Ferrari: “We need to be involved in Formula E”

2017 F1 season

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Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has given his clearest indication yet the Italian manufacturer is considering a future move into Formula E.

Marchionne told FIA publication Auto he believes Ferrari “needs” some kind of participation in the all-electric single-seater championship.

“We need to be involved in Formula E because electrification via hybridisation is going to be part of our future,” said Marchionne.

Formula E returns to Mexico this weekend
A move into Formula E would harmonise with changes in the type of engines used in Ferrari’s road cars, he explained.

“Hybridisation is crucial to Ferrari. There is no denying that regulations put us under pressure, but we could reach those targets in other ways. The challenge is to benefit from hybridisation not just in terms of emissions reduction, but also performance.”

“We have already developed a hybrid supercar, La Ferrari, and on future Ferrari models we will leverage new technologies as well as electrification.”

Marchionne has previously said Ferrari would not enter Formula E until its technical regulations were relaxed to allow manufacturers greater freedom to develop the cars. He also criticised the current race structure under which drivers use two cars per race, swapping them at half-distance.

Last week Formula E announced which manufactures will participate in its fifth championship which will begin in 2018. Renault, BMW, Jaguar, DS Automobiles, Penske, Mahindra, ABT, Venturi and NextEV were all granted entries. The series will also use new standard batteries developed by McLaren Applied Technologies which are intended to eliminated the need to change cars mid-race.

Marchionne’s comments come as Formula One begins works on its engine regulations for 2021 and beyond. FIA president Jean Todt has already stated a move away from the current V6 format towards ten or twelve cylinders would not be supported by most car manufacturers.

However Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel has previously said he is not a fan of Formula E. When the championship was launched in 2013 Vettel said he ‘didn’t like it at all’ and last week urged F1 to reintroduce V12 engines.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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52 comments on “Ferrari: “We need to be involved in Formula E””

  1. Wake up Ferrari and Vettel – this is the future…10-15 years and F1 is electric..

    1. I am not really sure of that. I think we need to change how we think about engines 1st, 2nd about vehicles and 3rd… about transport and roads systems. What engine we’ll be using in 10 years is mostly irrelevant.

    2. Future is self driving cars. But hopefully not self driving race cars…

  2. This will be great for Formula E.

    When people in general think of motorsports they think Ferrari and Michael. They were so dominant in the past decade that everyone knows what they are capable of.

    So when this manufacturer enters a new field of racing fans and people with curiosity will try to find out whats happening. This will open up FE to a whole new band of viewers.

    Also although FE does not lack the appeal of F1 with speeds or sounds it makes up for it by quality racing (ignore the fan boost).

    Ferrari might also be considering adding their junior drivers to the scene so they gain experience before driving their F1 machines.

    1. I didn’t know that I am so popular in Motorstport :).

    2. I got an eerie demonstration of this from a colleague yesterday. I mentioned that I’d watched the F1 race on Sunday and was asked, “How did Michael Schumacher do?” He was so crestfallen when I advised him that Michael retired in 2012 and had a skiing accident the year afterwards…

  3. This could be great for Formula E – Ferrari brings a lot of fans with it and a move into Formula E could bring Formula E more into the mainstream.

  4. Would love to see this happen. Even more I would wish to see Tesla involved in Formula E. With the continuing development in battery technology it would be great to see FE race with one car for the entire race rather than switching cars. With more big name manufacturers adding their input this seems more likely to be a possibility. Especially with Tesla were they to get involved.

  5. invisiblekid
    30th March 2017, 17:27

    And anything we can learn about electric power in Formula E we can bring to Formula 1 before Ross Brawn initiates any kind of budget limit.

    A bit flippant I know, but it was just for the crack.

    1. Any budget capping will likely affect chassis development, not the powertrain. That’s under the roof of the respective manufacturers and is effectively unlimited, because money, expertise and R&D can easily be done in other areas of the business.

      Also, Brawn is clearly intelligent enough to understand what is good for one series is good for others if applicable – there’s no sense in F1, Formula E and all the feeder series (and even WEC and non-FIA events) not learning from each other.

  6. Yeah. Ferrari need to be there. Like they now have almost entire fleet turbocharged. Soon all their cars will be hybrid. All kinds of F1 F2 tech could enter supercars. Especially improved combustion efficiencies and electrification.

  7. The car swapping of formula e is for me the most interesting part of the race. I will only keep watching then if it allows almost free development and diversification as marchon new says, and, a big AND, if the cars start going way faster. Right now it’s a race of turtles.

