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Ford Accelerating Formula E Talks

Ford looking at possible Formula E entry; Dragon Racing as likely partner…

Photo: Drew Gibson/Ford

Ford has ramped up discussions of entering the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, with initial involvement to potentially begin as early as Season Five later this year.

Multiple industry sources have indicated to e-racing365 that the ‘Blue Oval’ is working towards an eventual factory effort in the all-electric championship, to potentially replace its European-based Ford GT program in the FIA World Endurance Championship once its current contract expires in mid-2019.

A well-placed source said that Ford branding “could be seen” from Season Five onwards with a satellite team, citing increased urgency to enter the series amid only a few remaining available manufacturer slots.

Formula E has a rigid 12-team, 24-car maximum entry, with Mercedes-Benz and Porsche already confirmed as the 11th and 12th teams, respectively, to debut in Season Six.

“[Ford is] realizing they should be involved in Formula E to some extent before viable avenues potentially close for it to become involved without difficulty,” said the source, who requested anonymity.

Additionally, it’s understood Formula E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag made a trip to Detroit earlier this month.

A Ford representative told e-racing365 they “don’t comment on speculation about future plans” when asked for a statement on its possible Formula E program.

Should Ford commit, it would mark the first American manufacturer represented in the series.

It would also coincide with the brand’s significant investment into electric vehicles, having announced last month that it will pour in $11 billion to offer 40 hybrid or full EVs by 2022.

Dragon Favorite for Future Partnership

Dragon Racing and Virgin Racing appear to be the only two realistic candidates for Ford to partner with should it get the go-ahead for the program.

The Jay Penske-owned Dragon team, which has moved some of its design and research capability to California in recent months, would appear to be the favorite, given the American links.

An additional 13th team has already been ruled out by Agag, as Formula E Holdings Ltd.’s contract with teams stipulates a maximum of 12 entrants, which was designed to create value for the franchise system.

“We have no more entries as a commercial rights holder, so a new manufacturer would have to do a deal with one of the current independent teams,” he told e-racing365 last year.

“I know that they [the independent teams] are getting a lot of interest. I expect one or two more [manufacturers] to come in.”

Jay Penske’s father, Roger, has links to Ford via dealerships in California and last year expanded its assets with an acquisition of several Ford automotive retail businesses.

One of these was re-branded as Penske Ford Chula Vista through the SoCal Penske Dealer Group. Team Penske has also run Fords in the NASCAR Cup series since 2014.

While there are no business links at all between Dragon and Team Penske, some senior Ford personnel are known to have spent time with Dragon at the Miami E-Prix back in March 2015.

Sam Smith is e-racing365's Formula E Editor. A 20-year veteran in motorsports media, including press officer roles in both the FIA Sportscar Championship and at Lola Group, Smith is a well-known face in the Formula E paddock, where he served as series editor for Motorsport.com from 2014-17. Contact Sam

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. PetrolPoweredMoFo-Forever

    February 28, 2018 at 11:21 am

    F— FORMULA E! Just sayin’

  2. Jenner

    February 28, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    Nice to see Ford dumping their European GT program to step up into big time racing with the big boys.

    Yeah, right.

    Do they even charge admission to Formula E races or is it free to anyone walking the streets?

    Is there even a following to this type of racing?

    I must be getting old b/c I love my racing with screaming loud and high revving like the P2 and Porsche GT to the thunderous pounding of a V8 Corvette.

    • Johns back home

      February 28, 2018 at 12:28 pm

      Some friends keep telling me how great this series is but after watching several races on TV I guess I am missing something.

    • AudiTT

      February 28, 2018 at 8:22 pm

      Apparently the FE season has already begun. Not that you’d know.

      This series will be the epitomy of boom and bust. Fake hype and a selling point (electronic tech), that will be standard in all the established series in time.

  3. jason

    February 28, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    Despite all of the sportscar drivers and the cool scenery of the street circuits. I can’t get around to enjoying Formula E. At least the article said a potential replacement for the European Ford effort. Not North American. I could see the Ford GT continue in IMSA through 2020 actually since IMSA expanded the GTLM homologation period by 1 year.

