How do you convince manufacturers to stick around and keep on participating in your racing series? Why, you fine them, of course! At least, that’s Formula E’s strategy.
Among the many new rules to be introduced in the Gen3 era—a boost of 470 horsepower, for example, while also reducing car weight by about 260 lbs—is a new one designed to deter manufacturers from leaving the sport: a fine.
Well, it’s not exactly a fine. But teams that quit will be required to pay the €300,000 ($415,000) registration and homologation fee that each competing team is required to pay each season—and continue to do so until the next rules cycle is introduced. And those quitting teams will have to do it within 60 days of withdrawing from the sport.
For a little context, FE is approaching its third generation of car. The Gen2 rules package has lasted for about four years. Had a manufacturer withdrawn right at the start of the package, it would have been required to pay over a million dollars just for the privilege of leaving.
Here’s the full text of the new rule, Article 7.4:
In the event a Manufacturer withdraws from the Championship prior to the end of the Cycle, the Manufacturer’s sole liability and the FIA’s exclusive remedy for such withdrawal shall be the payment of the World Championship registration and homologation fee for the Season from which the Manufacturer has withdrawn until the end of the Cycle, to be paid in one installment within 60 days from the effective date of withdrawal.
The Manufacturer shall be solely responsible for any consequences towards the Competitors it is supplying.
This is obviously a response to Audi and BMW both withdrawing from the series, the latter of which is leaving the Andretti Autosport team without a powertrain deal. But these are both pretty successful manufacturers that could afford a million-dollar penalty for leaving. FE designs its cars with the idea of cost savings in mind, but that still doesn’t take into account the amount of money required to run a successful team—development, travel, personnel, etc. It could easily be worth taking the hit.
But on the opposite side of things, it’s not ideal for a manufacturer withdrawing because, say, the money ran out. That hasn’t been an issue in FE yet, but it’s happened countless other times in other forms of motorsport. This may be less a deterrent to leave the series and more a deterrent from joining in the first place.