Porsche will enter Formula E with a new motorsport strategy and its own factory team in late 2019. Board Member for Research and Development Michael Steiner and LMP1 Director Fritz Enzinger explain why.
Mr. Steiner, why is Porsche entering Formula E?
Michael Steiner: Entering Formula E and the associated reorientation of Porsche motorsport activities is a logical outcome of our Strategy 2025. In addition to GT road sports cars, fully electric sports cars are an integral part of that. Both will be reflected in our motorsport activities in the future.
Mr. Enzinger, Porsche has also decided to withdraw the LMP team from the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at the end of the current racing season. Will Porsche continue to put in a concentrated effort through to the end?
Fritz Enzinger: Yes, we will. After our third consecutive Le Mans victory, we want to defend our two championship titles as well. We’re very well positioned to do so since the one–two finish on the Nürburgring. The last race for our LMP team will be in Sakhir, Bahrain, on November 18.
What factors played a role in the decision to pull out of LMP1?
Enzinger: For one thing, we can look back on four extremely successful years. On the other hand, the conditions in the WEC have changed quite considerably in some areas since 2014. At the time, there was an impressive field of competitors. But having just two manufacturers in the class is too few in the long run. And to successfully market the WEC, we had to rely primarily on our own campaigns in terms of marketing and PR, which called for significant additional investment. Only Le Mans has the status that would justify such investments.
In the future, Porsche Motorsports will focus its WEC efforts on deployments in the GTE classes. Why?
Steiner: With the Porsche 911 RSR, the brand’s icon will be vying for the championship title in the WEC. The direct connection to the product—that is, the road sports car—is very important to us. The diversity of manufacturers and the quality of the GT races around the world have persuaded us to strengthen our engagement in this class. The goal is to be number one. And we have to invest accordingly.
What will happen to the Porsche LMP team?
Steiner: The staffing requirements in Formula E are lower than in the LMP1 class. The extremely qualified personnel on the Porsche LMP team represent a valuable font of knowledge within the company, which we aim to retain in its entirety.
Enzinger: That also applies to the factory drivers involved. In addition to deployments in other racing series and the intensive preparations for Formula E, further uses and development tasks are currently being examined.
“Formula E addresses many of today’s important megatrends.” Fritz Enzinger
Why is the entry into Formula E only planned for the end of 2019?
Steiner: The launch has been set to coincide with the technical development in Formula E and our product strategy. Porsche intends to enter during the market launch of the series version of the Mission E concept study. Formula E is the ultimate competitive environment for us to advance the development of high-performance vehicles in terms of the environmental footprint, economy, and sustainability.
Formula E is a very young championship, regarded by some as a mere trend. How do you see things?
Enzinger: Formula E addresses many of today’s important megatrends. One aspect is the use of specially designed road courses in urban centers as racing venues. So the sport comes to the spectators rather than the other way around. Audi, BMW, and Mercedes have announced their participation, and others are already in the field. To call that a mere trend would be incorrect.
Steiner: Electromobility will play a major role in the future, particularly in urban areas. The digital transformation is the driving force behind the thinking in this field. Young people are changing our mindset. What do our customers expect from our cars and from mobility in general, now and in the future? All of that played into our decision to join Formula E.