With the cost to run a championship-level Formula One team has hovered around the half-billion dollar level for the last decade or so. Now, obviously that cost will be significantly decreased with the new regulations mandating teams spend no more than $145 million starting in 2021. Knowing that, what do you think it costs to run a Formula E team? The modern series uses future technology and employs some of the best drivers in the world, so surely it’s got to be expensive, right?
According to public filings, Jaguar spent just shy of $12 million to run a two-car FE team in the 2018-19 season. Less than 10 percent of F1's cost capped 2021 season? Astonishing.
And now, thanks to a few new rules, the 2020-21 season of Formula E will also cost less, and have less impact on the environment. The series is committed to reducing costs, as the original plan was to keep the price of a full season down to under $3.3 million plus the cost of building the car.
The first change is a reduction in the amount of tires teams are allowed to use per race event. Currently teams are allowed to use four front tires and four rear tires per driver per event, including practice, qualifying, and the race itself. For next season that will be slashed by 25 percent to three of each. That means teams will not be able to put a full fresh set of tires on before the race. Drivers will need to conserve their tires throughout the on-track sessions to make sure they have good ones come race time.
Team operational staff at the track will be reduced from 20 people to 17 people. This cuts down on travel expenses and reduces the series’ emissions footprint as that’s about 50 people not bouncing around the world when the whole grid is taken into account. Teams will be allowed to use a team of six people in a remote garage back at team headquarters to assist the 17 people on-site.
Further, the series will reduce the number of times per season that brake components, including pads and rotors, can be swapped. This will mean a reduction in the cost of component replacement, but it could mean a greater reliance on regenerative braking and drivers may need to conserve brake components through the season to get the most out of them.
Formula E teams are currently allowed to build their own powertrain components within a certain rule set, including inverters, motors, cooling systems, and transmissions. Ahead of the new third-generation Formula E cars set to be introduced for the 2022-23 season, teams will only be allowed one new powertrain homologation. For example, a team could opt to introduce a new powertrain this fall for the 2020-21 season, but then they’d have to keep that setup through the end of the 2021-22 season. Conversely, a team could use their current powertrain configuration through the end of next season and introduce a new one-year-only setup the season after.
Speaking of one-year-only setups, the Gen 2 Evo bodykit was scheduled to be introduced this fall, but was postponed until fall 2021 in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The series is now debating cancelling the Evo upgrades altogether as another means of cutting expenses for teams. As much as I was looking forward to the huge shark fin and exposed tires, I understand the need to keep expenses from ballooning out of control.
A season of Formula E costs only slightly more than a season of DTM. And when was the last time you gave a shit about a DTM race? No wonder Audi is leaving.