    1. They’ve taken the old adage of winning at the slowest speed possible to a new level.

      1. Exactly. Their logo should be a tortoise with a lightening bolt on his shell.

    2. The petrol engine started the same way. They were so slow they had to have a man with a flag walking in front of them. They were unreliable and the range sucked. Look at cars now. Look to electric cars in the future, they will out-perform ICE in every aspect in a few years.

      1. Tiomkin, you do realise that the story of having a person walking in front of the cars is essentially a myth? Yes, there was such a requirement in the 1860’s – however, that was intended only to apply to steam traction engines and was subsequently removed from the statute books before the petrol powered motor car became commercially available.

      2. In any case, that rule wasn’t to warn of a slow-moving vehicle – it was to warn of an unfamiliar type of unusually heavy and large vehicle, which back then could easily be fatal to a pedestrian, even at literally pedestrian speeds. As people got used to them, the speed limits were increased and methods of monitoring that which could keep up with those increased limits had to be devised.

  8. I’d rather it didn’t happen, not a fan of Formula E at all, the sounds are unbearably weak and the cars aren’t that fast at all.

    People may have different opinions about Ferrari, but the team is still a symbol of Formula 1. I don’t think Formula 1 nor Ferrari would benefit from being associated with Formula E. When rich people go out and buy Ferraris they’re buying the beautiful, aggressive sports cars, not environmental-friendly family cars. Ferrari was never the brand for the mass public, not even the upper-middle-class that is dominated by Audi and Mercedes. That’s why I can see Mercedes entering Formula E, but Ferrari’s entrance is just absurd.

    1. @ducpham2708 whilst I partially agree that Formula E is not a particularly exciting formula in terms of its spectacle at the moment – due to noise, circuits, poor quality drivers..etc I think it naive to assume it won’t massively improve. Already the introduction of technology that means they won’t have to swap cars midway through the race will massively improve the ‘show’. Give it a few years and Formula E could be producing cars good enough to race on traditional F1 circuits in an exciting way. The technology race that will occur within that sport is possibly more relevant to modern cars than F1 has been ever. I think any manufacturer would be daft not to at least consider getting involved in some way.

      1. @shadow13 agree, apart from one detail, their grid, driver wise is quite good if you ask me

        1. Yeah I suppose they are really in comparison to most other series.

      2. Yeah you know i would totally like FE to be interesting but i think their rules basically kill any excitement off. No proper developement becuase jada jada jada time to get started lalalala. Crappy tracks because our godawful spec car isn’t just slow but also doesn’t last. Actually i’d rather f1 opened the rules to also allow fully electric and delimit electro parts of the current engine. The REAL bright minds and money will start going at it and, much like renault in the 70ies started the turbo era, some manufacturer would dare to jump to fully electric and make it competitive. and later superior. But development, variety and innovation in f1 was sadly outruled somewhere between senna’s death and the mandatory v8s in 06.

      3. @shadow13
        also, we would not suffer from all this whining about new engines if they had legitimately beat their predecessors and fought their way to the top of the food chain like the first turbos back in the day.

        1. Yup, this is a very good point. People complain F1 is not road relevant, but how could it be if innovation isn’t encouraged anymore?

          F1 never made itself to be representative of the road car, but its technology eventually washed down to it. Today we have the best engineers trying to make the most competiteve machines under a defined set of rules.

          1. @johnmilk, to be blunt, it is often claimed that is the case but, in reality, there hasn’t been a great deal of technological transfer from the track to the road – if anything, at times the transfer has gone the other way. It has always boiled down to “engineers trying to make the most competiteve machines under a defined set of rules”, and currently Formula E is little different to the rest of the wider world of motorsport in that respect.

          2. and currently Formula E is little different to the rest of the wider world of motorsport in that respect.

            Definitely, that wasn’t the point that I was commenting on. I was just agreeing with the two previous comments from MrBoerns

    2. Interesting take but I disagree. A tesla model s is incredibly fast and luxurious, less money than a Ferrari but none the less impressive.
      I think it’s a market segment that Ferrari is seeing and wants to be a part of.
      Their entrance in fe would be good for everyone.

    3. Maybe they should do what some manufacturers are doing now (I think it’s dumb but …) and create synthesized racing sounds. Yes, electric motors don’t make a lot of noise which is part of their appeal but this is racing after all.

  9. This is a slow motion car crash. Liberty Media better get their strategic heads around this or they bought a $10 billion boat anchor.