    • David Chaste

      February 28, 2018 at 2:54 pm

      In imsa they only have this season and next year and thats it.

      If they had won lemans 4 times in a row then maybe they would try to extend the streak to 5 by adding and additional year. But with Raj Nair out dont bet on anything.

  4. Parker

    February 28, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    Is Club Car going to join Formula E?

  5. Mike S.

    February 28, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    The driver lineups seem good. I see the manufacturers benefit from it more than fans or the sport I think. Its improving technology to sell cars on Monday so business wise it makes total sense but it won’t be the thing to see. I can’t stand there and not hear the dying normally aspirated V6 RSR with that new exhaust or the NA V8 Vette. Add the Aston now as being turbo to that list. It is all muted turbo now and or going E.

  6. Don Hayes

    February 28, 2018 at 8:21 pm

    I love the roar of the current gas engines used in most forms of racing, but electric motors are the future. Racing with electric motors will improve the manufactures ability to work out issues before they hit the streets,and they Will hit the streets. CAFE regulations will kill off the gas drinking V8 engines within the next 15 years. The electic engines are minus the roar we love, but have instant torgue and have proven to be Fast (Tesla). E-Racing will improve durability, charging time and increased mileage before charges which in my mind is a problem with most plug in cars. Time will tell, but the big three are betting their companies on their success. Ford is going to use their beloved Mach1(aka.Mustang) name for a battery SUV. That just sounds wrong! Nothing will ever replace the exhaust note from a V8 Mustang or Camaro. Maybe they will put speakers in the rear of the battery cars playing the rumble of a bad ass V8 on a loop. Like most things. Time will tell..In case your wondering. I do not drive a hybrid and EV vehicle.

    • Truth

      March 1, 2018 at 7:50 am

      The free market is not demanding electric cars. Governments are mandating how private companies power their vehicles.

  7. MikeT66

    March 1, 2018 at 2:19 am

    The automotive industry is currently going through some massive changes – and there’s no doubt that motor racing should reflect that. However…

    …there’s still nothing about Formula E that can challenge open-wheel racing or GT/Sportscar racing for visual and aural thrills – an intrinsic part of the attraction.

    I liked Dickie Meaden’s suggestion in Motor Sport magazine a month or so ago – how about resurrecting a new series like the old Can-Am series. Give the manufacturers a basic rule book (vehicle size, etc) and let them come up with whatever they can. Have some proepr endurance races in there, too, to force the teams to look at efficiencies as well as performance. We may get some genuinely different solutions to performance and efficiency, putting motorsport back at the cutting edge of car development – and have some genuinely oddball and interesting machines to watch battle each other in the process.

  8. WBrowning

    March 1, 2018 at 9:24 am

    I’d rather watch RC cars race than Formula E

  9. J.C.

    March 1, 2018 at 10:52 am

    I’m sorry, but I tried watching Formula E, and the most joy I got out of it was listening the drivers radios when they are heated or angry.

    Especially Jean-Éric Vergne. I don’t understand French, I’m sure there are some curse words in there. But man, that shit is funny.

    Other than that, Fomrula E is… well… It’s… Hmmm…. (lost for words)

  10. Roger

    March 1, 2018 at 2:31 pm

    I have never watched a Formula E race but I did read something on a message board recently that when a car’s battery dies during a race, they don’t just replace the battery, they bring out a whole new car! Is that true?

  11. Chris

    March 4, 2018 at 8:11 am

    The idea that Ford would ditch WEC in favour of FE has attracted a lot of misinformed people / haters to this post unfortunately. I would personally prefer Ford stay in WEC with a hybrid GT (when regulations come along) as well as join FE.

    People saying FE will not be relevant when all motorsport is electric in future are missing the fact that FE is all about embracing it. If F1 switched, all you would ever hear is people complaining about it and yearning for the good old days of V6 turbo hybrids. Just kidding, they’d still be nostalgic for V10s then.

    And if F1 can’t embrace it, how can they expect the public to love the product?

    • Sam Smith

      March 4, 2018 at 10:40 am

      Well put!

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