Virgin Racing has begun the process to secure a customer Audi Formula E powertrain for Season Five, e-racing365 can reveal.
The plans, which are believed to be agreed in principle but not yet contractually confirmed, could see Virgin become Audi’s first-ever Formula E customer.
Virgin has worked with DS Performance as its official technical partner since Season Two in 2015/16.
Known as DS Virgin Racing, the team has won four races since the start of the partnership, including a sweep of the weekend in New York with Sam Bird, as well as Bird’s most recent victory in Hong Kong last month.
The DS/Virgin alliance is set to come to an end later this year, as DS will become a manufacturer in its own right and partner with TECHEETAH, with a multi-year deal with the Chinese squad likely to be fully announced in March.
As Virgin did not apply to be a registered manufacturer, they put themselves in a position in which team principal Alex Tai described to e-racing365 as “going wherever it likes for Season Five.”
As stipulated in the championship’s sporting regulations, all Formula E manufacturers are required to supply cars to customers at a cost-capped price of €817,300 per car that includes two full spare parts kits.
Tai would not be drawn on his team’s plans for next season when approached by e-racing365 in Marrakesh earlier this month, stating they will only announce the news when the “time is right” for the team and its stakeholders.
Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler team principal Allan McNish was equally reticent to confirm any customer deal.
“We know we have to supply if someone comes forward,” McNish told e-racing365. “We have a good car and we have a good package, whether that is attractive for customer teams then you would have to ask them.”
Virgin is also believed to have considered a Mahindra powertrain, and this partnership could still occur if a contract with Audi is not rubber-stamped in the coming weeks.
The Mahindra powertrain has been used by Spark Technologies in designing the new Spark SRT-05 car to define the parameters around the architecture for the second-generation design.
A Mahindra powertrain has also been used throughout the test and development phase of the new car.