Avalanche Andretti came out of the gates flying in the first round of season 9, with their hallmark charges through the field being commonplace in several of the races throughout the season.
The team are powered by Tag Heuer Porsche who are also looking for a return to form after a difficult start of their Formula E journey.
Motorsport Week sat down with Andretti Team Principal Roger Griffiths to chat about the team’s season so far and how they set their new relationship with Porsche to be a success.
Being previously affiliated with BMW as their works programme in the sport, Andretti made the switch to becoming a Porsche customer team following BMW’s exit from the sport in season 7. Griffiths attributes much of the ongoing success that the team has had to the foundations that the BMW partnership built in the team.
“They certainly brought some really good aspects to the team, particularly around the discipline of how you operate a race weekend and things like that. We as Andretti came out of that relationship at the end of season 7 when we transitioned from a works team to a customer team for season 8 a lot stronger in terms of how we operated.”
With their UK-based operation out of Banbury, Griffiths believes the team’s small stature against the Goliaths of the sport is one of their best assets, allowing them to be dynamic with their decision-making.
“We don’t have a tremendous amount of hierarchy or procedures put in place to slow decision-making down.”
“Whereas a big OEM [original equipment manufacturer], that has always been a criticism. It doesn’t matter who you are, because of the inertia it takes to get things going and then to change direction, it’s like an oil tanker.”
“Whereas we’re more like a speed boat. We get going really quickly, we can stop very quickly, and we can change direction really quickly.”
Having had both experiences working as a customer team and a manufacturer when he was with Honda earlier in his career, Griffiths understood the importance of creating lasting relationships with Porsche to make a partnership work.
“When we first started talking to Porsche, officially back in Saudi of season 8 we talked about what kind of relationship could we have. I was very much of the opinion that we needed to be very open with each other as much as they were being prepared to do or be. And that was how we were going to get the results.”
“From the outset, we’ve always been focused on a partnership and like any partnership, there’s that getting to know each other period, and then there’s that honeymoon period, and then there’s the just getting down to work period.”
Griffiths highlighted the importance of the team’s ongoing view of their cars as a four-car operation as opposed to viewing themselves as two separate entities, taking inspiration from the working relationship between Mercedes and Venturi.
“We were seeing that Mercedes, at the time with Venturi, had effectively a four-car team that we anticipated was going to play pretty well, and it turned out it did.”
“It’s very fortunate that we’re next door to each other in the pit lane because their mechanics are in our garage, our mechanics in their garage asking questions. We have full access to all their information and likewise them to us.”
“There’s a lot of communication during the course of the race weekend, backwards and forwards, even during sessions. Florian [Modlinger] from Porsche and I have a direct link to each other in the garages during the race or during a session, so we can speak to each other and make sure we’re both on the same page.”
The collaboration in this relationship already runs deep. Without their own simulator set up in the UK, Andretti sends its drivers to the team base in Weissach to work alongside the works drivers to develop both of their cars.
Moreover, several of the Andretti engineers are based in Germany, just a few hours away from the Porsche HQ and the teams regularly exchange personnel with one another to benefit their continued development.
Collaboration is also something that Griffiths has nurtured with the American side of Andretti and their IndyCar set-up based in Indianapolis.
“We’re all talking to one another about how we go racing, the IndyCar guys are learning from us and we’re learning from them.”
“Michael [Andretti] is very keen to have all of the drivers get to know each other.”
“We still bring two US guys to work on the cars, two mechanics that come over for every race, plus myself and the more senior management group all comes from Indy, and we’ve also brought some of our Formula E guys over to do IndyCar races… there’s a bit of cross-pollination going on there.”
Leave a Reply