Ferrari considering Formula E entry

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Ferrari is keeping an eye on Formula E’s development, according to company CEO Sergio Marchionne. And an entry may not be out of the question.

Motorsport has been a cornerstone of the Italian supercar marque’s brand and operations throughout its history, having taken part in every Formula 1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950. It also enjoys involvement in GT racing all over the world and senior figures are now considering a possible move into Formula E.

A year ago, that would have been a prepestorous statement, but Formula E has akready attractied major manufacturers including Renault, Jaguar, BMW and Audi. F1 rival Mercedes has secured an option to enter the sport from season five and McLaren will be supplying the spec race battery to be used by all teams from season five. Should Formula E’s development go as planned, Ferrari would not be in bad company.

During a Ferrari teleconference reviewing its Q3 performance on the New York Stock Exchange, Marchionne was asked whether entering Formula E had been discussed.

“The answer is yes,” Marchionne said, as quoted by Autosport, before adding that a number of conditions would have to be met for the prancing horse to go electric.

“I have agonised over with this with my colleagues here in Ferrari for quite a while. I’m going to give you two answers to the problem. If Formula E requires people to change cars during a race because we exhaust the power available within a given car, that is not something that Ferrari would naturally gravitate to. Secondly, the standardisation associated with the electric car is something which runs against the grain of Ferrari because otherwise it will prevent [Ferrari] from playing whatever it is that it does technically on a vehicle. But I think it is possible that [after] some level of maturity that Ferrari would develop [a] unique set of skills that will make that car uniquely Ferrari, in an environment like that, but we are not there today. If it were to happen it would happen a few years from now. But it’s possible.”

Formula E’s grid is currently full at 10 teams, with Mercedes holding an option for an P11 entry for season five, starting in 2018. Series boss Alejandro Agag is keen to add another entry at that point, too, which is when the sport will drop its two-cars-per-driver approach, shrinking the garage space required. 

Is Ferrari really considering the sport seriously or is it a way simply to deflect from the team’s struggles in F1? Those in red shirts have been behind the pace for the past few years and have been plagued by strategy and operational errors, causing tensions to flare within the team and frustration to grow as its title drought edges ever closer to a decade.

However, with Audi’s shock withdrawal from WEC and VW’s from WRC, it’s not too farfetched to believe that sports cars companies will need to follow suit into the electric championship, within the next few years. Too, Renault’s example shows that the global platform of Formula E could be used to offset a lacklustre works team performance in F1; and the offer of a super-licence to the FE champion could make the sport a breeding ground for a new generation of racing drivers. 

There is a tenuous Ferrari connection on the grid already, of course; Mahindra Racing is related to Pininfarina though mutual parent group Mahindra; the Italian styling house has been synonymous with Ferrari styling for decades. A Mahindra-Pininfarina car powered by Ferrari would certainly generate a headline or two. 

Luke Smith

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