  10. The whole Formula E thing perplexes me somewhat. It seems to be getting the attention of some big manufacturers, but with notable absences like zero input from Japanese car companies, zero input from e-car “giant” Tesla with their otherworldly battery life, it still seems like more of a “feel-good” series to assuage Euro environmental guilt than a real racing category. Top that off with fan-boost, mid-race car swapping, and euro-techno music played over the electric motor whine, to say nothing of crap circuits like Hong Kong, and it just doesn’t motivate me.

    1. I’d be a helluva lot more interested in seeing a LaFerrari based LMP1!

      1. Ooooohhh… how awesome would that be?!? I’d love to see that too.

    2. It’s my understanding that Tesla did not want to go along with the mid-race car swap idea. Certainly improved battery development by Tesla and others to eliminate that swap would help improve the show.

      1. @bullmello, why are you giving credit to Tesla for battery development? If you want to give credit to anybody, give it to Panasonic given they actually manufacture the batteries that Tesla uses.

        1. Both Panasonic and Tesla are contributing to battery design and development at their Gigafactory. I mention Tesla as pushing the battery envelope in regards to cars although batteries being produced at the Gigafactory will be used for other purposes as well.

          1. Wrong. The battery development is done by Panasonic. At best Tesla can be credited with supporting development on packaging of battery cells. What’s more, Tesla owns no IP on batteries that give a competitive advantage, and has no technology that isn’t readily available to GM, Daimler, et al. Furthermore, Tesla’s capital investment is “all-in” on Li-ion, which is going to prove disastrous when a better chemistry emerges.

  11. And we just received word that a sudden blizzard has stricken Hell.

  12. Good for them. Formula E is a marketing effort by everyone involved anyway, a good technical exercise. That’s about it for me, at least at this point. It looks good to be in Formula E, and Ferrari probably want its benefits too.

  13. They probably wouldn’t need to bother running the Fanboost polls any more…

    1. I wonder if this is a way of Ferrari negotiating to keep their ‘special status payments’ in F1. If liberty media know Ferrari are interested in entering other formulae it may make them keener to ensure they keep them in F1, by keeping the payments going.

  14. Can you imagine the Prancing Horse on the FE grid? Oh yeah!!! Do it Sergio!!

  15. Estaban de los Casas
    30th March 2017, 21:19

    Regardless of how they are powered or this need to drive two cars in a race are things that are unique to this level of sport…..but the race cars themselves look superb and aggressive. A hot looking racecar trumps an ugly perhaps better performing car.

  16. Is FE all that relevant? It just seems like a sideshow to me. I live in the states and we get very little coverage. From the little I’ve seen, I didn’t find it at all interesting. The cars just look and sound like oversized RC cars. If Ferrari does enter, that will definitely improve their profile.

  17. suryana (@mursidsuryana)
    30th March 2017, 22:01

    The drivers are exciting. It is just the matter of time for Ferrari and Tesla to join FE.

    1. Yes, Tesla can sell some more shares to pay for a formula e effort.

  18. Michael Brown (@)
    30th March 2017, 22:51

    I’d rather Ferrari go into LMP1.

    And get rid of FanBoost already!

  19. Perhaps they could do a team up with Prema Powerteam or AF Corse (their WEC division) similar to Renault teaming up with DAMS to form Renault eDams…

  20. Shaun Robinson (@)
    31st March 2017, 8:18

    In my opinion, the better and more road relevant Formula E gets, the less relevant F1 has to be. An increase in Formula E participation from manufacturers could allow Formula 1 to go for the cheaper, lighter, louder V12’s again. Hand over all this issue of ‘road relevance’ to FE and have F1 as a spectacle again!

  21. The series will also use new standard batteries developed by McLaren Applied Technologies which are intended to eliminated the need to change cars mid-race.

    Ironically McLaren’s own F1 issues might be less if they were allowed to swap to a new car mid-race.

  22. I think it is kinda sad that everybody wants v12 engines but everybody also thinks it is an impossibility to have them. F1 is in strange shape today. It is almost like the roles of lemans and f1 have been switched. F1 engines need to last longer than lemans engines, the drivers need to save fuel in f1 while the lemans cars go flatout their whole races. It also used to be that the lemans cars were more powerful although the current top contenders in lemans do output more power than the f1 cars. What is common though is that costs have run out of control. But in the end f1 has become the endurance racing series whereas lemans is the test bed for new tech.

