Envision Virgin Racing boss Sylvain Filippi says that the team’s partner Audi’s departure from Formula E at the end of the present season will not overly affect its future.
Audi Sport announced yesterday that the 2021 Formula E campaign will be its last as it will reshuffle its motorsport programmes to focus on a Le Mans return and a Dakar Rally project from 2022 onwards.
Envision Virgin has a powertrain supply deal with Audi until the end of the 2021/22 season and has received assurance that it will continue to receive support through that time even though Audi’s works team will leave before then.
“It’s odd for us because it’s a big decision from their side but for us it does not affect thing too much really,” Filippi told The Race.
“Audi has been very clear straight away that they were intending to keep supporting us as a customer team.
“So it’s actually weirdly uneventful from where we are concerned.”
“As long as they support us [for 2021/22], and they said they will, then we are OK.
“I know this will be the case because Audi has been an exceptional partner to be involved with.”
Beyond the final season of Gen2 competition, which is due to be completed in the summer of 2022, Filippi said Envision Virgin is “open to what we do and where we will go next” in terms of potential future partnerships as a customer or finding a new factory partner.
The team has worked as a manufacturer’s representative before when it partnered with DS Automobiles between 2015 and 2018.
When DS completed a deal to switch to Techeetah for Gen2, what is now Envision Virgin became an Audi Sport customer instead.
The partnership with Audi has brought four victories in the last two seasons with Sam Bird taking wins at Santiago in 2018 and Riyadh last year, while Robin Frijns triumphed in Paris and New York in 2019.
This is compared to the factory Audi team taking just two Gen2 wins with Lucas di Grassi at Mexico City and Berlin in 2019.
Filippi says that Audi’s withdrawal does not hugely alter his planning for Gen3, which is set to ramp up in early 2021 because he says “Gen3 was always going to be a bit of a reset anyway.”
“We are free on what we do there,” he added.
“In other series being a customer team is clearly the least desirable option from a performance point of view.
“In Formula E, sure, there’s a downside, you don’t get anywhere near as much testing, but we’ve shown that you can still be very competitive, you can still have a valid business model.
“So this means you have many options.
“I will be delighted to work in a works team capacity but we can work too as a customer of a manufacturer as we have shown, so we are quite comfortable with the position we are in.”