Bentley evaluating FE, Hypercar after ending GT3 programme

Formula E and the Le Mans Hypercar division are two of the options under evaluation as Bentley plots its motorsport future after the end of its Continental GT3 programme.

Bentley evaluating FE, Hypercar after ending GT3 programme

The British manufacturer's racing boss, Paul Williams, stressed there was still an intent for the brand to be involved in motorsport on the announcement on Thursday of a staged withdrawal from the GT3 arena, starting with the end of its factory programme on this conclusion of the current season.

He revealed that the Volkswagen-owned marque is looking at multiple disciplines that might fit with the brand strategy revealed last month to become a carbon-neutral manufacturer producing only electric vehicles by 2030. 

"We have four or five things that we are actually looking at," said Williams. 

"I am not going to say which it is going to be because it is still very much an open discussion. 

"The options at the moment are very wide, but the principle is that we want to do motorsport in the future.

"It has been sustainable: we have to do something that ties into where the brand wants to go."

Bentley is involved in multiple working groups at the FIA, Williams confirmed.

"I am not going to say which ones we are on, but we are involved in more than one thing at the moment, keeping options open" he said.

"We have engaged very closely in a number of different forms of future-type racing." 

He did confirm, however, that Bentley is involved in the discussions regarding the FIA's drive to create an electric GT series.

Asked if Formula E, which will introduce the new Gen3 car for its 2022/23 season, was one of them, Williams replied: "It's obviously a consideration."

He also admitted that the new Extreme E off-road series that comes on stream in 2021 is another option for a brand that entered the SUV market with the Bentayga model launched in 2015. 

"In the first things we looked at, it wasn't on the listing, but it has more recently moved onto the list as something that we could be interested in," he explained. 

"I have someone looking at that as an option — it is a fascinating format."

Williams revealed that Bentley's new focus on electrification has not stifled the marque's ambitions to return to the Le Mans 24 Hours, in which the last of its six victories came in 2003 with Speed 8 LMGTP coupe. 

He admitted that there was interest in the LMH category that comes on stream next year, LMDh which could arrive as early as the year after, and the new category planned for hydrogen fuel-cell cars in 2024. 

"We will continue to sell combustion cars for the next few years and we are pushing very strongly on our hybrid technology, [so] I am not discounting hybrid or various other forms of motorsport," explained Williams

He described the new class for hydrogen cars as "one of the things I am particularly interested in". 

"People talk about it as hydrogen, but it is fuel cell/electric, so it is a from of electric endurance racing," he said 

"It is definitely on my list of things that are interestng and, of course, as a brand we love the Le Mans principle."

Asked about Bentley's relative interest in the three routes available to try to win the French enduro in the future, Williams replied: "I would probably say electric-hydrogen would be the highest, and LM Hypercar second and LMDh third."

He described the spec hybrid system of the LMP2-based LMDh category as "quite a weak answer" and revealed that "if it was a much stronger hybrid proposition, we would probably be far more inclined to go that way".

He also mentioned the "massive cost differential between doing an LM Hypercar and doing an LMDh" and said that "for a brand our size that makes it [LMH] very challenging".

Williams set no timetable for Bentley's return to motorsport after its GT3 programme winds down nor for a decision on what direction it will take. 

#7 Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3: Jules Gounon, Maxime Soulet, Jordan Pepper

#7 Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3: Jules Gounon, Maxime Soulet, Jordan Pepper

Photo by: Bentley

shares
comments

Related video

Why BMW and Audi have pulled the plug on Formula E
Previous article

Why BMW and Audi have pulled the plug on Formula E

Next article

Porsche reaffirms Formula E commitment after Audi, BMW exit

Porsche reaffirms Formula E commitment after Audi, BMW exit
Load comments
How Mercedes's Formula E squad replicated the F1 team's best trait Prime

How Mercedes's Formula E squad replicated the F1 team's best trait

With its ultra-successful sister team in Formula 1 and a support network providing some of the best minds and resources in the business, Mercedes Formula E team principal Ian James knew his squad had all the winning ingredients. But mixing it together was no easy feat and required key attributes to be grown from within

How Formula E's polarising newcomer Ticktum can prove himself Prime

How Formula E's polarising newcomer Ticktum can prove himself

OPINION: Few figures in racing today divide opinion like Dan Ticktum. The Formula 2 race winner now has the chance to wipe his professional slate clean with his move into Formula E, but it won't be easy at the squad which has brought up the rear for the past three years. Here are the three key criteria he must meet to make a lasting impression on the series.

Formula E
Nov 27, 2021
How Mercedes pulled off a silent coup in Formula E Prime

How Mercedes pulled off a silent coup in Formula E

By virtue of its Formula 1 success, Mercedes was expected to rise to power in Formula E before long. That it won both the drivers' and manufacturers' championships this year, after only two seasons as a full works effort, belies a tricky path littered with potential pitfalls

Formula E
Nov 26, 2021
Why electric racing cars should be four-wheel drive Prime

Why electric racing cars should be four-wheel drive

OPINION: Circuit racing has traditionally favoured front- or rear-wheel-drive setups, eschewing the equal distribution of power. But for Formula E and other electric-powered series, our columnist believes it’s a perfect fit.

Formula E
Oct 13, 2021
How motorsport's most prominent power couple found joint success Prime

How motorsport's most prominent power couple found joint success

The Wolffs have carved their own paths in motorsport, leading their respective teams to success in Formula 1 and Formula E. But the two came together last month as their drivers finished first and second in the FE drivers' championship - a feat they are hugely proud of. In a rare joint interview, they reflect on a remarkable season

Formula E
Sep 21, 2021
The top 10 Formula E drivers of 2020-21 Prime

The top 10 Formula E drivers of 2020-21

OPINION: The 2021 Formula E campaign was one without a narrative for much of the season, with no single car or driver able to break away from the pack. That makes choosing a top 10 especially difficult, particularly as the qualifying format meant some worthy performers were unable to enjoy their day in the sun.

Formula E
Sep 19, 2021
How Mercedes and de Vries achieved Formula E glory the hard way Prime

How Mercedes and de Vries achieved Formula E glory the hard way

When Nyck de Vries dominated the first race of what would be the most controversial and unpredictable Formula E season to date, it looked as though Mercedes was in for a cakewalk. But as the campaign wore on, the path to a title double became increasingly rocky. Neither driver or team would be assured of the crown until the closing stages of the very final race on a weekend of struggle in Berlin.

Formula E
Sep 17, 2021
The Formula E 'loan' deal that will keep di Grassi winning Prime

The Formula E 'loan' deal that will keep di Grassi winning

OPINION: The departure of Audi from Formula E meant its long-time driver Lucas di Grassi would need to find a new berth to stay on the grid. His deal at Venturi Racing will ensure the championship's first-ever race winner will remain competitive into the final year of the current Gen2 ruleset - although it may not be a long-term fit

Formula E
Sep 15, 2021