The German automotive industry has today continued its migration to the FIA Formula E Championship, with the announcement that Porsche will enter the series as a manufacturer from its sixth season onwards, in 2019/20.
Confirmation of Porsche’s entry comes just three days after Mercedes-Benz revealed that it will join the all-electric race series in the same season, and two weeks after Audi and BMW confirmed their plans as new Formula E manufacturers.
Like Mercedes’ transition, the launch of the Porsche Formula E program comes at the expense of competing in another category. In this case Porsche will conclude its LMP1 effort in the FIA World Endurance Championship at the end of 2017, ending a four-season stint in the top class of sports prototype racing which has claimed three consecutive Le Mans 24 Hour outright victories. Porsche has also claimed two WEC Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ championship crowns to date, and currently holds strong leads in the standings of both 2017 championships.
Having previously launched its fully electric Mission E concept car and strategy, the move to Formula E is a natural progression for the manufacturer according to Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board for Research and Development at Porsche AG.
“Entering Formula E and achieving success in this category are the logical outcomes of our Mission E road car programme,” he said.
“The growing freedom for in-house technology developments makes Formula E attractive to us. 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.”
Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag was excited to welcome another major manufacturer as the series continues to expand.
“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,” he added.
“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 inflection 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.”
The sixth season of Formula E – to be held over 2019/20 – will be the second season for the second-generation Formula E race car. The new generation car will have a number of advances, most notably being able to complete a full race distance on a single battery charge. With the need for mid-race car swaps eliminated, the field can grow in size and Porsche will become the twelfth team on the grid.
The departure of Porsche leaves Toyota as the sole LMP1-hybrid entrant in the 2018 FIA World Endurance Championship. While this will give the Japanese manufacturer its best chance to finally take a long-awaited victory in the Le Mans 24 Hour race, the lack of factory competition does change the complexion of the race.
With the factory-backed LMP1-H ranks shrinking, the LMP1-privateer field will grow with new entries constructed by Ginetta and Perrin likely to join the existing ByKolles car.
Images via LAT and Mitch Timms