Formula E

"We're just a sponsor" - ABT & Cupra partnership in Formula E about to end?

Tobias Wirtz

Tobias Wirtz

Since the ABT team returned to Formula E for the 2023 season, the Spanish automotive brand Cupra has been the title sponsor of the team from Kempten. After the company, based in Martorell near Barcelona, initially had big plans for the electric racing series, a continuation of its involvement is no longer considered certain. The reason for this could be the team's new powertrain supplier.

After ABT announced Lola Cars and Yamaha as its new powertrain suppliers from the coming season a few days ago, there is a big question mark over its continued partnership with Cupra. ABT announced in the press release that "... further building blocks such as title partners, sponsors (...) will be announced in the coming months".

"Formula E is a platform that interests us," emphasises Werner Tietz, Cupra Vice President for Research and Development, just recently to Il Messaggero. He categorically rules out becoming a manufacturer, at least for the remainder of the Gen3 era, which runs until summer 2026. "Certainly not in the next two seasons."

A year and a half ago, the statements at Cupra sounded very different: "We have the ambition to conquer Formula E, because the public are the car lovers of the future," said Antonino Labate, then Director of Strategy and Business Operations at Cupra, at the end of 2022 to e-Formula.news. "We can say that we are here to build something bigger - year after year."

Yamaha conflict for Cupra?

Could the problem lie with the new drive supplier that ABT has chosen? It is true that Lola Cars, just like the previous powertrain supplier Mahindra, is not a direct competitor for Cupra and the Volkswagen Group. However, the situation is different for Yamaha - Lola's technical partner.

The Japanese are a direct rival to Ducati both on the road and in the motorbike world championship. The Italian brand is also indirectly owned by Volkswagen via Audi.

Last electric series for Cupra

However, Cupra remaining with ABT is not completely off the table. Tietz suggests that the wording in the press release does not mean anything. "We are 'only' a sponsor of ABT. We normally make sponsorship decisions at the end of the season." However, a clear commitment to a long-term partnership looks different.

The joint project between ABT and Cupra in Extreme E came to an end at the end of last year. The team withdrew from the off-road series after three seasons. Cupra was also forced to leave the all-electric touring car championship ETCR after a two-year guest appearance as the series did not continue.

Formula E is the only remaining fully-electric motorsport programme for Cupra. It remains to be seen how long the Spaniards will ultimately compete in it.

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