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The ambassador's reception - Gil de Ferran confirmed as a spokesperson for Formula E

Published by Christine

The new Formula E championship recently announced Champ Car champion Gil de Ferran as an Official Ambassador. It’s not always clear what the role of an ambassador demands, beyond attaching their good name to a sport to give it just that little bit extra credibility. In this case, as if we weren’t excited enough for the electric championship to get underway, the addition of de Ferran has done exactly what it was supposed to.

Gil de Ferran, Honda Dreamfields, Silverstone 2008
Credit: Sidepodcast

We have long been fans of Gil here at Sidepodcast, after joining his team for the 2008 Honda Pub Quiz during the Silverstone GP weekend. We didn’t win, but he was so much fun it didn't matter.

De Ferran has spent much time in motorsport, trying his hand at F1, Le Mans and IndyCar, winning the Indianapolis 500 in 2003. He is a solid name to attach to a new endeavour, and he’s excited about the coming evolution.

“Electric vehicles are undoubtedly playing an increasing role in the transportation landscape worldwide and as such, electric car racing will provide the perfect platform to help accelerate the development of relevant technologies and showcase the potential in an exciting way.”

De Ferran certainly talks the talk, something Formula E is in need of as they face ongoing scepticism about the viability of a racing championship based solely on electric cars. There are still unanswered questions about the finer details of how the racing will take place, but it’s the kind of revolutionary technology that, with the help of the competition of motorsport, can change and evolve rapidly.

One thing about the Formula E championship we do know for certain is that it will take place over the winter, with the first season set to span the months September 2014 to June 2015. Organisers have put a maximum limit of twelve races on the calendar, with confirmed cities in Brazil, Italy, the US, Thailand, Germany, Malaysia, Argentina and Great Britain.

Andretti join the previously announced Drayson and China teams

Along with the respectability that comes from adding Gil de Ferran to your list of ambassadors, the confirmation of participating teams is further boost to Formula E’s reputation. Last month, IndyCar veterans Andretti Autosport were confirmed as the third team to sign up to the eco-friendly championship. Andretti join the previously announced Drayson and China teams.

Michael Andretti was keen to be one of the founding ten, particularly as it’s such a new and untested sport. He said: “It’s an honour for Andretti Autosport to have been selected as one of the 10 teams. I look forward to further exploring the series and helping build the future of open-wheel racing across the world.”

It’s a grand claim to try and challenge the existing motorsport fraternity for future dominance, but all the signs from Formula E so far have been positive and pro-active. I can’t pretend to be an expert on electric vehicles, and I don’t fully grasp how they’re going to make them race, but despite that, we're hearing the right things from the organisers and those ready and willing to try something new.

It is impressive that established names are attaching themselves to this, instead of sitting back in skeptical risk-averse comfort, hoping the past will hold all the answers instead.