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Formula E

The Power 12 – Part 1

Who are the most powerful people in Formula E? We count down from 12 to 7…

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Photo: Formula E

Criteria: Individuals of significant authority in the Formula E paddock centered around matters of decision and influence.

Note: FIA President and co-founder of Formula E Jean Todt has been exempted due to his wide-ranging, significant and multi-faceted role throughout global motorsport.

12. James Barclay

The final position in the Power 12 was a genuine and almost too tight to call selection between Panasonic Jaguar Racing team principal Barclay, McLaren Applied Technologies chief Rodi Basso, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler chief Allan McNish and Formula E’s TV and broadcasting guru Ali Russell.

However, Barclay’s additional responsibilities with the I-PACE eTROPHY series and chairmanship of the Formula E Teams & Manufacturers Association gets him in by virtue of these multiple influences and roles in the paddock.

Photo: Formula E

Barclay is a new breed of team principal. Sharp and corporate he might be, but he is also a genuine motorsport fan and can talk business and racing with equal aplomb.

His linking of the Formula E teams to the FIA as FETAMA chairman and the promoters has started well and his calm assurance stands him in good stead as a steady hand on what will be an increasingly volatile tiller as Formula E continues to grow.

He didn’t make the decision for Jaguar to embark upon its EV inspired motorsport epoch and while he is not the most high profile of the team principals, he has the most significant and current reach through his multiple roles which are becoming of equal importance.

11. Theophile Gouzin

The highly driven and talented technical director of Spark Technologies, Gouzin has had a mercurial rise to be one of Formula E’s most respected engineering leaders.

Starting as a junior engineer for the ASM Formula 3 team in 2003, Gouzin helped the metamorphosis in to ART Grand Prix and in turn bring significant success with drivers such as Adrian Sutil, Sebastien Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Stoffel Vandoorne.

Photo: SRT/Remi Bloom

Joining SRT in August 2012 he soon started spearheading the original generation of Formula E cars and is credited as one of the key technical leads in masterminding the lauded current Gen 2 iteration of cars.

Gouzin takes over control of SRT’s business in Formula E now and is central to the design, R&D and supply of all Formula E teams. His authority has increased significantly since SRT’s founder and president Frederic Vasseur embarked on his F1 adventures, briefly with Renault and now with Alfa Romeo.

The liaison between SRT and the FIA and Formula E Operations in the Gen 2 project was crucial for the momentum of the championship and on the evidence of what has been seen so far it has worked spectacularly well.

For that Gouzin must be considered a potent influence in the championship and one that has earned a great deal of respect along the way.

10. Simon Freer

The former Chairman of Formula E and the most influential and powerful of the Liberty Global generals still has considerable influence and authority despite stepping aside for Agag last December.

Formerly a Chief Commercial Officer and Director of noted repute, Freer was drafted into the position of Chairman as the championship teetered on the abyss in the spring of 2015.

The capital injection by his employers Liberty Global where he has the role of Chief Commercial Officer with the brief of value creation and growth generation.

The precise details of Agag’s move to Chairman and the search to replace him with a new CEO are not totally clear and have rumbled on for almost a year but e-racing365 has been told that the negotiations and decision making were “lively.”

The future CEO is currently being headhunted by one of the world’s leading agencies Spencer Stuart, although recent rumours have started to swirl that Liberty Global’s Chief Programming Officer Bruce Mann is interested in the position.

In a practical sense Freer was probably the most powerful in terms of precise decision making for the promoter and organiser but from the perspective of overall sway via ‘on the ground’ influence he’s now some way behind Agag on direct influence in the championship.

9. Julian Jakobi

Manager extraordinaire and an individual of deep-rooted influence in Formula E, Julian Jakobi’s remarkable career is way too varied and notable to detail adequately here.

But let’s leave it at a man who not only famously managed two of the 20th centuries greatest racing drivers, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna, but also sporting icons such as Bjorn Borg and Nick Faldo.

As ever, Jakobi (pictured below with clients Dario Franchitti and Pedro de la Rosa) was quick to see the opportunity with Formula E, and of all the driver representatives at this new electric dawn it was Jakobi working the beat and securing the deals.

Photo: GP Sports Management

Along with his trusty and experienced team at GP Sports Management, the company he founded in 2010, the current roster includes Lucas di Grassi, Oliver Turvey, Sebastien Buemi, Jean-Eric Vergne (for whom he got a reported mega contract extension last autumn), Andre Lotterer and Jerome d’Ambrosio. A considerable chunk of the field.

And that’s just on the grid. Off it GPSM also looks after the affairs of Allan McNish, Dario Franchitti and Pedro de la Rosa.

Jakobi still has an iron grip on one of the biggest growing driver management markets in world motorsport, so his influence remains potent in piecing together a large part of the Formula E grid.

8. Ulrich Spiesshofer

ABB Chief Executive Spiesshofer affectionately known as ‘U-Spacehopper’ in the paddock, heads up Formula E’s title partnership after a multi-million pound title investment in Formula E was formalized in early 2018.

Spiesshofer has quickly exerted his companies stamp on the series with an array of advertisements, films and activations at events.

The Swiss-German has an impressive track record in high-end business, consultancy and acquisitions and spearheaded the takeover of American electric motor giant, Baldor Electric Company for $4.2 billion in 2011.

ABB’s commitment to Formula E is for another six years as of today and the figures associated with the deal are believed to be somewhere in the region of $100 million from 2018 to 2025.

Photo: Formula E

7. Fritz Enzinger

He’s only been in the paddock a handful of times but this time next year Fritz Enzinger, the boss of all VW Group Motorsport and also currently the temporary team principal for the Porsche Formula E team, will be a much more familiar face.

Enzinger is one of only two team principals in the Power 12 and he features so highly because of the authority that the VW Group has on several levels.

Photo: Porsche

Firstly, EV technology investment is a priority for VW, especially in the wake of the ‘Dieselgate’ debacle. Secondly, the manufacturer is the only one that [as of next season] has two brands competing in Formula E.

While this is a concern for some – see Audi boss Dieter Gass’ opinions on the matter recently – for others it is a prerequisite for VW to be winning with one or the other over the next decade or so.

Enzinger is to some extent an old school racer but his influence and trust spreads right to not only the top, but also to the root and branches of the VW Group tree.

While his predecessor Wolfgang Durheimer made the decisions to go Formula E, it will be Enzinger who now wields the ultimate power in VW’s concentrated push in Formula E.

Tomorrow on e-racing365 – The countdown from sixth to first in the Power 12.

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

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Marco Parroni

    February 23, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    Marco Parroni?;-))
    All the best Sam!
    Marco

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