More momentum, more noise: The plans of new Formula E boss Jeff Dodds
Since June 5, Formula E has had a new managing director: Jeff Dodds. The Brit wants to give the series new momentum with a fresh strategy and make the championship the "loudest quiet sport in the world." The boss has also already made the first personnel changes: A top hire of his predecessor was fired last month
It's been about a month since Jeff Dodds took over the reins of Formula E. The handover of the "scepter" from his predecessor, Jamie Reigle, to Dodds was noticably unspectacular, at least in terms of public communication. Reigle left without fanfare; in a well-ordered press release, he thanked the championship and had series founder Alejandro Agag wish him success for the future. Then it was Dodds' turn.
Demonstratively, the Briton had already been pushed through the paddock, VIP area and starting grid by series founder and CEO Alejandro Agag at the Jakarta E-Prix, a few days before he actually took office, and introduced himself to Formula E shareholders. Good relationships with series business partners will be essential for Dodds. Especially because he wants to bring back the economic momentum of the championship.
"We need to strive to be the world's noisiest quietest sport"
The coronavirus pandemic has "hit the business pretty hard," the new CEO said in an interview with the Sports Business Journal. "We need to get back to create noise around our sport, get more people aware of it and interested in it. I have this contradiction: We need to strive to be the world’s noisiest quietest sport."
Part of that will be "making sure more people get to see (the product) and experience it. That might be marketing, comms, PR, it might be the odd stunt, different media deals with partners, it might be taking the racing to different countries who haven't experienced it before. It's a combination of all of those things," Dodds explained his vision. "We've got some amazing partners that we don't work closely enough with."
Dodds criticizes Reigle & replaces CCO
This can also be seen as criticism of Reigle. Formula E's Chief Commercial Officer Matt Scammell, whom Reigle had appointed only about a year and a half ago, has already left Formula E. Other changes, whether personnel or strategic, are likely to follow in the coming weeks.
Dodds, according to the report, wants to draw more value from existing parts of the series, including "sexy sports car brands" like Maserati and McLaren or cosmopolitan cities like Monaco, Rome, London and Berlin. However, just like his predecessors, he does not see the championship as a direct competitor to Formula 1. "We are very different," he explains. "Motorsport is an enormous global fanbase, and in order for us to be successful, F1 doesn’t have to lose or vice versa.
"We are at the intersection of technology and a net-zero environment, and what I love about Formula E is the racing itself is incredibly competitive. I’m a massive F1 fan and think it's an incredible spectacle, but (the racing) is more processional." Formula E, which counted 403 position changes in the last race in Portland (albeit not to the delight of anyone involved), is quite different. Perhaps that's just the kind of noise Dodds wants to see and hear more of in Formula E.