between dry and wet weather tyres. Instead, Formula E cars race with “all weather” tyres. Drivers race with two sets of tyres across a single-race weekend; three sets are provided during a double-header. No tyre changes take place during the race, save for in the case of a puncture. 

The aim of racing with all-weather tyres – rather than switching between different compounds, as in series like Formula 1 – is to increase the sustainability of Formula E. However, the lack of wet weather tyres can make racing in wet conditions especially treacherous.

The final race of the 2023 season was illustrative of this. Torrential rain at the last round of the London E-Prix brought out the red flags, with the race commencing an hour and a half after the scheduled start time. Once racing did get underway, drivers struggled for grip. Even as the track dried up, it remained a cautious affair, with little on-track action. It’s hoped that the introduction of wet weather tyres could improve the quality of racing in the rain. 

What does the tender say?

The tender sets out that two different specifications of tyre will have to be provided: “Baseline” and “Typhoon”. It states that the Baseline tyres are grooved, all-weather tyres — such as is currently used in Formula E. The FIA specifies that Baseline tyres “must guarantee sufficient grip to ensure safe racing in light rain”.

Typhoon tyres, on the other hand, will be used specifically for racing in more severe wet conditions. The tender states that the “main performance target” of the Typhoon tyres is to “guarantee safe driving in heavy rain”. The use of Typhoon tyres will be “mandatory” in instances of heavy rainfall. What constitutes “heavy” and “light” rain will be the key matter of distinction in deciding whether drivers will use the Baseline or Typhoon tyres. 

It had been thought that Formula E intended to adopt slick tyres for the Gen4 era. However, the tender makes no reference to slicks. Instead, it seems the only changes being made to the tyres are the introduction of wet weather tyres. 

Featured Image Credit: Xavier Bonilla via Hankook Media

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