Ferrari Hints Again About Joining Formula E

Sergio Marchionne also says he'd like to see Alfa Romeo back in F1.

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat SpA, speaks during an interview at the Italian auto maker's joint venture plant with Guangzhou Automobile Corp (GAC) in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan province, Thursday June 28, 2012. Fiat-Chrysler APAC announced the start of production of the Fiat Viaggio at the GAC-Fiat’s joint venture facility in China. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT
AP/LaPresse—AP/LaPresse

Late last year, Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne told investors that the jump into Formula E was possible. Now, several months later, Ferrari is still talking about it in a way that makes the move seem more inevitable than possible. In speaking with the FIA publication Auto, Marchionne also mentions Alfa Romeo and Formula 1 in the same sentence. All of these things, taken together, lead to some interesting questions.

When asked about a possible Formula E entry, Marchionne said "But I have two things in mind. The first is that we need to be involved in Formula E because electrification via hybridisation is going to be part of our future. The second is to see Alfa Romeo back racing in Formula One again someday, because I believe very strongly it’s a place the brand should be. At this stage, I don’t know how likely it is that either of those two things will happen. But the fact that we are talking about them is a good sign in itself." 

Earlier in the interview, Marchionne also said "We have already developed a hybrid supercar, La Ferrari, and on future Ferrari models we will leverage new technologies as well as electrification" when asked about Ferrari hybrids and the future of them. 

Marchionne is right. Ferrari does need to be in Formula E. Like it or not, electric road cars and electric automobile racing is the future. Those that don't get in on the ground floor will go no further. Renault, Audi, Jaguar and now BMW have all bought in to Formula E. In 2018, McLaren will be the sole battery supplier for the sport. All of these auto makers will be using Formula E to develop the technology and promote their own electric road cars. Ferrari can't afford to not be here. However, Ferrari does things the way Ferrari does them. They'll join the series when they think it's the best time and in their best interest to do so. In reality, that might not be the best time. But hey, things have worked out pretty good for Ferrari so far, so they'll just keep on keeping on. Ferrari is as Ferrari does.

As far as Alfa Romeo getting back in to Formula 1, that is where things get interesting. Would Alfa design and build it's own car and engine as a completely separate team? Could Alfa be a "factory junior" team to Ferrari? Does Ferrari, Alfa, and FCA have the budget to fund a second Formula 1 team? 

With the love and passion that Marchionne has for the Alfa Romeo brand, I can't see him allowing Alfa to be nothing short of a fully funded, competitive constructor. But there is another option to running two teams from the same house. A joint Ferrari-Alfa Romeo squad. Ferrari could be in charge of the power unit, gear box, and the other mechanical parts. Alfa Romeo could design the the car itself. This gets Alfa back in F1 in a major way, Ferrari can remain an engine supplier for customer teams, and the bottom line at FCA doesn't take such a hit with Ferrari joining Formula E. 

Hmmm...