Andretti becomes latest team to enter Formula E series
Innovation
Formula E
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 Jul 2013   |  12:27 pm GMT  |  48 comments

Andretti Autosports, run by former Indycar and F1 racer Michael Andretti, has become the third team to formally enter the new FIA Formula E series, due to start in September 2014.

It joins UK-based Drayson Racing, whose principal, Lord Drayson recently set a new world electric land speed record, together with China Racing, led by Steven Lu.

The Andretti name will be a huge boost to the series in the USA, which is set to host two of the ten city-centre rounds in Los Angeles and Miami.

Andretti’s team has a strong reputation in US motorsports, having won the Indycar series title four times and the Indianapolis 500 twice. The Andretti racing dynasty, started by Michael’s father Mario, is like motorsport royalty in the USA.

This will be the team’s first foray into a global FIA racing series.

Michael Andretti raced in F1 with McLaren in 1993, but the adventure was cut short after he scored a podium in Monza; he was replaced as Ayrton Senna’s team mate by Mika Hakkinen, who went on to win two world championships for McLaren.

Andretti (R) with Formula E boss Agag


Formula E promoter Alejandro Agag said, “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Andretti Autosport to the series; a team with an incredible racing pedigree and track record who I have no doubt is going to make a contribution to the FIA Formula E Championship.

“It’s fantastic too for such a highly-established outfit to show its commitment to sustainable motoring and with two US races on the inaugural calendar – Los Angeles and Miami – I’m sure American motorsport fans will have a lot to cheer come race day.

“Today’s announcement now means we have teams from three different continents and we’re looking forward to announcing many more over the coming months.”


To get the series started in 2014, the teams will use the Spark-Renault SRT_01E Formula E car, built by the French-based Spark Racing Technology, together with a consortium which includes McLaren, Williams, Renault and Dallara.

For more on the Formula E series, check out their new website
www.fiaformulae.com

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48 Comments
  1. Adam says:

    American team in a global motor sport…that will not go well.

    1. Kevin says:

      why not?

    2. DB4Tim says:

      It will go VERY well and needs to happen, don’t underestimate the resolve to make this work.

      1. KRB says:

        Hopefully it does. I’d say the biggest cause of friction in the past between American entrants in any “global” series (usually headquartered in France), in any sport, is that the global officials are seen as either hyper-sticklers, or instead making-stuff-up-on-the-fly, usually seen as at the cost of the American entrants.

        Let me also say I’m glad the Andretti family don’t go by the tradition of naming sons after their grandfathers. While they all wouldn’t be named Mario, it would be Luigi-Mario-Luigi-Mario … not ideal with the ascension of the Mario Bros. franchise.

        Indeed, it was that other U.S. motorsport royal family, the Unsers, with all the same names, at least the ‘Al’ branch of the family (Al Unser Sr, Al Unser Jr, Al Unser III).

        I just remember Michael cleaning up in 1991, and he basically won every time he came to Toronto (8 wins there).

  2. Andy says:

    That’s a real boost for the series!

    I really enjoyed your feature on Formula E on the recent podcast, and while I think the heart is definitely in the right place and it does sound exciting, they really need to do something about that engine noise!

    Having said that, I think I’ll probably try and watch it if it is broadcast.

    1. Neil Jenney says:

      Interesting, it appears the engine noise may be like Marmite. I was driving with the volume high when I heard the clip in the podcast and it gave me major goosebumps. Certainly raised my interest in the series.

      1. Andy says:

        It might be because I’m hard of hearing (not through watching too many F1 cars though!) and I’m more sensitive to high frequencies that the sound is very piercing for me.

        What would be good is if they can put on some public or TV showcases so that we can hear the sound in real life.

        The Andretti link is very good for the sport’s exposure though. That and James’ feature definitely piqued my interest.

  3. Anil Parmar says:

    Hi James. Do you think this series has potential? I have to admit that im getting pretty excited about it, I just hope it doesn’t turn into a flop!!

    1. James Allen says:

      I think it has a lot going for it – exciting locations, innovative concept.

      The key will be to find the audience quickly and then give them what they want using the best possible means of content delivery

      Agag knows all that.

