Competition improves the breed, and Porsche is seeking greater competition. After 19 victories at Le Mans, including a hat trick of Le Mans victories in the last three years, and two successive WEC championships, Porsche is throwing in the towel in LMP1 in favor of Formula E. Porsche's GT program will continue unabated, as a high and diverse level of competition in the GT classification is keeping the series vibrant. Porsche will continue its LMP1 program through the end of 2017, with high hopes for repeating its WEC championship success in its ultimate LMP1 season.
With the debut of the Mission E-based production car on the horizon, as well as other production Porsche electric models, Porsche is eager to pursue competition machines based on the same technology.
“Entering Formula E and achieving success in this category are the logical outcomes of our Mission E project. The growing freedom for in-house technology developments makes Formula E attractive to us,” said Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board of Porsche AG responsible for Research and Development. “Porsche is working with alternative, innovative drive concepts. For us, Formula E is the ultimate competitive environment for driving forward the development of high-performance vehicles in areas such as environmental friendliness, efficiency, and sustainability.”
Formula E launched in 2014
That's the same year Porsche returned to LMP1 with the first iteration of the 919 Hybrid. Like the 919, the series has grown and matured in the intervening years. According to Fritz Enzinger, the VP in charge of LMP1 and Porsche's return to top level endurance racing, "Building up the Le Mans team from scratch was a huge challenge. Over the years, we have developed an incredibly successful and professional team. This will be our basis going forward. I am certain that we will maintain our high level in Formula E. Confidence is high, and we are excited to get started.”
Porsche has reportedly already taken the first steps towards producing their first Formula E racer. The Formula E series is continually attracting new manufacturers, and Jaguar joined the fray last Fall alongside Renault, Abt, Penske, Venuri, and Virgin.
What's Going To Happen To The LMP1 Team and Factory Drivers?
Porsche made it a point to say the intend to keep the successful LMP1 team fully intact, including the factory drivers. Probably not a bad idea given the team's success and how hard it would be to replicate that starting anew.
Porsche Back in Open Wheel Racing
Porsche's presence in Formula E will mark the brand's first appearance in open wheel racing since their short-lived Formula 1 effort in 1991. Like Formula 1, Formula E is governed by the FIA. The series is focused on promoting electromobility, and drawing younger enthusiasts to motorsport. The Formula E season begins in the fall and ends in the summer, with most races taking place on tight and technical street circuits, bringing the racing ever closer to the fans.