Porsche To Exit LMP1 Racing Series, Will Enter Formula E

3 months ago by Motorsport.com 10

Porsche has announced it will quit the FIA World Endurance Championship’s LMP1 division at the end of the current season, as it becomes the latest manufacturer to commit to a Formula E entry.

The Weissach marque follows in the footsteps of fellow German car maker Mercedes in announcing that it will join Formula E in 2019/20, in time for the all-electric series’ sixth season.

“Entering Formula E and achieving success in this category are the logical outcomes of our Mission E road car programme,” said Porsche board member Michael Steiner. “The growing freedom for in-house technology developments makes Formula E attractive to us.

“For us, Formula E is the ultimate competitive environment for driving forward the development of high performance vehicles in areas such as environmental friendliness, efficiency and sustainability.”

Speculation that Porsche was poised to pull the plug on its WEC effort, which is in its fourth year, intensified last month when it emerged key representatives attended May’s Monaco Formula E event.

While team boss Andreas Seidl initially dismissed talk of an imminent departure, he admitted during this month’s Nurburgring WEC event that the team was waiting on a final decision to be made by the board, which came this week.

The ultimate decision to exit the series follows sister brand Audi’s decision to quit LMP1 at the end of the 2016 season, likewise in order to focus on forming a works team in Formula E.

“Building up the Le Mans team from scratch was a huge challenge,” said Porsche vice-president of LMP1 Fritz Enzinger. “Over the years, we have developed an incredibly successful and professional team.

“This will be our basis going forward. I am certain that we will maintain our high level in Formula E. Confidence is high, and we are excited to get started”.

Porsche’s exit leaves WEC’s LMP1 class with Toyota as the sole manufacturer entry for 2018 alongside a number of privateer cars expected to join the grid.

These include new machines from Ginetta, Dallara/BR Engineering and PERRINN, which have all announced plans to join current sole LMP1 privateer squad ByKolles.

However, Motorsport.com understands that Toyota’s senior management will meet next week to discuss its plans, despite having pledged to remain in LMP1 until at least the end of 2019.

This comes at a time when there is little sign of interest from other manufacturers for joining the class in 2020, when new rules, including plug-in hybrids and moveable aerodynamics, will come into force.

Porsche secured its 19th outright Le Mans victory in June in a race of heavy attrition, marking the 919 Hybrid’s third La Sarthe success in a row.

Le Mans-winning trio Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber currently hold a 30-point advantage at the head of the WEC standings after securing victory at the Nurburgring.

Porsche’s works GTE programme, which was reborn this season with the arrival of a new mid-engined 911 RSR, remains unaffected by the decision to quit LMP1.


 

Porsche issued this press release on its entry into Formula E:

Porsche set to compete in Formula E from Season 6

Porsche has today revealed plans for a factory-backed works team to compete in the all-electric FIA Formula E Championship starting in season six. As part of a new strategy and realignment of Porsche’s existing motorsport programme, the German manufacturer has committed to join Formula E from the 2019/20 season.

Alejandro Agag, Founder & CEO of Formula E, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Porsche to the FIA Formula E Championship. If somebody told me when we started this project five years ago, that we’d be announcing a partnership with a brand like Porsche, I wouldn’t have believed it. To have a name like Porsche in Formula E, with all it represents in terms of racing and heritage – and in terms of sport cars – is an inflexion point in our quest to change the public perception about electric cars. The electric revolution continues, and Formula E remains the championship for that revolution.”

FIA President Jean Todt, added: “Porsche is a brand which has a fantastic history in motorsport, and its intention to join the FIA Formula E Championship alongside so many of the world’s biggest car manufacturers is very positive. It’s clear that the hard work done to create a relevant laboratory for developing electric vehicle technologies has been successful, and I look forward to seeing Formula E continue to be a place of great sporting competition as well as innovation. I’m very happy that Porsche is coming to Formula E, but I regret their decision to leave the World Endurance Championship.”