      1. Ian H says:

        has any TV/commercial rights been agreed yet

      2. iceman says:

        The locations are definitely a plus. The “green” concept has given them access to a lot of locations where conventional motorsport would face much greater political obstacles, even though the road closures and traffic disruption will be no different.

      3. Ross says:

        It looks like FEH has been pretty shrewd in identifying race locations. No chance of empty stands when your track is the heart of a city will millions of residents. I wrote a short piece on that: http://currente.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/how-to-acquire-an-instant-audience/

        And FEH plans to stream the series live over the wonders of the interweb, opening up viewing to billions. Clever chap, this Agag.

      4. Elliot says:

        James how much do you think the money situation is making Formula E look good? This seems to be saying it is a big factor
        http://www.autoweek.com/article/20130713/indycar/130719925

      5. matthew cheshire says:

        So there’s going to be a website for that too? Best avoid JAFE – its not a good acronym by any stretch!

  4. Andrew Carter says:

    I wonder if Marco Andretti or Ryan Hunter-Raye will end up driving the car.

    Definitely a big name, Drayson and any other team joining will have a job to beat them.

    1. James says:

      Yes, Andretti have confirmed that their IndyCar drivers, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and James Hinchcliffe will have “guest” rides and races in their Formula E car, smart move!

    2. Ross says:

      Given that the series is providing cars to teams for the first season, and that the promoter is pushing for a budget cap, all teams ought to have as good a chance as any at topping the grid.

    3. KGBVD says:

      Michael hinted strongly that he’ll field his Indy guys.
      I hope Hinch and Marco :)

  5. K says:

    And here I was thinking the post-2009 F1 cars were the ugliest cars in all of motorsport.

    1. Neil Jenney says:

      Agreed. Looks too much like the current Indycars, which are the ugliest cars in all of motorsport.

    2. Andrew Carter says:

      I think it looks great, though the concept Bluebird showed a few weeks ago looked better.

    3. Paul Kirk says:

      Sorry “K”,(and Jenny), I consider these cars, and the currant Indy cars to be quite attractive, certainly more so than the recent F1 cars!
      PK.

      1. KGBVD says:

        Agreed.

        Would we rather stepped noses and ungainly rear wings?

  6. andy c says:

    “This will be the team’s first foray into a global racing series.” – Didn’t they run A1 Team USA for a couple of years?

  7. CarlH says:

    ‘China Racing’

    I wonder how many boardroom meetings and focus groups they had to go through before coming up with that name?

    1. CanadaGP says:

      One more than Andretti Autosport and Drayson Racing needed to come up with their names. Btw, will Sauber F1 now be called Russia Racing?

      As an aside, I do hope the Andretti team has at least one up-and-coming American driver as their regular for the series.

  8. said it before , i cant wait .. will be good to see a new motorsport series start … i really hope its a success , and they listen to the fans.

    Matt

  9. Dennis Howard says:

    This is not Team Andretti’s first foray into a global racing series. They ran the US A1GP entry in 2008-2009.

  10. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    I think this series will be ELECTRIFYING!

    I hope they light up competition, keep grounded and avoid any short-circuit.

    1. CarlH says:

      There’s a pun in there somewhere…..

  11. Oliver W says:

    Quote This will be the team’s first foray into a global racing series.
    A1GP was a global racing series and Team USA was Andretti.
    Marco did drive with little to show for it.
    Conor Daly?

  12. j vann says:

    I still struggle to see how you can promote green energy (although how green is generating electricity) and emit god knows how many tonnes of co2 travelling around the world to promote it.

    1. Erik says:

      Generating electricity is not the evil of the world people make it out to be, when you consider the pollution we create pulling oil out of the ground, refining it using complex chemical processes then shipping and trucking it all over the world so we can put it in all our cars. If we cut out the refining process out of both petrol and electric technology then (because let’s face it it’s not exactly ‘clean’ to make dino juice), then the only polluting factor remains how they burn in cars – one emmits nothing, the other kills baby seals and rainforrests.

      I’m glad this is gaining momentum, Agag seems to be busy indeed. Although Andretti may struggle by year 2 or 3 once this formula takes off as developing your own car on the world stage has never been the forte of an Amrecican racing team.

    2. Paul Kirk says:

      And,J Vann, we’re probably paying their wages!
      PK.

