Andretti Sticks With Formula E Despite BMW Ditching

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Image: Andretti Autosport

Indianapolis-based Andretti Autosport have been involved in Formula E since the start, all the way back in 2014. The team has been operating under the BMW i Andretti Motorsport banner since the team joined forces with the Bavarian brand with the new second-gen chassis in 2018. While BMW officially exits the sport at the end of this season, Andretti will continue on with BMW power until the end of next season—season eight—ahead of the switch to Gen 3 for season nine. Once that supply contract is exhausted, Michael Andretti remains committed to the sport and confident the team will find another OEM partner for FE.

While the team couldn’t find victory lane on their own, it has won six e-Prix since receiving BMW power. Teammates Maximillian Gunther and Jake Dennis are sitting in 14th and 15th respectively in the championship at the moment, tied on 54 points each. BMW i Andretti is currently sixth in the teams’ championship.

Team boss Roger Griffiths was quick to note that the team would not be developing its own Gen 3 powertrain to replace BMW’s supply. Andretti tried that once before, back in 2015 in preparation for season two. That ATEC-01 powertrain never actually made it to race day, because it proved extremely cantankerous in pre-season testing. The team ultimately resorted to the standardized Renault-branded powertrain for the remainder of its time in the Gen 1 chassis. Andretti built a three-speed ATEC-02 design for season three, which proved reliable, but not fast, and an ATEC-03 for season four, which was even slower.

Michael Andretti told Autosport, “I definitely feel good about [BMW powertrains in 2022]. But I want to make a point. I hear rumors that we’re not going to be here. We’re 100% committed to Gen3 and all that going forward. We’re here to stay.”

When asked to discuss the prospect of future OEMs joining the Andretti operation, Michael admitted he’d prefer to stick with a road-going brand rather than an engineering firm like ZF or Bosch. “We’re working on it with a couple of manufacturers, and hopefully we can get something done. We’re looking more at an OEM. There’s a lot more on the marketing side, which could help.”

There were rumors going around the paddock that the team would work with McLaren for the next-generation powertrain. In spite of Andretti already being tied with McLaren boss Zak Brown in Extreme E and Australian Supercars efforts with his United Autosport concern, those Macca rumors seem to be dying on the vine. McLaren, meanwhile, has announced its own Extreme E effort for next season, and Brown himself has commented that Formula E doesn’t seem to be economically viable without a cost cap.

Despite the departure of BMW and Audi, there is still a bright future for Formula E, as it hopes to attract even more manufacturers, sponsors, and fans with the much faster and more powerful Gen 3 chassis debuting at the end of next year. I’m happy Andretti will stick around, and hope that the team continues to improve even beyond next season. Good racing among well-known teams is always welcome in the world, and we need more of it.

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