Formula E CEO Jamie Reigle believes the sport has addressed the issue of manufacturers like Mercedes leaving the sport by introspecting several aspects of it. The electric racing series boss believes that despite some manufacturers leaving, there have also been many new ones who have joined the grid.
Speaking to Sportskeeda at the 2023 Mexican ePrix, Reigle explained how Formula E can be made a more attractive prospect for entrants. He said:
“That work is ongoing, there is no doubt the fact that Audi and BMW and subsequently Mercedes chose to leave, forced a level of introspection for us, to see what is great about Formula E and things we can improve. I mean if I look at the macro trend, we feel very good about where we are, more people are driving electric vehicles, and all that is happening much quicker than people anticipated 2-3 years ago. But on the other hand, those manufacturers left and so you think well, either they are making irrational decisions, they are making silly decisions, or they had some valid concerns. So what we do is try to address those concerns, so we have addressed the sporting format, we have changed our qualifying format last year, trying to make sure to the extent the manufacturers and the teams are investing.”
In an attempt to understand the reasons behind the departure of OEMs such as Audi, BMW, and Mercedes, Reigle revealed that the sport has tried to introspect several aspects such as their sporting format and commercial viability. He explained that they have tweaked the former and introduced a cost cap to make it conducive for teams investing in the sport.
Despite being a racing series with significant road relevance, considering the growing demand for electric vehicles, the departure of big manufacturers did make Formula E consider a few changes. Reigle feels that the Gen 3 cars are a step forward and will usher in a new era into the sport, a fact drivers such as Stoffel Vandoorne and Pascal Wehrlein agreed to and explained to Sportskeeda the same weekend.
Meanwhile, the Formula E CEO believes that the series is still at its nascent stage and will continue to evolve in the future. Explaining the evolution of the electric series, Reigle added:
“They all understand they can’t win all the races, but we need to make sure that the best driver and the best team can win more often than not. To set up the conditions for that we have the Gen 3 car, a big, big leap forward in terms of technology, performance. But we are not done there, we will continue to evolve with the new generation that will come in a couple of years. So the tech piece is important and the financial viability and commercial opportunity is important, so we brought in the cost cap. And then we’ve had candidly 2-3 years where we have been able to host necessarily fans as many as we would like, this is the first year I think that is going to click. So those are the general points, I think the proof is in the pudding as they say.”
Formula E CEO feels new manufacturers entering the sport is a sign that they are still an attractive prospect
While Audi, BMW, and Mercedes have left Formula E, manufacturers such as Maserati and McLaren have joined the series and ABT has also returned as a privateer in collaboration with CUPRA. The Formula E CEO feels that while some manufacturers have valid reasons to leave, those that have returned or rejoined have shown that the series is still a commercially viable and attractive prospect.
Explaining the situation of their entrants to Sportskeeda, Reigle said:
“We’ve had ABT coming back in Formula E with Audi, they’ve come back as a private team partnered with CUPRA, also a new manufacturer coming in under the VW Group. We have Maserati doing the same and we’ve had McLaren purchase the Mercedes team. As much as the folks who left had valid points, we also have to assume the folks who are coming in are making pretty rational decisions, that’s something we are really proud of. We are a young championship and we get held to a very different standard in terms of expectations, but I feel pretty good going into this year.”
With the launch of the Gen3 car and a successful season opener in Mexico, the Formula E series is expected to head into one of its most successful seasons. With the Cape Town and Hyderabad street circuits added to their calendar, the electric racing series will be visiting two of the core markets targeted by its gasoline counterpart F1.