Formula E

Fernando Alonso teases Nascar switch with Jimmie Johnson but Formula E are ‘going after him’ with Gen2 car

E-prix chief Alejandro Agag believes more powerful car could help sway the departing two-time F1 champion to join all-electric racing series in 2019

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 September, 2018, 4:03pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 September, 2018, 4:31pm

Formula E is hopeful of enticing Fernando Alonso to join the all-electric racing series in 2019 following his retirement from Formula One.

Alejandro Agag, founder and CEO of Formula E, seemed confident of pulling off what would be a major coup of attracting the two-time Formula One champion in an interview with the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong this week.

“I’ve been speaking with Fernando. Actually, I was with him in Monza [for F1’s Italian Grand Prix],” said Agag, who was in town to promote the return of Formula E to mainland China in Sanya next March, which takes place two weeks after the Hong Kong E-Prix.

“I think he’s going to America this season, but definitely for the season after we are going after him.”

Formula E returns on December 15 with Season Five kicking off in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia featuring the new Gen2 car which can run a full race on one battery charge, meaning mid-race vehicle switches will no longer be required.

Formula E heads to Hainan: Sanya to host season five race following Hong Kong E-Prix

“I speak with Fernando a lot, he likes Formula E a lot,” Agag said. “He’s very car-focused, Fernando. He’s very curious about the new car that we are starting in Season Five.

“He wants to know more about that car and he think it looks very cool. Fernando is all about the car.”

Mercedes driver Alonso recently announced he is retiring from Formula One at the end of the 2018 season, and he is expected to race the Indianopolis 500 again next May.

The 37-year-old is aiming to complete motorsport’s “Triple Crown”, having already claimed the Monaco Grand Prix and the Le Mans 24 hour race, which he sensationally won on his debut in June with Toyota.

He also fuelled speculation on Wednesday that he could also try his hand at Nascar with a cryptic tweet addressed to seven-time Nascar Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.

Adding Alonso would bring significant exposure for Formula E, who will welcome ex-F1 world championship runner-up Felipe Massa on the grid this season with the Venturi team.

“Massa is a great driver,” Agag said. “He’s a great friend, he’s a really cool personality, and he has a big following all around the world.

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“For him to drive in Formula E, it’s great for the championship. We have a great line-up of drivers, second only to Formula One. Apart from that we are probably the best in the world.

“More drivers are doing fully Formula E, because of the growth – there are bigger budgets to pay the salaries so the drivers are exclusive. Formula E is becoming the priority.”

According to Agag, Season Four saw a huge increase in interest for Formula E, with 580 overall million video views on its social media channels – up over 1,000 per cent from 50 million views for Season Three.

“We want to go over a billion views for Season Five – we need to keep growing the reach of Formula E and get more fans,” Agag said. “The championship is great, the technology is making huge steps, we’ve done all the things in the right order.

“I think as Formula E grows, everyone is paying more attention. Everyone thought this was going to be a short term venture, now it’s really consolidated as a worldwide championship with all these big brands and car manufacturers.

“There was huge progress last season. We are far beyond our expectations. We signed a title sponsor, ABB, and announced a deal with Mercedes and Porsche, who left other championships to join Formula E. We have next year Nissan and BMW starting to race with teams.

“This championship is becoming huge. This grid, there’s going to be a lot of power, not just in terms of electric.”