From Man Utd to Formula E: meet the boss of the all-electric racing series
The CEO of Formula E talks technology, Porsche and the future of motorsport
Since the introduction of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship in 2014, the all-electric series has become one of the most competitive racing environments from both sporting and technical perspectives. And few people have witnessed this rapid evolution more closely than CEO of Formula E Jamie Reigle.
Growing up in Montreal, Canada, Reigle was a competitive skier and sport of all kinds had a marked influence during those formative years. But his first forays into the working world saw him take a dramatically different path. “I had more of a traditional start to my career,” Reigle explains today, “as I started as an investment banker. I had more finance experience, and through that path I ended up at Manchester United. I have been very fortunate for the last 15 years to spend my career at the intersection of two of my passions: sports and business.”
With a proven head for figures and a love of sport, in September 2019 he was appointed as CEO of Formula E. But even his experiences in the world of top-flight football could not fully prepare him for the unfamiliar surroundings of cutting-edge single seater racing.
“Motorsport is very different in a couple of fundamental ways,” Reigle continues. “Most importantly motorsport has always had some link to the automotive industry and the end consumer.” Furthermore, Reigle saw a clear differentiation between Formula E and other racing series. “The core purpose of Formula E is addressing climate change through electric vehicles and using the power of sport to inspire consumers to take action.
Having the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team on board has been a significant help in raising the profile of Formula E for Reigle. “Porsche is a very premium brand with a track record in motorsport,” he says. “The DNA of the company is all about racing and all about success and having really high standards, and that’s fantastic for us as a championship as what it does it raises the bar, raises the standards for everyone.”
The enforced break from racing brought about by the coronavirus proved to be another major challenge, but the way the racing community reacted impressed Reigle, especially with the introduction of the ABB Formula E ‘Race at Home Challenge’. “The nice thing with Formula E,” he observes, “is the level of alignment and cooperation between teams, partners, the FIA and us, Formula E, is very high.”
A new challenge awaits Reigle now as the series returns for the season finale in Berlin, with six races on three different tracks across nine consecutive days. Safety, of course, is the priority in this unusual solution, but Formula E also wanted to commit to its original vision of having races in urban areas. And although there won’t be any fans on site, Reigle promises digital engagement, such has having virtual hospitality opportunities, so that fans can get behind the scenes through their own devices. Furthermore, a drive-in concept in Berlin will allow local fans to watch races from inside their own cars in a safe and socially distanced environment.
In such a rapidly changing world of motorsport, Reigle believes that traditional and electric disciplines can happily co-exist. “We believe in a continuation of a very long history in motorsport of innovation and progress. The beauty of motorsport is the pinnacle of human endeavour with these fantastic drivers, who are the best at what they do, and the engineering and science that goes into developing cars. The world is a very challenged place at the moment, there is no way to diminish that, but in the long-term human ingenuity and the positive energy will prevail. We are delighted that we can go back racing and build from there going into next season.”
You can hear the full interview with Jamie Reigle in the latest episode of “Inside E”, the Porsche Formula E podcast. Download it from Porsche Newsroom or Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.