until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E

The explosive rifts a renewed Formula E alliance has had to heal

by Sam Smith
6 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Porsche and Andretti have healed several potential rifts after a fraught first season together in 2023, and have now renewed their collaboration until the end of Formula E's Gen3 era in 2026.

The two global motorsport giants first announced their partnership at Berlin Tempelhof in May 2022 to great fanfare, but the reality of cohabiting as manufacturer supplier and independent customer team didn’t come easy. 

Two years on, and several flashpoints later, the pieces have all fallen into a reasonable order again.

The ill-feeling brewed internally at first and then via some sizeable public waves in several races that were spread across multiple incidents - mainly, but not exclusively, between Jake Dennis and Pascal Wehrlein at the Jakarta, Rome and London E-Prixs last year.

Attempted choreography and pre-event briefings of certain scenarios fell apart on occasion in those races and some recriminations became all too clear, particularly at the season finale in London. 

That was when Michael Andretti himself peaked with anger when he believed that Wehrlein and Porsche were jeopardising Dennis’s accrual of the necessary points to take the drivers crown. There was even a frank exchange of words from Andretti to Porsche AG super advisory board member Michael Steiner, such was the competitive heat of the situation.

What complicated the scenarios was that while Wehrlein was no longer a realistic protagonist for his own title charge, at that stage Andretti and Porsche were neck-and-neck in the teams' championship race. 

The healing process

Once the white-hot embers of last season had cooled, meetings and discussions took place between the senior members of the Andretti and Porsche teams.

There were several summits that took place and according to Roger Griffiths, the Andretti team principal, the result was a fresher understanding of each party.

“We went back to the roots of the partnership, which was collaboration,” Andretti team principal Roger Griffiths told The Race.

“We openly talked through the whole of season nine, race-by-race, blow-by-blow if you like. We went through the areas where we'd had some disagreement and we just got it all out in the open.”

These included high-level meetings with Michael Andretti,  JF Thormann and Griffiths himself with key Porsche management that included overall motorsport boss Thomas Laudenbach, Formula E programme director Florian Modlinger and commercial guru Carlo Wiggers.

“We all talked it through and we saw it from each other's points of view and just laid it out all in the open and said, 'OK, we'll let bygones be bygones',” said Griffiths.

“We have a new opportunity now. Yes, we didn't accomplish everything we wanted to achieve from a partnership perspective, so we have a second chance now and everybody is super motivated to make it happen.”

Did Andretti's eyes wander?

Like all other customer teams, Andretti certainly did look around last summer and into the early autumn for interesting possibilities of collaborations for its Formula E future.

The Race understands that it briefly spoke to the Lola-Yamaha alliance but that was probably in addition to several other discussions with rival manufacturers too.

This is an entirely natural strategy in scoping out possible alternatives but it was never seriously pursued, such is the known quantity of the Porsche technical package for the final half of the Gen3 period.

The reality was that when Porsche confirmed its Formula E programme would continue until the end of the 2025-26 season in Rome last July, it was reasonably inevitable that this partnership would be extended too.

“When we signed the original agreement we weren't able to sign a four-year agreement, because Porsche hadn't committed to Formula E, they'd only committed through to the end of season 10,” said Griffiths. 

“In normal circumstances we would have signed a four-year agreement from the outset but it wasn't possible for us to do that. 

“On the assumption everything was going well, it was natural to extend, and after the success that we had last season it was just a natural thing to continue onwards with the partnership.”

The immediate future (and beyond)

Porsche has already started its initial phase of data acquisition testing of the Gen3 Evo car after it completed a short test between the Misano and Monaco races in mid-April.

“We wanted to get this initial data quickly to have in mind what we need to develop to have a bit of knowledge of the tyre, the bodywork, what has changed and what you need to adapt,” Modlinger told The Race.

This will include Porsche’s own manufacturer perimeter of parts that will be utilised in the private development testing.

“We need to be sensible with the capacities and resources, therefore we have some little testing programme during the race season, and then a focus after the [2024] races,” added Modlinger.

Andretti will be present at some of those tests and Griffiths alluded to the same collaboration of information learned from these days, saying that “the intention is to share as we've been sharing over the past two seasons”.

“Even when we had our differences of opinion, it didn't stop information flowing backwards and forwards,” he said.

“We've really expanded upon that now this season and I think we've seen that the Jaguar powertrain is going to be the one to beat and we've had to acknowledge that and continue to work together and potentially more closely together, if we truly wanted to mount a challenge against them.

“This is what we focused on. We've had some good ideas as Andretti and they've had good ideas as Porsche, so we've been able to swap them back and forth.” 

Looking ahead to Gen4 everything hinges on one of Formula E’s biggest judgement days coming up: will Porsche stay in Formula E?

Now Andretti has officially confirmed its continuation with Porsche, attention will immediately turn to what customer teams will do for the Gen4 ruleset that kicks in at the end of 2026.

Porsche is expected to announce its decision on either a long-term commitment [beyond Gen3] to Formula E or a withdrawal in the next month, although in reality the decision has already been made internally.

Andretti will likely have to get at least a provisional self-steer on Porsche's Gen4 strategy by the end of this calendar year before the process begin on confirmations of a deal in the first half of 2025.

“We know that decisions regarding powertrain relationships will have to be made a little bit earlier than previously, just because of the way the race calendars are going to be and when we have to commit to which powertrain we go with,” added Griffiths.

“I think it's too early to say right now. Only two entities have announced that they're competing in Formula E to date. Hopefully more will come in the next few weeks and then once we know where that is, then we can start to decide what direction we want to go in.

“It’s just a little early for us to be thinking about that just yet.”

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