until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E

Lola-Yamaha reveals which team will run its Formula E entry

by Sam Smith
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

The Abt SportsLine organisation that currently runs under the Abt Cupra banner in Formula E will be the new Lola-Yamaha alliance’s partner for its FE debut next season.

It means Abt Cupra will move away from the Mahindra powertrain with which it has struggled in the first two seasons of the Gen3 rules era.

 A split from Mahindra was agreed at the end of 2023 after a disappointing first campaign in which Abt - a past FE champion with Audi - finished last in the teams’ standings.

Robin Frijns, Abt Cupra, London Formula E 2023

The team had been in negotiations with several manufacturers for a powertrain supply for seasons 11 (2024/25) and 12 (2025/26) when the current Gen3 cars will be updated with new aero, mechanical and tyre packages.

Lola and Yamaha personnel were spotted in and around the Abt Cupra pit box at the Tokyo Formula E round last month, which is believed to have been just after the deal was agreed and formalised.

Abt CEO, Hans-Jurgen Abt, called the deal “the beginning of an exciting new era in our Formula E history for the Abt brand”.

“We started as a private team in 2014, were then Audi’s factory team, have been a customer team since the comeback and now want to move back up to the front of the grid with this new partnership,” he continued.

Lola owner Till Bechtolsheimer described the partnership with Abt as “thrilling” and added that “operating factory-backed programmes is Abt’s bread and butter and their experience in Formula E will give us a critical leg up.

“We look forward to developing our relationship within and beyond the electric racing series.”

Lola-Yamaha and Abt are planning to shakedown the new powertrain in Lola-Yamaha’s manufacturer test and have a development car in early June before a more formal test later that month.

How the Abt/Lola-Yamaha deal happened

Lola's Mark Preston, Yamaha's Heiji Maruyama and Abt's Thomas Biermaier

Pictured above: Lola's Mark Preston, Yamaha's Heiji Maruyama and Abt's Thomas Biermaier

The Race revealed in April that Abt’s discussions with Porsche had ceased after months of deliberation on whether the manufacturer could supply a second customer team in addition to Andretti, which took Jake Dennis to last year’s title.

Intense discussions with Lola-Yamaha stretched back to the end of last year when it became clear Abt would not continue with Mahindra and was in the market for a new supplier.

Abt Cupra’s Thomas Biermeier knew that a deal with Porsche, which at one time appeared to be possible, would be fraught with operational, commercial and political sensitivities.

Lucas di Grassi Abt Cupra Tokyo Formula E 2024

One of these was the fact that Abt’s main partner Cupra is also part of the VW range of automotive brands, although The Race understands that the primary reason was more the practical and commercial elements of both Porsche providing and servicing a third powertrain in addition to its factory team and Andretti and Abt Cupra’s own budgetary situation.

Cupra is essentially a sponsor of the team and despite initial rumours from some German media that it could become a registered FE manufacturer in the future, it is believed that this was never really a serious proposition.

Lola-Yamaha officially became a registered manufacturer around the time that Abt Cupra was looking around, and meetings between senior figures from both sides started to solidify in February.

Lola-Yamaha had initially looked at the possibility of taking the currently vacant 12th team licence but when that became impractical, it started to speak closely with ERT and the MSG element of the Maserati entry, as well as Abt Cupra.

Lola owner Bechtolsheimer is known to want to work with other manufacturers, continuing a trend set by previous incarnations of Lola with the likes of Nissan, GM, Aston Martin and MG in sportscar racing.

MG Lola Le Mans 24 Hours 2002

The new-look Lola has several ambitions outside of Formula E, including returning the storied brand to the Le Mans 24 Hours in the future.

While Abt doesn’t have a strong heritage at La Sarthe, it has strong links and partnerships with manufacturers within the VW Group, most famously with Audi, with which it partnered for part of the Gen 1 and most of the Gen2 era of Formula E.

Lola is in a good position to be associated with a close affiliate of a manufacturer entity, while Abt Cupra gets a hook up with an ambitious motorsport brand in Lola and a Japanese manufacturer in Yamaha that wants to diversify from two-wheeled motorsport to four.

While the maxim of ‘everyone’s a winner’ in this deal might seem a bit cliched, it has become a convenient and tidy move for all four: Lola, Yamaha, Abt and Cupra.

Lucas di Grassi

With Lucas di Grassi having a sealed contract for next season and likely to be a development driving force for the initial testing phase this summer, the new programme also has an experienced and proven lynchpin.

Nico Mueller’s recent Porsche test has led to speculation that he could be in the frame for a Porsche works seat alongside Pascal Wehrlein next season, so it would be a neat exchange for Antonio Felix da Costa to go the other way and become an Abt Cupra/Lola Yamaha driver from next season onwards.

Should he do so he would join his former team principal at DS Techeetah Mark Preston, and commercial guru Keith Smout, both of whom are central figures in Lola Yamaha’s plans for its Formula E programme.

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