  13. Robert N says:

    If all the teams use the Spark-Renault SRT_01E car for 2014, what will differentiate the teams? Will their only influence be on setup, or can they also change front wing design etc?

    Is the plan for teams to design their own cars from 2015 onwards?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes the spec cars are to get things going then it’s down to different manufacturers to compete and develop technology

  14. gudien says:

    Perhaps the people whom run Formula E will bring in Bernie Ecclestone for advice when it comes to tires, and dealing with bankers in various countries.

  15. Stuart says:

    I’m genuinely excited by this series because it sounds like something different. If they offer streaming online then I can imagine a lot of F1 fans watching it.

    James, I believe that the organisers intention is to attract F1 ‘exiles’ such as Jaime Alg and Kamui Kob. Realistically, how attractive will the series be to them and young drivers who have competed in GP2/FR 3.5? What type of drivers is it likely to attract? Cheers

  16. Paul Kirk says:

    Btw did anyone watch the recent electric saloon car races at Pau in France? I saw it last night, didn’t look too bad. Lotsa tyre noise!
    PK.

  17. franed says:

    The key to FE’s future lies in the TV deals. Without FTA TV it will fizzle out very quickly.

    This was dramatically illustrated on a BBC documentary a couple of nights ago, it was about Group B Rallying, I remember it well, as the docu said it was far bigger than F1, but that was in the 80s before almost everything but F1, was systematically eliminated from tv by the Bernie/Max team, while Jean Todt was busy saving Peugeot. Rallying disappeared from mainstream FTA tv and you have to hunt for it on tv now in the small hours as is the case with most other formulae, only non FIA BTCC and MotoGP are covered properly.

    So unless it’s to be like a local club hill climb, (and it’s far too expensive for that) it needs tv. Without tv there is no incentive for major sponsors.

  18. John Millar says:

    The current land speed record for electric cars is held by the Buckeye Bullet at 307.666 mph. This is more than 100 mph faster than Lord Drayson’s ‘land speed record’.

  19. jim says:

    A couple perceptions from an American.

    “The Andretti name will be a huge boost to the series in the USA, which is set to host two of the ten city-centre rounds in Los Angeles and Miami.”

    The Andretti name does nothing to boost the hapless AOWR series they race in now. It aint gonna do jack for FE.

    ” The Andretti racing dynasty, started by Michael’s father Mario, is like motorsport royalty in the USA.”

    Sure. Mario’s a King, but Michael’s regarded as the pretender and Marco’s defined himself as the jester. Once Mario’s gone, they have nothing. Until then, they’ll keep on wheeling Mario out as long as he’s able. When he can’t, then the gravy train is over. Sad, but true.

    1. JoeP says:

      As an American myself, and casual motorsports fan, let me say that your perspective – as dismissive and condescending as it is – is not one I share.

    2. FastGuy says:

      And from another American: Very well said, jim. Sad, but true.

      The Andretti name gives a certain stamp of approval to the non-racing public, but the rest of us are just reminded of what never quite was.

  20. Craig Smith says:

    This whole Green agenda, and the associated move to 1.6 V6 Turbo engines in F1 really irks me. Doesn’t the whole Green concept go out of the window when considering that these cars and their vast supporting infrastructure are regularly shipped around the globe? Emissions from F1 cars are absolutely insignificant in comparison to this and the manufacturing techniques involved in the production of these “Green” machines.

    Reminds me of the old Army adage: BBB

    1. Ross says:

      Absolutely spot on. But the point seems to be to make electric cars aspirational and to use racing to push technology development to make them much more usable too. If the millions of motorists begin buying electric cars because they’re enthralled by the racing prospect, that can only be a good thing for air quality in cities. Likewise, if the technology pushes electric car development like F1 has done with IC-powered cars, it could help bring the costs down and make them more appealing prospects to the average driver.
      Of course, what really hasn’t been bandied about yet is where all this electricity actually comes from in the first place…!

  21. Kevin says:

    At least they will be used to looking at ugly cars already. That will help the team immensely as they don’t have to counter their already suppressed gag reflex. Going to give them a huge disadvantage over the other teams who will frequently have to be cleaning up after “accidents”.

    1. Kevin says:

      Advantage, obviously I meant advantage. Must have been countering my own gag reflex and it distracted me. SEE what I’m saying! Huge advantage indeed.

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