Formula E

Interview with Hankook Motorsport Director Sandbichler: "Drivers can push the limit even more with Gen3 Evo tyre"

Timo Pape

Timo Pape

Hankook has long since arrived in Formula E as a tyre supplier. With the revised Gen3 Evo car, which will be on the grid from next season, the Korean manufacturer is also introducing a softer rubber compound that promises a leap in performance. In an exclusive interview with e-Formula.news, Hankook's Motorsport Director for Europe, Manfred Sandbichler, reveals what can be expected from the new tyre. He also talks openly about the painful farewell to Formula E in just over two years' time.

Manfred, you're giving your tyres an upgrade. What can we expect from the new Gen3 Evo tyre?

We know from numerous tests that the tyre has a significantly higher performance level. We clearly expect faster lap times. At the same time, we are limited by the vehicle and the tracks. In Sao Paulo alone, we have nine different tarmac surfaces. It is therefore difficult to quantify this in per cent or lap times. We expect - conservatively estimated - an improvement of one to one and a half seconds per lap.

It sounds as if the lap time doesn't play such a big role for you.

What's more important for us is what the fan experiences. There will be significantly more action because the tyre works in a completely different performance window. The drivers will be able to push the tyre to the limit even more and we will see even more overtaking manoeuvres. We also hope to see a bigger difference in attack mode than before.

Despite the jump in performance, will there still be a two-part tread with different rubber compounds for dry and wet conditions?

Yes, that will remain. We are still striving to have a tyre that also works in the rain. But in such a way that we still have a performance advantage in the dry. It's a balancing act. Ultimately, you have to find a good compromise. However, the dual-compound concept itself does not affect performance at all.

Some drivers and teams would like the tyre to reach the optimum working window more quickly. Will the warm-up behaviour change?

Our aim was definitely to get the tyre up to temperature more quickly in qualifying. But there are limits. With a slick tyre, you would have completely different options, but we are of course adhering to the Formula E specifications, so there is only so much we can change in this direction.

What about sustainability?

This is still right at the top of the agenda. The new tyre consists of 35 per cent sustainable materials. After the races, all the tyres are always collected, taken to a special place and stored there. If there are enough tyres, they go into the recycling cycle. There, the materials are reprocessed - as far as technically possible - and then fed back into the production process for new Formula E tyres. It just takes a little while until we have enough tyres because not so many are used in Formula E. Nothing else is added to the cycle in order to be able to reproduce the high quality.

We often hear that the teams would like to have realistic tyre modelling for their simulators. Is there no such thing?

No, we don't do that at all. Theoretically, of course, it is possible - we have such programmes to simulate this. But we keep this data behind closed doors because we have very different manufacturers and private teams in Formula E. One may be in the fortunate position of having a simulator, while another may not. We don't want to give anyone an advantage.

In the meantime, the first four manufacturers have signed up for the Gen4 era. So why are you no longer involved?

We took part in the FIA's tender as normal, but the outcome was not in our favour. We really regret that. We had actually planned to be in Formula E for longer. We normally always conclude long-term agreements and have no interest in short-term activities. Unfortunately, it has now turned out that we can only be involved for one period with our 4-year contract.

How has that news affected the mood in the team? It's not even half-time in the Hankook Formula E era - you still have more than two seasons to go.

When we found out about it, the mood was naturally at rock bottom at first, because we had put a lot of thought into it before we took part in the tender. After the decision, we briefly fell into a small hole, but quickly got over it because we said to ourselves: We will stick with it until the last moment with full commitment, passion and dedication and then - unfortunately - say goodbye upright.

What else has changed since we last spoke a good year ago - are you satisfied with Formula E?

A lot has changed. We have already established a much greater presence and contacts in our second season. In my opinion, Formula E itself has also changed in terms of its public image. We are all working together and have the same goal in mind. But my interim conclusion is the same as last year: for us, Formula E is the top series that we support. We are fully behind it and what it stands for. To anyone who criticises electric racing, I say: take a look at the racing here - you won't find more action anywhere else.

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