Manufacturers vs. their customers: The forgotten battle in the 2023 Formula E title race
This weekend, the decision in Formula E will be made: Jake Dennis will be fighting three rivals for his first world championship title in the drivers' standings of the electric racing series. Away from the media attention, however, an exciting battle is also brewing in the teams'world championship at the Hankook London E-Prix. It is about glory, honor, bragging rights and the direct comparison between factory and customer teams.
The number 195 is omnipresent ahead of the Hankook London E-Prix 2023. In arithmetic games, social media graphics and media reports, the number of points scored by Jake Dennis (Andretti) appears again and again. 195 points, that is already the third-most points scored by a driver in a season. Only Jean-Eric Vergne and Stoffel Vandoorne, who collected 198 and 213 points in 2018 and 2022 respectively, are still ahead of him in this ranking. Both became champions at the end of the year.
In the midfield of Formula E, on the other hand, many teams are dreaming of getting even close to the 195-point mark. Maserati's drivers Maximilian Günther and Edoardo Mortara have only collected a combined 130 points, while the DS-Penske duo Vergne/Vandoorne have scored 153. In the drivers' standings, the quartet is so far only in midfield. But it is there in particular that an exciting competition is taking place ahead of the Hankook London E-Prix that has so far received little attention: the battle for the best manufacturer results.
Few points separate McLaren from top-10 finish in debut season
Let's set the scene: In the 2023 Formula E season, with the exception of Nio 333, all constructors equip not only a factory team but also a customer team with powertrains. By regulation, they must do so as soon as an interested rival asks them to. But cooperation with other racing teams has undisputed advantages for the manufacturers, so that many would now probably also voluntarily look for powertrain partners.
Because instead of two, four cars can collect vehicle data, for which in turn software solutions are developed in joint briefings. In some cases, reserve drivers are also shared.
The disadvantage of powertrain cooperation is that it creates competition for large manufacturing teams from within their own ranks. This is because the hardware, i.e. the entire drive package including the e-motors, transmissions and inverters, is identical in construction for factory and customer teams. And so it comes at little surprise that for many it's also about the prestige of finishing the season ahead of their powertrain partner.
Stellantis, Mahindra & Nissan teams in competition
This thought takes us back to DS, Maserati and Co. Just 23 points separate the two teams from the Stellantis Group after 14 races - with the factory DS team currently ahead. "The podium is everyone's goal," says Maserati motorsport boss Giovanni Sgro, setting the tone for the finale. MSG team boss James Rossiter clarifies: "Before the final race weekend, we are 23 points short of a place within the top 5. We will do our best to catch up."
Overview: The "manufacturer standings" of Formula E 2023
|Pos.||Points||Manufacturer||Works team||Customer team|
|1||481||Jaguar||Jaguar (228)||Envision (253)|
|2||457||Porsche||Porsche (239)||Andretti (218)|
|3||283||Stellantis *||DS Penske (153)||Maserati MSG (130)|
|4||165||Nissan||Nissan (79)||McLaren (86)|
|5||50||Mahindra||Mahindra (33)||ABT Cupra (17)|
|6||34||Nio 333||Nio 333 (34)||-|
as of the 2023 Rome E-Prix
* both brands are de facto registered manufacturers, but share the powertrain developed by DS
The situation is similar for Mahindra and ABT (16 points between the two) and Nissan and McLaren. Here, the McLaren customer team is merely seven points ahead. "The year so far has been an adventure," Ian James, team principal of the British team, sums up before the final E-Prix. "However, we have also had challenging times and have had a number of poor results that have fallen short of our expectations. Nevertheless, the team has learned a lot," James said.
His driver, Rene Rast, is optimistic ahead of the London race, "We hope we can put it all together in qualifying and in the races and score some points. Our pace has always been strong (in these sessions). We want to end the season on a high."
Only 25 points between the top 3 in the championship
But it is at the top of the world championship standings where things are most exciting: Envision Racing is just 15 points ahead of the Jaguar factory team, while Porsche has a 19-points lead over Andretti. With a theoretical 94 points still possible for the teams' championship, the winner here is also far from certain. "We have to work hard," says Porsche team principal Florian Modlinger. "Whoever doesn't make mistakes in London will be at the front in the end. That's our goal."
The outcome of the championships will be decided on the weekend of July 29-30. Both races start at 6 p.m. CEST. e-Formula.news is in London and will cover each session of the weekend as usual with extensive reporting.