Formula E is committed to ‘protecting’ its small and independent teams amid the manufacturer boom that has drawn factory entries from Jaguar, Audi, BMW, Nissan, Mercedes and Porsche.
The electric single-seater series started three years ago with 10 independent teams, with three – e.dams and Renault, Abt Schaeffler and Audi, Virgin Racing and DS – linking up with manufacturers in some way for the second season.
Jaguar joined the following season, while BMW began a technical partnership with Andretti that will morph into the German marque’s works team next year and Nissan will take over from its automotive partner Renault.
Some FE teams are off-shoots of emerging or specialist car manufacturers, like Mahindra, NIO and Venturi, while Dragon Racing and Techeetah are completely independent outfits.
Series CEO Alejandro Agag told Motorsport.com said the manufacturer influx was huge for the series but insisted it was important to remain in control, with manufacturer development budgets escalating from €10million to €20-30million in two years.
“What we need to do is stick to the rules that we created,” he said. “There is one very important rule that I want to keep, which is to protect the privateer teams.
“We have many manufacturers but they may leave any time. Now we are the next big thing but who knows?
“If you want to stay in the long term, you want to protect the possibility of a privateer racing on a low budget. For that you create a system and rules that allow for that and you don’t change that, no matter what manufacturers push.”
FE caps the cost of manufacturer powertrains for independent teams.
This will remain in place next season, albeit with an increase from €440,000 to €800,000 for a ‘ready to race’ car, given the series is switching from two cars to one.
Manufacturers are asked to declare a price to supply customer teams when they register their interest in producing a powertrain, with the final cap to be decided.
Audi motorsport boss Dieter Gass said that the series currently had a good balance and working relationship between the manufacturers but suggested that would change as more join.
Agag said: “So far we have not felt any negative pressure. On the contrary, they all very positive and aligned. No matter which way they push, we have to stay on our direction with our rules, don’t change them. I will guarantee that we can control it.
“When you start from zero it’s easier. Formula 1 is there for many, many years, people have their stake, they have managed to gain some ground, and they don’t want to release it.
“All of the manufacturers want to win, and they are ready to put resources in, but it’s different.”