"Sceptical" McNish turned down FE drive after retirement

Audi Formula E team principal Allan McNish says he was offered a drive in the series but turned it down after he retired from sportscars, partly due to his scepticism of the series.

"Sceptical" McNish turned down FE drive after retirement

Prior to the first season of the championship in 2014, FE organisers created a pool of high-profile drivers to build attention – similar to the method currently taken by Extreme E.

Three-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner McNish was approached by FE to contest the inaugural season, despite having retired from racing at the end of 2013 after winning the FIA World Endurance Championship title with co-drivers Tom Kristensen and Loic Duval.

McNish said that as well as stepping down from racing, he had rejected the FE offer owing to reservations about the series and its short-term future.

He said: “When I retired from racing in 2013, I was asked if I was interested in driving in Formula E. Apart from the fact that I had made my decision, I was sceptical, because I have seen a lot of new championships come and go.

“But, what I hadn’t seen [then] was the dynamic and start-up mentality that these Formula E guys had.”

McNish has a long-term relationship with Audi – having first raced for the manufacturer in 2000 when he won the American Le Mans Series title alongside Rinaldo Capello.

He has been team principal of its FE concern since the marque completed the takeover of the affiliated Abt outfit prior to the 2017-18 season.

Motorsport.com understands that the FE approach was not linked to McNish driving for Abt, which has retained drivers Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt since the first FE race in Beijing.

Rockenfeller "underestimated" Formula E

#63 Corvette Racing, Chevrolet Corvette C8.R Mike Rockenfeller

#63 Corvette Racing, Chevrolet Corvette C8.R Mike Rockenfeller

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

McNish's former Audi LMP1 stablemate Mike Rockenfeller said he also had reservations about Formula E during its formative years, but he now believes the all-electric series is "the best place to be" outside Formula 1.

The German driver has been racing with Audi in the DTM since 2007 and believes he could have had a seat in Formula E if he had "pushed a bit into that direction." 

“Obviously Formula E, I maybe underestimated it a bit,” Rockenfeller told Motorsport.com. “I think still… I don’t really like it, to be honest. 

“But to make money, it’s the best place to be, except Formula 1. All the manufacturers are there, they are spending good money on it, they are paying good salaries. 

“I missed that in a way, but I was never really into it, I never believed so much in this formula. So I’m more old school there, maybe.”

"Maybe I had if I would have pushed a bit into that direction or talked [I could have got a seat in Formula E]. But there were never really deep talks. 

“Honestly I was always focusing on other stuff rather than Formula E. What I meant is as a young kid. Now a young driver, if you have the chance, that’s the place to be now. 

“Maybe in five years or four years or three years, there is a different thing. Maybe then it’s LMDh. who knows. We’ll see. Super difficult, the landscape is changing. Who knows?”

shares
comments
What does an operation like Porsche do during lockdown?

Previous article

What does an operation like Porsche do during lockdown?

Next article

Legendary race broadcaster Varsha struck by coronavirus

Legendary race broadcaster Varsha struck by coronavirus
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula E
Author Matt Kew
Why Formula E's Valencia fiasco undermines engineering talent Prime

Why Formula E's Valencia fiasco undermines engineering talent

FIA president Jean Todt wanted more Formula E coverage in the media, and got his wish when the opening Valencia E-Prix proved farcical. Despite attempts to spin the race as teams failing to get their sums right, Formula E and its governing body cannot escape blame - especially when trying to get teams to commit long-term.

Formula E
Apr 27, 2021
How Valencia E-Prix farce gave Formula E an image problem Prime

How Valencia E-Prix farce gave Formula E an image problem

Formula E was under the microscope at Valencia, on its first visit to a permanent circuit. But after a mere nine drivers were left classified following Saturday's Valencia E-Prix, the electric championship once more faced criticism after rising energy deductions and miscalculations produced a farcical affair.

Formula E
Apr 25, 2021
How Vergne and Vandoorne found redemption in Rome Prime

How Vergne and Vandoorne found redemption in Rome

Another Formula E double-header, another double dose of frantic action. While the form guide remains unpredictable following fightback wins for Jean-Eric Vergne and Stoffel Vandoorne in Rome, the speed and consistency of Mercedes – both on and off the track – could have its rivals worried for what is to follow

Formula E
Apr 12, 2021
What Nissan's commitment to Gen3 reveals about Formula E's future Prime

What Nissan's commitment to Gen3 reveals about Formula E's future

Formula E's Gen3 era grid continues to take shape, after Nissan opted to commit to the series for another four years. Nissan's global chief operating officer explains why it has thrown its lot in with FE while other high-profile marques have decided to call it quits.

Formula E
Mar 24, 2021
Why the new Formula E season got off to such a controversial start Prime

Why the new Formula E season got off to such a controversial start

With the new Formula E season belatedly getting underway in Saudi Arabia, the championship appeared to try to make up for lost time with an overspill of action and controversy on and off the track. While some talking points could have serious repercussions, it was an explosive opener for many reasons.

Formula E
Mar 1, 2021
The eight major plotlines to watch in Formula E 2021 Prime

The eight major plotlines to watch in Formula E 2021

The delayed 2020-21 Formula E season gets underway this week with a double-header in Saudi Arabia. The testing times were too close to call a favourite, but that's not the only area of interest to follow as the championship enters a crucial year

Formula E
Feb 25, 2021
Why Formula E's 2021 season will be a crucial litmus test Prime

Why Formula E's 2021 season will be a crucial litmus test

As off-track politics threatens to overshadow events on it, the upcoming Formula E season is perhaps its most important since the championship's inception. And that's a shame, given that the focus should be on what promises to be its closest title fight yet.

Formula E
Feb 24, 2021
How Mercedes and Porsche can avoid a difficult second FE album Prime

How Mercedes and Porsche can avoid a difficult second FE album

Mercedes and Porsche compete to win and have done so across the board: in Formula 1, sportscars, the Dakar Rally and endurance road races - even working together to break land speed records. Next in the crosshairs is the Formula E teams' championship crown.

Formula E
Feb 17, 2021