There was no disguising the glee of Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag this afternoon as he announced a seven year multi-million pound title sponsorship deal with robots to rapid charging tech giant ABB.
The first title sponsorship for an FIA single seater series will certainly raise some eyebrows, not least coming on the back of the announcements in 2017 that Mercedes and Porsche will join the series in it’s fifth championship season.
Agag noted that the series will now be called ABB Formula E championship and that special permission was needed from FIA president Jean Todt for an FIA series to have a title sponsor. This has never happened in Formula 1, unlike the Premier League, which had a title partner for many years, for example.
The deal will run until 2025 and ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer noted that this was the initial term, that they would decide what happened after that.
ABB is a world leader in electrical infrastructure and transportation as well as rapid charging and this is where the appeal lies for this partnership.
Formula E, which exists to promote electric vehicles and sustainable transport, is due to move to a single battery which can last a whole race in Season V. Agag suggested that with this deal the way was clear for Formula E to move quickly beyond that to the concept of much faster Formula E cars, which would run for flat-out stints, then ‘refuel’ by pitting for a ten second rapid charge before rejoining.
ABB plan to use the Formula E series to develop technologies that can be rolled out in urban mobility in future, much as F1 has done much to pioneer ‘track to road’ technologies in what he and Agag called ‘The race to the future’.
Spiesshofer predicted that with many governments around the world calling time on petrol and diesel powered cars in the next 20 years, “the damburst of a switch to electric cars’ is only a few years away.
Formula E is now it its fourth season and by Agag’s own admission almost failed at the end of the first season for financial reasons. A tactical investment by Liberty Global saved it and that investment is now looking quite smart as Formula E begins to take on some real momentum.
As Liberty Global is the sister company of F1 owners Liberty Media, both owned by John Malone, the group has a hedge on the future of single seater motorsport; surely at some point in the near future the series will be co-presented and beyond that may even converge.
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