Key figures in Formula E’s most successful team Techeetah are confident they are forming a package to enable it to continue in the championship into the Gen3 era in 2023 after its split with manufacturer partner DS.
Techeetah will become dissociated from the DS Automobiles company this August because DS has chosen to partner with the Penske Dragon team for the new rules period covering 2023-26.
Although it has not been officially confirmed as yet, The Race reported in April that the deal between DS and Dragon Penske was completed earlier this year and that Jean-Eric Vergne and Stoffel Vandoorne are set to be announced as drivers for the new alliance.
This has left the existing Techeetah team looking for a powertrain, premises and most importantly of all new investment to be able to stay in the championship which it first joined as a customer team via Renault power in 2016.
Its ownership, through the Chinese sports marketing company, SECA, has been a cause of debate in the paddock since 2019 when it was clear that further investment was needed.
This was almost captured last summer but the promised investment, as reported by The Race, never materialised.
This triggered a restructuring of how the team was run with DS’ Thomas Chevaucher taking over team principal responsibilities before he and the DS management team agreed terms with Jay Penske in January for Gen3.
Now, Techeetah’s chief commercial officer Keith Smout and managing director Mark Preston are believed to be close to a stabilisation package with fresh investors which would secure their team’s standing on the grid.
Should it do so it would mean a full 24-car grid would line up for the first Gen3 Formula E race – which is expected to take place at Mexico City next January – given the return of the Abt team to take the currently vacant space.
Smout and Preston have been instrumental in keeping Techeetah’s future alive, holding a succession of meetings with potential investors and possible future manufacturers for technical support in recent months.
According to Smout those efforts are close to bearing fruit with the team forging ahead with plans to continue in Formula E with fresh investment and ownership.
“It has been a very tough 2022 so far but we are seeing some real traction now in getting a package together to be able to race in 2023,” Smout told The Race this week.
“Mark and I owe it to the ethos of the team, our ownership and everything they have invested in and achieved in Formula E since 2016.
“We know we have thousands of fans and enthusiasts out there that are willing us on, so we are determined to stay on the grid.”
Smout, although not elaborating on details of potential new partners, did say that he was hopeful that elements of the deals to take Techeetah into Gen3 would “emerge soon” and that he was “as confident as I have been since the start of 2022 that the team will survive”.
Techeetah’s options for powertrain usage are currently believed to be reasonably narrow but Smout indicated that he has “confidence we have a strong package agreed” for a customer deal.
The team is known to be looking at the possibility of taking over the present Dragon Penske base in Silverstone, as that existing business will be blended into the DS facility in Paris later this year.
It will have to employ two new drivers for 2023, with Vergne’s move to DS Penske and the soon to be confirmed signing of Antonio Felix da Costa by Porsche.
Several drivers already on the grid are known to going into the Gen3 era as free agents including Oliver Turvey and Sergio Sette Camara, while reserve drivers Norman Nato and Jake Hughes are also aiming for race seats in 2023.