Formula E needs to avoid political intrusion.
The lack of politics in Formula E is what makes the newest class of motorsport such a refreshing proposition. Until now, the lack of interest from larger conglomerate companies has left the racing to be done on the track. Teams work for themeselves and the drivers do the best job they can. No deals, no contracts and no backroom meetings to exert control on each other.
I have long voiced the opinion that too much off track influence in Formula 1 has damaged the series almost beyond repair. Manufacturer teams hold the cards while those with less money are forced to sign deals just to stay afloat. It is absolutely unacceptable that a team has the power to control and actively hinder their competitors with aged or inferior equipment.
From Big Fish to Small Fish
Formula E now faces an invasion from four of the biggest motoring companies in the world. It will be up to the organisers to protect their series from such toxicity. They need to take a very hard look at the state of Formula 1 and learn from their more experienced counterparts.
Engine manufacturers should not be able to throw money at whatever they please. Where Formula E really stands tallest among international racing series is the variety of its teams and power unit suppliers. As it stands, nine teams are manufacturing their own powertrains, they need encouragement to continue powering their own cars. To stop the likes of Mercedes destroying the harmony of the Championship, their spending is going to need to be controlled.
The larger manufacturers will not be given preferential treatment in Formula E. Thankfully, Formula 1’s farcical strategy group remains unique in world sport. They must respect the established teams and conform with the spirit of the Championship. While there is no question that the introduction of these big names will help the sport evolve, they must not treat this as a PR exercise. Formula E represents a solid source of income for all of these brands. All they need to do is compete to the best of their ability and the racing will do the rest.
From Small Fish to Big Fish
If the likes of Mercedes and Audi are able to plant their own drivers throughout the grid, what will happen to the fresh talent proving their potential? We cannot have teams spreading their roots of control through the grid with drivers contracted in their name. This is a growing problem in Formula 1. Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull currently hold contracts for over half of the grid. Its not good for the competition or the drivers, who are likely to fall away as many have before them.
I worry for some of the drivers who have found success in electric racing. Drivers once disregarded by Formula 1 teams have proven themselves as Champions since the inauguration of Formula E. Piquet Jr, Buemi and Di Grassi have all fallen from grace at the peak of their careers. Do we question what might have been? How many World Championships would they have won in a Mercedes?
It all comes down to keeping the competitors seperate from the day to day running or the sport. These new manufacturers are not bigger than the sport. They should come in and compete the same as any other team. Their budgets, technology and experience will be a huge gain to the Formula, so long as they respect it. Hopefully the teams that come in to compete in Formula E bring spirit that made the DTM such a success.