The dominance of the Porsche and Jaguar-powered Formula E teams has shown the success of customer relationships in Gen3.
As the all-electric series reaches the halfway stage of the championship, it’s not only the ‘works’ outfits that are in contention for the titles, with a handful of customer teams also showing promising pace up to now.
This season sees the most ‘customer’ and ‘manufacturer’ relationships in Formula E, building on the model that gave Mercedes and Venturi such success in seasons seven and eight.
Season nine sees four customer teams relationships across the grid, with the Stelantis brands of DS Penske and Maserati MSG having different powertrains but a close technical relationship.
NIO 333 are the only manufacturer without a customer team. While the team have made some solid strides into Gen3, Team Principal Alex Hui understands that they aren’t quite in the position to support a customer team, despite the benefits.
“We were not competitive in the Gen2 era, to be 100% honest, so it is not surprising that we do not have someone wanting to be our customer,” he said.
“For us in a relatively small organisation, I think we may not gain as much from having a customer; we may stress our resources too much to support a customer.”
After a disappointing Valencia test, Porsche and Andretti came out of the gates flying in the first races of the year, with podiums and wins across both teams.
Towards the latter stages of the first half of this season, Jaguar and Envision have begun to build momentum, with Jaguar power locking out the podium in Sao Pãulo and the team getting their first 1-2 in Berlin.
Speaking to the press before the weekend, Jaguar Team Principal James Barclay explained how customer team relationships are becoming the “norm” in the series and how the benefits are beginning to show.
“I think it means that there’s an ability, where possible and where relevant, to say ‘what are you doing, what are we doing, can we together improve’ and I’m sure there’s been learning both our sides working together which has been great,” he said’
“Together, we’re stronger for sure and, what is amazing, it has become the norm. I think if you didn’t have a customer team and it’s down to lone manufacturers. It’s quite challenging.”
The Team Principal of Andretti, Roger Griffiths, echoed these sentiments on the strength of these relationships when he sat down with Motorsport Week before the race in Cape Town.
Griffiths has also highlighted the importance of developing relationships (link article) to gain the most success. Despite the teams only working together since the start of season 9, the groundwork started long before.
“When we first started talking to Porsche, I think it was officially back in Saudi of season eight, so quite early on.
“From the outset, we’ve always been focused on a partnership. Like any partnership, there’s that getting to know each other period; then there’s that honeymoon period, and then there’s the just getting down to work period.”
With half of the season still left to play out on familiar tracks to the teams, the strength of the communication between customers and manufacturer teams could drive the championship fight.
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