Formula E – A New Chapter in Porsche’s Motorsport History
Porsche is very well represented in the Automobilist catalogue of artwork, which is no surprise given the German marque’s presence in some form of motor sport, more or less uninterrupted since the late 1940s. The most recent posters reflect Porsche’s very latest racing venture, the Porsche 99X Electric, the car entered by the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.
If the Tag Heuer Porsche name has a familiar ring to it, that’s because in the mid-Eighties, an engine with that moniker won 25 Formula 1 Grands Prix and three world championship titles. However, Formula 1 has been something of an amuse-bouche on Porsche’s motor sport menu, as the Zuffenhausen brand has generally focussed on competition that has a more obvious link to the ubiquitous man-in-the-street, albeit a man-in-the-street with a keen interest in powerful sports cars. In the Fifties, there were the great road races such as the Mille Miglia and the Carerra PanAmericana, the latter lending its name to possibly the most famous model in the Porsche range. Then came a string of victories in the Le Mans 24 Hours, featuring the 917, one of the most revered, yet feared (by its drivers) racing cars ever built. In total, the company went on to win the world’s most famous endurance race a record 17 times. On top of this came countless victories in all forms of racing and rallying, as well as the Paris-Dakar endurance event.
A great palmares is one thing, but a company that only looks to its past glories will not last long. Porsche has therefore been at the forefront of the latest electric powered car technology with its Mission E Strategy, that will see the company invest 6 billion Euro in e-mobility by 2022. Entering the world of Formula E was a logical step therefore, the FIA ratified championship being the only all-electric single-seater series in the world. Like all sport, Formula E has been affected by the global pandemic, but with a series that runs like a football championship, starting in winter and running to the following summer, the sixth series got underway as normal in late November 2019, but when it had to stop, the organisers came up with the unusual idea of holding the last six rounds on a variety of track layouts in Berlin, all crammed into a nine day period this August!
Formula E was ideally placed to cope with the current calendar difficulties, as the races are typically staged on street circuits in famous cities and coastal resorts, with the track and infrastructure temporarily erected with practice, qualifying to decide grid positions and the race itself, all taking place on the one day. The whole event is very much family friendly, aimed at an audience that might not normally consider attending a motor race. It’s a great way of building a new fanbase while also showcasing the electric technology that will eventually power all forms of private road transportation. The rules require all teams to use a standard chassis and battery, but the drive technologies are developed by the teams, which is why so many motor manufacturers have got involved. The TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team team has developed the Porsche E-Performance Powertrain and to achieve this it was able to rely on all the experience acquired from its all-conquering Le Mans 24 Hours-winning LMP1 hybrid technology cars. Formula E car technology has come a long way in what is still a relatively new series. Until Season 5, drivers needed to swap cars mid-race as batteries would not last the full distance and it was also the fifth year that saw the introduction of the Generation 2 car that looks more futuristic than anything currently racing in other series. The cars have also got faster, but it is still considerably cheaper to run a team here than in Formula 1, another reason it is attracting the interest of more and more manufacturers.
This first Formula E championship for Porsche has been a toe in the water exercise and the lessons learned will be applied in Season 7, when it will again field two cars, driven by Automobilist brand ambassador Andre Lotterer and former Formula 1 driver Pascal Wehrlein. Porsche will be putting all its racing experience into aiming for race wins with an eye on the drivers’ and teams’s titles too. Because of the Covid-19 effect, this unconventional race series will have one conventional aspect to it, in that races will all take place in 2021, with the first round in Santiago, Chile on 16th January.
To celebrate Porsche’s arrival on the Formula E scene, Automobilist was asked to produce two special posters. The first one commemorates the unprecedented nine days of racing in Berlin this August. As for the second, if Formula E and all-electric cars are the future of motor sport, then this poster embraces that concept with a design that captures what the racing might look like in a hundred year’s time.
Images courtesy Porsche / Shutterstock.com / Jens Mommens / Automobilist