Porsche/Abt Formula E deal collapses – so what now?


The Abt Cupra Formula E team is in a race against time to find a powertrain supplier for next season after talks with Porsche about a deal for 2025 and 2026 recently ceased.

The team earlier this year curtailed its relationship with Mahindra beyond the end of the 2024 season, following a bruising 2023 campaign that produced scant results.

Talks began with Porsche before the end of last season and negotiations have been lengthy and are believed to have been intricate. This is mainly because Cupra, like Porsche, comes under the Volkswagen umbrella of brands.

Cupra is a partner of Abt’s but does not bring any technical expertise to the team at this stage. One possibility that is believed to have been discussed is that the Porsche powertrain could have been branded as Cupra’s, in similar fashion to how the DS powertrain is also known as a Maserati among the two Stellantis brands on the grid.

Porsche’s Florian Modlinger confirmed to The Race at Sao Paulo last week that “at this current stage I can say that next year we will have one customer team and that will be Andretti”.

On supplying multiple teams, Modlinger added: “It’s a challenge for every manufacturer in the series with the regulations you have.

“You have to supply one customer team, that’s obliged by the regulations. To supply a second team, it’s a big challenge.”

Abt’s difficulty in getting results with the Mahindra powertrain has continued into its second campaign with the manufacturer. Lucas di Grassi and Nico Mueller have not scored points in the opening four races, which is also the case for Mahindra duo Nyck de Vries and Edoardo Mortara.

Abt CEO Thomas Biermeier told The Race this week that “it’s no secret that we were in negotiations together with Cupra and Porsche”.

“These were long, and we had some good discussions,” he added.

“But in the end it didn’t work and so at this stage it looks as if they will have only one customer team next year.

“It’s many reasons: time reasons, financial reasons, so it’s a mixture of three, four, five topics.

“At the end it doesn’t work for Porsche, and it doesn’t work for Cupra, and it doesn’t work for Abt.

“If it’s not working we can’t force somebody to support Abt or to provide us with some powertrains, this you can’t do. In the end there were a lot of different topics and different reasons why it might not work.”

Biermeier added that the team is “committed to Formula E because we love Formula E”.

“We will fight for every point available in the remaining 12 rounds of the 2024 campaign because it’s clear that we have a team which is used to winning races or to fight for podiums or fight for trophies,” he said of Abt, which won 14 Formula E races during its time as Audi’s works partner and also clinched the 2016-17 drivers’ title with di Grassi and the teams’ crown the following year.

“If you have one season with the car where you can’t perform, this is fine, but now going into a second season and you still see how difficult it is for all four Mahindras to compete, to fight for points, to fight for podiums, it’s tough.

“This is tough for the whole motivation but it’s also clear our team, everybody, is professional, everybody is still fully focused, still fully motivated and fully committed to the programme.

“But we go each weekend and we want to achieve the best possible result with the current package and this is our motivation because we are fighters.”

Abt’s existing alternatives

The choices for Abt’s new powertrain partner appear to be narrow now that Porsche negotiations have stopped.

Jaguar and Nissan are expected to be highly unlikely for similar technical and operational reasons to Porsche, as the manufacturers essentially do not want to stretch their resources. This is especially the case considering that this summer and autumn they will be dovetailing the present season with testing the new Gen3 Evo update kits.

While ERT is an option, it is the least likely of the whole crop of registered manufacturers, while Mahindra has been tried and disregarded already.

That leaves the DS Automobiles option which, although on paper should be considered unlikely as per Jaguar and Nissan, could be a ray of light for Abt.

The situation with the Maserati MSG team is currently complex as the MSG element of that operation is seeking to find additional investors immediately.

That has opened up rumour within the paddock that Stellantis could modify or juggle its structures for next season. What this may look like is unknown but DS essentially feeds Maserati MSG as a supplier, despite Maserati holding manufacturer status (although Maserati is not considered a separate entity for the new manufacturers’ trophy).

The two Stellantis brands could potentially encompass Abt Cupra within their framework, but quite what this could mean for the MSG element of the set-up remains to be seen in the case that any deal is stitched together with Abt.

What about a new manufacturer?

This is actually where the real intrigue presently lies because The Race has discovered that Abt Cupra has been in talks with an as-yet-unknown potential new manufacturer in recent weeks.

When asked earlier this month if new manufacturers could enter the all-electric championship from next season, Formula E CEO Jeff Dodds said “there are some conversations that we’re having right now [with new manufacturers]”.

“Some of the people wanting to look or to come into the championship are either a big brand that doesn’t have a powertrain, or it’s a motor manufacturer that doesn’t have the ability to put a racing team together,” added Dodds.

“There’s a number of options that we’ve been approached about. It could be that there’s a team that might be a really interesting partner for them [a new manufacturer].

“I would suspect that in the coming month or two there’ll probably be an announcement that will come out that’s about creating reassurance and securing teams for the future.”



Leave a Comment