“Entering Formula E and achieving success in this category are the logical outcomes of our Mission E road car programme. The growing freedom for in-house technology developments makes Formula E attractive to us,” added Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board for Research and Development at Porsche AG. “Porsche is working with alternative, innovative drive concepts. For us, Formula E is the ultimate competitive environment for driving forward the development of high-performance vehicles in areas such as environmental friendliness, efficiency and sustainability.” 

Porsche joins an impressive list of manufacturers already involved in the series – including prestigious names like Mercedes-Benz, who also recently announced its intentions to enter the championship in the same season. With the introduction of both Porsche and Mercedes, season six would see the number of teams increase to 12. 

From season five, Formula E will no longer require two cars per driver and the potential of a mid-race car change. Each team will compete with two cars from the 2018/19 season onwards, instead of the current four, as a clear testament of the advancement in battery technology. New-look futuristic cars will also debut in season five and will incorporate new electric technology to allow for a single car to complete a full race distance.

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10 responses to "Porsche To Exit LMP1 Racing Series, Will Enter Formula E"

  1. John Ray says:

    This is huge. This is like the Patriots quitting the NFL. It also means that Porsche’s overall LeMans winning streak is at an end. I expect that Toyota will follow them. LMP1 as a class may be done leaving only the LMP2 spec racers.

    For those of you who do not follow the WEC, there was a new rule put in place that the LMP1 cars must travel the first kilometer when leaving the pits under electric power only and at full race pace (they are all hybrids). This was to begin in 2020. Would like to have seen how they would have tackled this.

    1. Vexar says:

      Thanks for the color on the back story. That’s interesting. My take is that both Porsche and Mercedes are all “hey, this is goofy engineering!” A hybrid race makes sense. An all-electric race makes sense. A PHEV race does not.

      1. John Ray says:

        Actually, the way they implement the hybrid technology is quite interesting. The batteries are quite small – on the order of <2 kWh I think. They use the heavy braking going into a turn to charge the battery and then use the electric motor as a sort of boost when coming out. I remember years ago Porsche expemented with a flywheel to do the same thing. The braking would spin the heavy flywheel up and the driver could the utilize the stored kinetic energy when needed.

        Clearly the 2020 rule would have forced them to think differently.

        1. unlucky says:

          The batteries are 8MJ. That’s 2.2kWh.

          Porsche only used the flywheel in the Porsche 911 GT3R Hybrid. Their LMP1 (Le Mans Prototypes) always used batteries.

          At one time there were 3 makes of LMP1 cars

          Porsche used batteries.
          Audi used flywheels.
          Toyota used supercapacitors.

          Everyone switched to Li-Ion batteries and then Audi dropped out a year later.

    2. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      I don’t think there’d be lots of WEC fans who’ll be cheering Porsche’s departure.

      But for those of us more interested in Formula E I think it’s great to see the European manufacturers all scrambling over to Formula E.

    3. unlucky says:

      The rule was apparently at the request of the entrants though. It wouldn’t force Porsche out. They’d just tell the ACO no and the ACO would drop the rule.

      1. John Ray says:

        Yes, I don’t want to insinuate that the rule has anything to do with their departure. I suspect money and VW’s ongoing problems might play a part. I just thought this crowd might find it interesting.

  2. unlucky says:

    Well, this has been going around the paddock for months now and is finally confirmed.

    I strongly suspect we will see the ACO turn to IMSA’s DPi formula now. With Cadillac, Nissan, Mazda and Acura over there and with top racing teams like Wayne Taylor Racing (Wayne being synonymous with the Rolex 24h) and Joest Racing (who won for Audi all those times at Le Mans) it appears to be where the action is.

    With only Toyota now we don’t see Toyota spending any money in LMP1 now either. At most we’ll see them hang in with their existing car to try to finally pick up that overall Le Mans win next year.

    1. Nada says:

      Would be good to see it continue hopefuly they will merge the specs for the US and EU series…

      Awsome news for Formula E though…
      The prototyp cars are my favorite looking ones but I like the shorter format open wheel car races…

  3. John Ray says:

    Yes, the Daytona Prototypes are a logical step. I don’t think the FIA wants to see the WEC become a spec racing series.

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