Ferrari has an 'open invitation' to join electric motor racing, Formula E chief says

Key Points
  • Manufacturers have been using Formula E to showcase their green credentials and team overheads are reportedly far cheaper than in Formula One.
  • Races are generally more competitive as well with a greater spread of winning drivers. But there is a speed cost for motor sport fans with Formula E cars being around 25% slower than their non-green rivals.
Andrew Ferraro | Getty Images

The boss of Formula E, the electric-powered racing series that first launched in 2014, told CNBC that he would be open to the idea of adding a Ferrari car to its start line.

The Italian luxury car brand is set to unleash its debut range of hybrid supercar models by the end of 2019, prompting speculation that it might decide to showcase its electric technology on the race track.

"I would love Ferrari to come, especially with Porsche and all the others here, it would be a great fight. You know let's see. It's an open invitation," Formula E Chairman Alejandro Agag said to CNBC last week.

Ferrari is already a key attraction within the world of petrol-powered Formula One and even receives special payments from that competition in order to compete. However, given that rival high-end car manufacturers Mercedes and Porsche are entering Formula E for the 2019/20 season, Agag sees a place for Ferrari as well.

"You will always have the niche of ultra-high powerful cars that will be able to run fast and I think Ferrari definitely is that. Ferrari would never limit the top speed of their cars, but they will have to adapt in the future to whatever the landscape is and of course I think the landscape is electric," added Agag.

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Manufacturers have been using Formula E to showcase their green credentials and team overheads are reportedly far cheaper than in Formula One. Races are generally more competitive as well with a greater spread of winning drivers. But there is a speed cost for motor sport fans with Formula E cars being around 25% slower than their non-green rivals.

The Formula E chairman also told CNBC he was flattered by recent comments made in April by former Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, when he called Formula E the stronger investment bet as the future of motor sport.

"Bernie obviously is a genius. He created Formula One as it is today and he has a great vision of the whole map of motor sport and for him to say something like that I think is a great testimony for Formula E," Agag said. He also told CNBC of his friendship with Ecclestone but played down his involvement in Formula E.

"Obviously I would welcome Bernie as an investor anytime, but we're not there yet," said Agag. "I think in general there can be very rapid growth in front of Formula E, but also simply because we are a lot smaller. So we have a lot more room to grow, because Formula One is bigger."

Earlier this month Formula E posted a 26.4 million euro ($29 million) loss during its fiscal year ending July 31, 2018, despite generating a record 133.4 million euros worth of revenue, according to its latest set of results.

Despite the losses, Agag is comfortable with the position the brand is in after just five years of the project. He's transitioning roles within the organization from CEO to chairman, but plans to be no less hands-on and wants to maintain an innovative approach to motor racing.

"We can adopt crazy ideas that other sports can't, because they have all this past heritage. We can risk fumbles." explained Agag.

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Ideas which include "attack mode," which has been likened to a feature more suited to the video game franchise of "Mario Kart." It's activated when drivers take their car off the racing line, and through the "activation zone" where they're able to collect an extra 25kW of power for a few extra laps.

"That has had a fantastic impact on the championship, on the viewership and on the fans. I think innovation for Formula E, like racing in cities, is part of our DNA," said Agag.

Formula E will also be making a return to the streets of London for next season, potentially with a double-header. It'll be the first time since 2016 that the race will take place there with a first-of-its-kind indoor and outdoor track to be constructed in the docklands area of East London.