File image(FIA Formula E via Getty Images)
File image(FIA Formula E via Getty Images)

Formula E says future is stable even after Audi, BMW pull out

  • While they were busy putting in the framework to get the seventh edition up and going, they received a setback when two of the biggest manufacturers—Audi and BMW—announced their decision to pull out from the sport at the end of this season.
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 07:33 PM IST

After finishing last season with six races in nine days in Berlin, the Formula E think-tank sat down to chart out the path for the new season.

With the Covid-19 still causing chaos all around the world, they needed to find a better solution than just cramming races into one city.

While they were busy putting in the framework to get the seventh edition up and going, they received a setback when two of the biggest manufacturers—Audi and BMW—announced their decision to pull out from the sport at the end of this season.

The biggies questioned the relevance of the championship for manufacturers. BMW stated that they have “essentially exhausted any opportunities for technology transfer” between its Formula E project and production cars.

Formula E CEO Jamie Reigle feels that both have jumped the gun.

“I can’t say we are happy that they left but we are fundamentally in a good space and will come through this period. There are many manufacturers who are in different phases of shifting to electric. There was lot of ambiguity when the series started in 2014 whether that shift would happen, and we had lot of vested interest pushing against that. Now it’s very clearly happening. The spoils will go to who are further along that curve,” said Reigle, who has previously worked with Manchester United and Los Angeles Rams in the NFL before moving to Formula E one and half years ago.

Reigle feels that the sport continuously works on making it “appealing” to the manufactures and it has all the ingredients to boost “electric mobility”.

FIA giving Formula E a world championship status from this season—first single-seater racing series outside of Formula One to receive so—shows its growing stature.

Dilbagh Gill, CEO and Team Principal of Mahindra Racing, feels it has helped them immensely. “For us this championship gives us tremendous return on investment. We started this on day one and committed for long term future. End of the day, this championship is very relevant to what Mahindra is doing and helping our race to road car programme,” says Dilbagh, who has guided Mahindra Racing in Formula E since its inaugural season in 2014-15.

While the pullout of Audi and BMW will a setback there are other big manufactures like Porsche, Mercedes, Jaguar and Nissan who are still onboard as they move towards providing electric mobility.

Experts feel that the pulling out of those two won’t be detrimental for the series as manufacturers keep moving in and out of motorsports. Recently, Honda announced their decision to pull out of Formula One at the end of 2021 season.

What Formula E will have work on, is keeping the series attractive for the teams to compete. They got a big boost when Porsche Motorsport's vice-president Fritz Enzinger confirmed that they will remain in Formula E but he also backed Mercedes' motorsport boss Toto Wolff, who called for changes in the sport, including a reduction in cost of competing in the series.

Reigle says they have been working on bringing in financial regulations. “I have got a number of calls from manufacturers saying: ‘if you can bring in a cost cap and if you are going to demonstrate that you are going to increase the footprint of the championships and make it bigger, we will be interested’.”

Formula E is banking on new regulations that will kick-in during 2022 season which will see the car weight reduced by around 100kg, making for faster racing and will also help extend the season from current 14-race to 18-20 races.

They have taken the first step of making it more attractive with the Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia at the weekend which will be a double header and the first Formula E races to be held under lights.

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