“As an engineer, Roger Griffiths is a motorsport veteran. He has developed race cars and engines for over 25 years, working in Formula 1, BTCC, American Le Mans Series, Rally Cross, and IndyCar. Having been involved in Formula E from Season 1, he has become a vocal ambassador not only for the first fully electric championship, but also for the BMWi Andretti Motorsport Formula E team, that he leads as Team Principal. Our author Lena Siep spoke to Roger Griffiths ahead of the 2019 Bern E-Prix.
When BMW entered Formula E with an official works team in 2018, you were appointed Team Principal. What does your new role entail?
As Team Principal, I focus on opera- tional as well as competition aspects and the liaison with the external par- ties, Formula E, and the FIA. I tend not to be involved as much in engineering and the supply base of the powertrain anymore. Instead, I act as a brand am- bassador for BMW. I’m the face of the team, whether it is TV, media, guests, or partners. I also try and connect the race programme to the road car pro- gramme. It’s a broad role. I am an en- gineer, after all, so this ambassador- ship is a new role for me but I find it very interesting. I like the relationship I have with the sanctioning body, the FIA, and Formula E. I guess I’m also the connection to the other race teams, our competitors. It’s an important link, because apart from fighting each oth- er on track, we also have an interest in bringing the championship forward to- gether and making the sport sustain- able in the long term. That’s why we need to work together.
Would you say your new role is rather political?
It’s a little more political than my role as an engineer, but I generally don’t use the word politics within motor racing. Politics end up coming up, how- ever I don’t like to say it’s a political role since it gives the wrong impres- sion. I’m involved in policy making, yes. I’ve been fortunate to lead the Formula E team’s association as Chairman for two seasons in 2016 and 2017. I sit on sporting working groups involved in the development of the regulations, not necessarily the technical regula- tions, but the rules by which we go rac- ing, i.e. how we play the game. I find that quite fascinating to look at what is going to make exciting competition.
Do you talk to the FIA about the requirements of BMW as a manufacturer in particular or do you try to steer regulations and rules in a way that they suit manufacturers more than they do now?
I obviously understand what BMW’s position is. But I also try and think about what ultimately is best. Creating exciting racing, creating fan engage- ment, showcasing technology – these are all the things that are going to at- tract BMW to want to become and re- main a part of Formula E. So I’m not going to say “we need to change this and write that into the regulations so that it suits BMW”, because BMW may decide to do something in a slightly dif- ferent way tomorrow and I don’t want to create a regulation that’s for a specific snapshot in time. I want to create a regulation that will help grow the championship, that will boost TV figures, that’ll get people excit- ed about racing and hopefully all of those things tick boxes for BMW as well. You have to wear two different hats and I always try to look at the big picture.