Nick Devries, Stellantis, Mark Preston discussed on The Autosport Podcast
Nor Nick devries were required as part of their other motor sport commitments over the years. So we have a team coming in and with drivers around who not necessarily if you cut them would bleed McLaren. That issue we'll come back to later. But now let's talk about DS to cheetah. And when I say that, let's split that DS is the automobile name owned by Stellantis. If you want to call it the posh bit of Citroen, that would be okay as well. DS to cheetah to cheater being the team, double world champions, double team champions, three drivers titles to their names. But all wasn't rosy behind the scenes in terms of the structure and the money to get them on the grid. So if we go a little bit back to the start of the team, in the first two years of the formula E, the team was team a gory. It was almost a continuation of the super gooey Formula One team. But then ahead of the formula is third season. It was bought out by seka, who is a massive Chinese media company. And they rebranded the team to cheater. Mark Preston stayed in charge on our Boeing came on board. With customer Renault power trains, it was incredibly successful. DS came in at the start of season 5 as it's official supplier and it became a works team. DS divorcing with what was then known as virgin racing, which is now envisioned. They wanted something a little bit more flexible, something that they could have a little bit more autonomy over, but without running their own race team, let's say. And so the idea was move the team to the DS facilities in France in Versailles. It went very, very well, and vern won a title and to cost one the season 6 title. The shine started to come off because second wasn't willing to put as much money in as it had done at the start. It sort of like taken on this project. It had started building the team up into this title winning outfit. And I think it probably expected investors to come on board and want to be part of that title winning team, and they weren't really materializing. Again, yeah, the company behind it weren't willing to put money in. But it got to the point where the team's future was looking really, really ropey because there wasn't that money coming in. To a degree, DS had to intervene because it didn't want to be out of the competition because it had invested so heavily in its in its powertrain project and it still wanted to be involved in formula E ultimately it didn't want to own its own team. It didn't need the expense associated with that. But nonetheless, it was having to put all of these bills and pay driver salaries if that's if that's correct, which I believe it is. DS was having to front all of this money and it's not a situation that it wanted to be in. Otherwise it would have had if it did. It would have bought the team and run it itself, but that's not quite the way that it wants to go racing in formula E all right, well, hang on there. We'll take a quick break. When we come back, we'll talk about why it's been such a problem for Tata in the way that they ended up working with DS that has kind of left them out in the cold, actually. And why? The move for the world champion to go to the back of the grid team might not be such a bad thing after all. That's coming up stick around. All right, welcome back to the podcast. So the team almost operates with two quite distinct half then. So you have DS in terms of the manufacturer support and background working and operating with a certain culture and a certain way of developing, and then when you turn up at a race weekend, you then obviously have some of those members of DS will obviously have to be there to run the team, but then you have members of the Tata team actually getting on and running it on a race weekend. So it is a little bit like other forms of motor sport, but it seems perhaps slightly more separation of church and state than other forms. Is that correct? Are going to be the opposite to what the way that Nissan has gone. It is operated in that model of you have the manufacturer and you have E dams running the team and Nissan has gone well. We might as well just buy the team and run it ourselves. So they run both sides of it now, but I don't think that's the way that DS have wanted to do it. I'm not a 100% sure why I guess it's that added costs involved. But unfortunately, it was put in the position where it had to over the last couple of years. So Thomas, who was part of DS, he then came in to run the team as a team principal. James Ross, who was tied with Stellantis, and has now gone on to become Maserati's F one team principal. He was brought in this sporting director. So you could see this sort of like blurring of lines and I don't think it was a blurring that DS wanted to happen. Hence, the two parties have since split. And then the third act, if you like, or the third part of the piece of a jigsaw, is the alliance with dragon and Penske. And DS the manufacturer. Now, apart from a strong first two seasons. The team dragon is not a team that if you are the world champion, stoffel van Doorn, you're coming off the back of huge success, a slightly unfortunate end to a very prompt graduation into Formula One and then rebuilding in a career in a reputation and a champion in formula E now obviously still turning up at F one weekends and still available to jump in a car if needed. But at a real high point in his career, the last thing you think that would happen would he would then join the team, the dragon team, that scored two points in all of the season we've just gone. And yes, I did check my notes before coming on. Two points. In formula E why on earth? Are we talking about the literal back of the grid team? Forming a partnership with a big name like DS and then being able to go out and hire some great drivers and also great team members. So can you explain how that dynamic works with dragon and Penske? Even though dragon has massively underperformed, let's say, over the last few years, it's a team that has a sensible amount of backing and Jay Penske is sort of run it pretty much bankrolled the whole operation. You see some of his Penske media corporation brands on the car like Rolling Stone and those kinds of publications on the car. I think that's probably the main draw is the fact that the dragon Penske autosport is it likes to be known now. Can foot this bill and it can afford to run the team and it's not in the cheetah situation where DS is having to put money into running anything outside of its powertrain project, let's say. And although DS is able to put its own people into the team because it's got this proven pedigree of producing such strong powertrains and being one of the best teams in the last four years. The fact that van dorn and vern will be able to come into a team and have something that should deliver tangible success, which arguably has been dragon's weak link over the last few years because it's decided to go it alone with regards to powertrain production. And they've just not been very, very good. They've not been as efficiently designed as some of the others. You'll see drivers throughout the race. You'll see that the drag and drivers struggling in comparison for energy when those figures drop in the middle of a race. And the idea was for dragons for them to partner with Bosch for gen three and Bosch was going to produce the motors for them. And that fell through. So dragon needed a powertrain supplier because it wasn't going to develop its own for gen three, and DS needed a team. And it on free outset it just does seem like a kind of management marriage of convenience, but I think DS has the opportunity to kind of backseat drive it a little bit and put their own people in, but without necessarily having to foot the bill of running its own team. And of course, if we want to carry that on in terms of the marriage of convenience, but first DS and to cheetah have to get divorced and a bit like arguing who gets what in the DVD collection showing my age there in the major streaming. But unfortunately, it looks like to cheetah are the ones having to move out of the house because they were based at that DS and said, oh no, you move in with us. It's fine. We'll get along forever. Well, actually, to cheater than to have a place of their own, they were in DS, as you said, in their facility in their environment.