Bobby Rahal says that a move for his eponymous team into the ABB FIA Formula E Championship is not on the cards despite recent “casual talks” with a team about a potential partnership.
E-racing365 understands that Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing held discussions with the NIO Formula E team about the feasibility of the American open-wheel and sports car squad moving into the all-electric series.
However, Rahal dismissed those prospects, saying that Formula E is now a “closed group.”
Top-level executives from RLL were at last weekend’s New York City E-Prix, including team co-owner Rahal and team president Piers Phillips, who were there officially in support of the team’s efforts in the arrive-and-drive Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY.
However, it’s believed Formula E discussions, to some level, had also taken place.
“[Formula E] won’t happen for us. Not unless somebody waves a wand and I don’t see that happing!” Rahal told e-racing365.
“Unless you have a major automobile manufacturer funding it, and you look at the paddock area, that’s where the money is coming from, whether directly or indirectly. If you something like that, what’s the point?
“Also, it’s a closed group. There’s only X amount of franchises.
“We were interested in the sense of Formula E and have been to a number of the races. But unless you have a manufacturer, what’s the point? You’re not going to compete.”
Rahal said that the proliferation of major manufacturers in Formula E makes it difficult for any independent or privateer effort to compete.
“Formula E now is no different to Formula 1 in the sense of the degree of technology that’s necessary. You’re going to outthink Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW?” he said.
“The time to have gotten in was when Andretti got in and when they were handing out franchises five, six years ago. It’s too late now.
“I think for us, we really need to focus on the activities we have, which is IndyCar, BMW [in IMSA] and [Jaguar I-PACE] eTROPHY if we continue, although that takes very little effort on our part.
“We need to make sure we do what we’ve got on our plate as best as possible.”
NIO is known to be looking at potential investor partners as it readies for entering the 2019-20 season.
John Dagys contributed to this report