    Screaming v12 would solve all these issues. First we would get the show back in f1. The cars would sound and FEEL like race cars. Something completely unheard of in modern motorsports. Instead of using empty adjectives like “green” and “efficient” you can blow the dust off of the words like raw, brutal and exciting.

    Using less powerful engines would also bring back some aerodynamic sense in f1. Now everybody is using maximum downforce all the time because the engines allow you to go fast in straight line. With less power the teams can not pile all the wings they want on the cars which should take some costs off from the expensive aero development. It would also bring back slipstreaming as the cars are more effected by following other cars on straights. The less power the more pronounced the slipstreaming would become again = more real passing instead of button pressing. And at the same time following in corners would become easier because the cars would have less downforce.

    Then there is the cost argument. Amazing v12 engines can be built at tenth of the cost of these boring lawnmower hybrids. And not just that but there would be engine performance parity because v12 engines are more better understood. And even then new technologies could be allowed by making the engine building rules more free.

    The key thing however is this. F1 is not all about the engines. They just aren’t that important. If you want high tech in F1 you can do with the other components of the car. Active suspension, movable wings, wings connected straight to suspension, cvd transmission, augmented reality, organic materials, actual green technology where f1 overall reduces its carbon footprint instead of trying to look like it does when it builds thousands of batteries using toxic environmentally dangerous materials and charging them with coal power… the list is endless. F1 has become way too obsessed about engine technology and we all know where that road leads. Full electric cars.

    I think it is better for f1 to move their focus from engines to other technologies in the car. F1 has to be more than just a testbed for hybrid engine pr. Engines can not be the only the technology draw in f1 for the manufacturers. Because once we have gone full electric there is no next step. It is better to invent new technology paths now when there is still time.

  23. Le Mans engines have to last 30 hours (as in, not managing 3 x 2-hour qualifying sessions plus the 24-hour race is a disqualifiable offence without a special waiver). 30 hours.

    There’s a 2-hour practise, which engines are engineered to withstand also. 30 + 2 = 32 hours.

    F1 engines must last 5 race weekends. Each has a compulsory element of 3 hours (maximum of 2 hours running time in the race, maximum 1 hour running time in qualifying). This gives a compulsory running time of 15 hours.

    There’s 4 hours of practise each weekend, which engines are engineered to withstand also, totalling 20 hours of optional practise that the cars are engineered to complete. 15 + 20 = 35 hours.

    Le Mans requires half as much of its engines as F1… …but F1 is more than engines, and the other parts of the car are almost entirely tested in race weekend practices these days. Once that is taken into account, F1 engines are engineered to run 3 hours longer than Le Mans ones.

    Yes, it would be possible to solve the whole engine problem with some fairly spectacular solutions that would take years to fully implement due to psuedopolitics. However, part of the problem could perhaps be solved as soon as 2018 if there was a practise-only engine allocation. I’m thinking reduced-performance engines permitted in only practises, paired with a reduction of qualifying/race-only engines to 3 (in a 20-race calendar: as with the present, the number would be increased pro-rata if the calendar expanded beyond 20). This has several advantages:

    1) The FIA gets to have its cake and eat it. Faster, more energetic racing [i]and[/i] more road-relevance. The points-paying bit seems more challenging to engines, but each engine in the qualifying and races has to cover less time (instead of 35 hours, they’d only need to do 21, assuming changes between qualifying and the race were still restricted) and so could be “turned up” higher.

    2) The reduced-power thing could be implemented through the ECU, meaning enforcement was pretty much guaranteed, and that the same engine design would be usable through the weekend. Easy enforcement helps build trust in racing and saves money.

    3) No more grid penalties for teams blowing up engines in practise. It’s not intuitive, it discourages running in practise (which stunts development of other areas, widens team gaps and bores spectators) and makes teams more likely to turn down engines in the race due to lack of point in going at full-tilt. (Penalties for qualifying and race engine blow-ups would remain).

    4) Practise would not give a 100% indicator of qualifying/race performance in the same sense as it does now. Since engine performance would be limited, there would be different behaviours in the car at “racing speed”, increasing the difficulty level for drivers.

    5) There’d be a crescendo effect for the audience: the cars would get noisier and lairier through the weekend.

    1. …and the 5th paragraph (“Le Mans requires half as much of its engines as F1…) is a mess. Sorry, I meant:

      “Le Mans requires twice as much of its engines as F1… …but F1 is more than engines, and the other parts of the car are almost entirely tested in race weekend practices these days. Once that is taken into account, F1 engines are engineered to run 3 hours longer than Le Mans ones.”

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