Oh no. Porsche is now rumored to be thinking about a Formula E program. On its own, that would be rad. But combined with the rumors that Porsche is also shutting down its Le Mans prototype program and I start getting bad flashbacks to Audi’s withdrawal from Le Mans’ LMP1 class to go to Formula E. Formula E is fun, but could this be the worst timing ever for a rumor about a marque joining?
Formula E is definitely on Porsche’s radar, pending there being enough items for the marque to develop, according to Motorsport.com. Porsche CEO Oliver Blume, Board Member Michael Steiner and (here comes the part where I cringe hard) LMP1 Team Principal Andreas Seidl all met with Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag at the Monaco ePrix last month.
Okay, breathe. Remember to breathe. Seidl is one of Porsche’s top technical minds. Maybe he’s just there for guidance? Maybe they’re not pulling exactly what Audi did at the end of last year. It’s fine. Everything is fine. This is me, a huge fan of Porsche’s Le Mans prototype, not curling up into a tiny ball and screaming.
Just kidding. There’s a lot of screaming.
Rumors suggest Porsche could join Formula E as soon as Season 5, which runs in 2018-2019, where the cars will have enough battery power to get rid of the mid-race car swaps. Porsche’s current commitment to its LMP1 program in the World Endurance Championship (of which Le Mans is a part) runs through the end of 2018. The timing seems suspicious to me.
The one hold-up for Porsche joining Formula E is the number of items open for development. Formula E started off as a largely spec series in order to keep costs under control. However, it has slowly started to open up more items on the car for development to woo interest from manufacturers who all need to start developing efficient electric vehicles for the road. Seidl told Motorsport.com:
We received an invitation [to Monaco] from Alejandro Agag to have a look and experience Formula E for the first time.
We just had an invitation to an interesting series, though maybe there are not enough technical freedoms yet.
Porsche previously showed some interest in developing the spec battery tender for the series, although they lost that bid to a partnership between McLaren Applied Technologies and EV startup Lucid Motors.
Formula E is neat, and Porsche joining would be a major win for the upstart series. But holy crap, the deja vu is devastating here if you’re a LMP1 fan, especially since Porsche leaving would result in the end of the class itself.