French Connections

Rumours are circulating this morning that F1 legend Alain Prost will enter a team into Formula E. The gossip stems from an Autoweek article posted last night from sports writer Christian Sylt. The article seems to stretch the facts to fit the headline, however.

The straightforward facts as we know them are:

  • an announcement revealing the fifth Formula E team will be made in Paris today at a Renault showroom. Renault is helping to develop the Spark-Renault customer car that will be used by all teams in the first season, and showed off the car on its stand at the recent Frankfurt motor show
  • Prost will be hosting the event
  • also in attendance will be fellow Frenchmen Jean Todt, who heads up the Paris-based FIA, and DAMS racing team co-founder Jean-Paul Driot  

That’s a lot of French connections. And of course, Spark itself is a French outfit – really, the ART GP team wearing a different coat.

The Prost team ownership seems to be deduced from his role as host – but the article also acknowledges that Prost is a brand ambassador for Renault, so he might be expected to be wheeled out as a headline-grabber at such an event.

By contrast, the mention of Driot is significant: we picked up an article last week that linked DAMS to a Formula E entry, and then we noticed that DAMS and the Formula E are following each other on Twitter. Coincidence? DAMS would fit the mould developing in Formula E of selecting established racing teams. All four so far confirmed are existing race set-ups, even if one hasn’t put wheel to tarmac in anger for a while (looking at you, China Racing).  

It would be particularly spectacular if, actually, the team announced was one entirely unconnected to the above parties. But given that Sylt’s previous Formula E utterances have been pretty spot on, the Prost assertion may be closer to the truth that it appears.

With all the French influence so far in the sport, a French racing team – whether headed by Prost, by Driot or some combination of the two – seems fitting.

It will, however, further swamp a sport that is marketing itself as the future in a sea of white, male faces: only one team of the five will not fit that template and all drivers so far mentioned in connection with the sport have been male.

Is Formula E simply an excuse for the developed world to moralise about burning fossil fuels to sell more products to developing nations, a form of new-age colonialism flying under electric power rather than the Tricolour, Stars and Stripes or Union Jack?

We hope that the French national motto – particularly the parts about “Liberty” (represented by a woman) and “Equality” – strikes a chord with organisers today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *