Porsche sticks with Formula E – but it wants more

If you look closely, you can see the hints that Porsche will always make a positive decision to stay in Formula E after 2026.

The first came in Rome last July when Porsche extended its commitment until the end of Gen3. “One” for Formula E.

Then there was a super-tricky new Porsche Taycan safety car at the Berlin E race earlier this month. Another “ah.”

Of course, by then, Formula E knew Porsche would stay, so it was just a fake lie. However, the relief was somewhat palpable in Berlin when the banned words were filtered through one of racing's greatest brands which would remain around for at least the next six years.

Porsche's importance to the overall health of Formula E is significant. It is the greatest racing brand any series can have, with the exception of perhaps Ferrari.

What it brings to the promoter is tremendous. Losing three German companies (Audi, BMW and Mercedes) in the space of nine months between November 2020 and August 2021 was devastating. Losing the remaining remainder would be disastrous.

But Porsche remains. For this reason, Formula E CEO Jeff Dodds was equally happy and grateful.

“I have reached the process of Porsche announcing an extension until the end of Gen3,” Dodds, who celebrates his first year in charge in two weeks, told The Race.

“Of course, behind the scenes they are [Porsche] We were telling us: “There is a process that we follow internally but our intention is to commit to 4G and beyond, that is our ambition.”

Porsche, Formula E

“Although we always hoped this would be the case, you don't take it for granted until you hear it, but it's very important to us because it's one of the car manufacturing brands that really has racing at its heart.

“When Porsche signs up and says: ‘We are committed to you’, it legitimizes motorsport, because they are part of it, and they are very serious and unbelievable in this field.”

This is one of the reasons why Porsche's decision is so vital to Formula E: credibility. But with that comes another side as well, one that needs a lot of political, sporting and commercial management.

A “difficult” partner.

Porsche, Formula E

When the CEO of a world championship starts a sentence with “I hope that's not too controversial to say…” his ears naturally prick up!

But that's exactly the gambit Dodds opened with when he sat down with The Race in Berlin, at Porsche's local race, 10 days ago.

“I hope this is not controversial, we are dealing with them [manufacturers] All the same but they should be evaluated a little differently based on what they bring to the tournament.

“they [Porsche] They are great partners for us but difficult partners because they push us all the time to do better, be better, and go faster.

The reasons behind Porsche's extension certainly have to do with how Formula E plans to reach more people in specific regions in the short to medium term. Expanding media strategies beyond the current range of publications will also be a factor.

“whether [those factors] “It's the difference between saying yes and saying no, I don't know,” Dodds said.

Porsche, Formula E

“I would say it's a bit more about them, so they look at it and say: What is the financial commitment to this? Is this a credible motorsport that we think is growing? Is this a long-term commitment for Porsche – because they're not doing anything in the short term, they're We're in it for the long term – and 'is this an environment where we're still able to learn something about the technology and 'transfer the technology into our road cars?'

Have all these questions already been answered for Porsche?

That's unlikely – because several wrenches have been thrown into a variety of business over the past year or so, including the loss of dedicated terrestrial coverage via ProSieben TV, which was heralded as a smoother deal for several German entities in the EV World Championship Completely. .

In addition, Porsche's relationship with FIA officials at recent races has also been tense. However, this was more disturbing than condemnation in any broader decision-making process.

Ultimately, Porsche was thinking long term. The boundary conditions that Thomas Laudenbach, Porsche's head of motorsport, often likes to talk about, such as raw data from a blackmail operation, are analysed. After all, he is an engineer at heart.

Thomas Laudenbach, Porsche

“We were always thinking long-term, but I think it's quite normal that before you sign a new move, you talk about the boundary conditions, you talk about what will happen, and there are just things that have to be discussed and clarified,” Laudenbach said. race.

“It wasn't that we weren't sure, it wasn't that we said 'OK.' We weren't in a rush and we just wanted to take the time to go through all the things that were important to us, which way to go technically, or what other boundary conditions .

Sometimes, it feels like you're asking Laudenbach, the engineer, rather than the motorsport director, what he really thinks about the technical future of Formula E. To be fair to him, he doesn't dodge a lot of questions on this topic. It has long been known that Porsche would like to see more freedoms in certain battery technology.

However, some of the earlier programmes, such as the wild, brilliant and commercially reckless LMP1 Hybrid era, are always at the back of the mind of CEO Laudenbach and his peers.

“If you ask me as an engineer, I will always say ‘let’s make this car free and go racing.’ “But since I am also responsible for the financial side, I think Formula E does a very good job of balancing that,” he said.

“However, I must say, the cost is maximum [kicking in in the 2022-23 season] It is a great effort.

“I personally like to think that you have a car that has a certain amount of freedom in the right area, and that's covered by the cost cap, I think that's a good thing.”

Porsche's ambitions in Formula E

Porsche, Formula E

On the sporting and commercial side, Porsche is in a much happier place, which is saying something considering it has yet to win another title other than the glory reflected from its Andretti customer team last season.

However, this will soon be resolved – if not through the drivers' title, then through the teams' title or through the new 2024 Manufacturers' Championship.

This is not false modesty from Porsche. It's even happier because when Formula E needed to change its qualifying system for 2022, it got it changed. When the Gen3 project descended into chaos and safety risks, there was both a practical and existential reaction.

Furthermore, Porsche also likes to compete against the standards available via Formula E.

She knows and loves endurance racing, as in single series like the Porsche Supercup or Carrera Cup. But she also loves learning new things, and in Formula E there has been plenty of that since her entry in late 2019.

Porsche, Formula E

“You can still see the difference in the cars but we don't have the same situation as in other series where the same car wins all the time, so you can still see others winning, you can still always see someone who wasn't that strong,” for example, they still In first place because they did a good job,” Laudenbach said.

“That's what we like, and I think that's a very good combination to maintain its financial health. From our impressions, that will continue, but yes, really long-term thinking, of course there are areas that we would like to see open, but in a very cautious and prudent way.”

Porsche is a global company with big ambitions for its all-electric vehicle range, especially in Asia. This is one of the reasons why it announced its commitment to Gen4 on Thursday as the circuit is located at the Shanghai International Circuit.

Part and parcel of growth is for Porsche to be an intrinsic part of something that is still growing. Return on investment figures are not known in detail, but Porsche must be confident that Formula E is worth the investment – otherwise it will do something else.

“Don't get me wrong, Porsche is a strong brand without a doubt. I would probably call us a starting team in the championship. With that, we would really like to grow.” [Formula E]”, Laudenbach.

“Development is good, but we should never stop pushing because it will not come by itself, and obviously the goal is to grow even more.”

This, here, is a signal and indication from the “hard” manufacturer of Formula E directly to Dodds and the teams he runs.


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