The rumors, it turns out, have not been exaggerated: Porsche is shutting down its LMP1 racing program, and charging head-first into Formula E instead.
If the move sounds familiar, it should. Less than a year ago, Porsche’s sister company Audi called it quits as well on its victorious LMP1 effort while gradually ramping up its involvement with Abt’s Formula E team to the point that it’s now a full factory effort.
Earlier this month, BMW also announced its entry into the electric racing series, and Mercedes followed suit just days ago – ending its long involvement in Germany’s popular DTM touring car series, where it has until now competed against BMW and Audi. Rival luxury automaker Jaguar also has a team in Formula E, as do Renault and PSA’s premium DS brand.
“Entering Formula E and achieving success in this category are the logical outcomes of our Mission E project. The growing freedom for in-house technology developments makes Formula E attractive to us,” said Porsche’s R&D chief Michael Steiner. “Porsche is working with alternative, innovative drive concepts. For us, Formula E is the ultimate competitive environment for driving forward the development of high-performance vehicles in areas such as environmental friendliness, efficiency, and sustainability.”
Porsche confirmed its intention to continue running the 911 RSR in the GT classes of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the associated FIA World Endurance Championship, and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in North America. But with no prototype program, it won’t be competing for overall victory any longer.
Thus ends a highly successful four-year program that resulted in three consecutive Le Mans wins (further cementing Porsche’s standing as the most successful in the race’s long history) as well as two world championships (in both the drivers’ and teams’ classifications). That leaves Toyota for the time being as the only front-running hybrid prototype team, but with no one to race against, the Japanese manufacturer may be forced to withdraw as well.