- Gil de Ferran, a two-time IndyCar national champion and Indianapolis 500 winner, has been named ambassador for Formula E, effectively becoming the face of the new electric car championship.
- The 45-year-old Brazilian will act as an advisor and focus on "further enhancing the race format," organizers said in a statement.
- The groundbreaking electric-car racing series is scheduled to launch in late 2014.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida — Gil de Ferran, a two-time IndyCar national champion and Indianapolis 500 winner, has been named ambassador for Formula E, effectively becoming the face of the new electric car championship.
The announcement about de Ferran is another example of racing champions lending their names and reputations to companies and new endeavors. Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel, for example, was tapped recently to serve as Infiniti's director of performance, with a focus on influencing product development.
The 45-year-old de Ferran will act as an advisor to Formula E and focus on "further enhancing the race format," organizers said in a statement.
The groundbreaking electric-car racing series is scheduled to launch in late 2014.
De Ferran retired from driving in 2009 after a successful stint in sports cars. The Paris-born Brazilian national brings more than just championship-level driving experience to his new duties, having served in advisory and team leadership roles in IndyCar, Formula 1 and the American Le Mans sports car series.
De Ferran praised the effort to develop the new series.
"Electric vehicles are undoubtedly playing an increasing role in the transportation landscape worldwide and as such, electric car racing will provide the perfect platform to help accelerate the development of relevant technologies and showcase the potential in an exciting way," said de Ferran in a statement.
De Ferran had his greatest racing success with Penske Racing, claiming the CART Champ Car title in 2000 and 2001. After the Penske team switched to the rival IndyCar series, de Ferran finished 3rd and 2nd in 2002 and 2003, winning three races, including the Indianapolis classic, in his final season as an open-wheel driver.
De Ferran rose from kart racing in Brazil to Formula Ford and Formula 3 racing in England and then to the international Formula 3000 series in Europe. Driving for Paul Stewart Racing, he won seven races en route to the championship in 1992.
He had test drives with the Footwork Arrows Formula 1 team and the CART team owned by former driver Jim Hall and ended up moving to America to race in the U.S. series in 1995. He got the first of seven CART victories in the season finale of his rookie season.
De Ferran served as sporting director for the BAR-Honda F1 team, and then returned to driving in an Acura ARX prototype in the American Le Mans Series in 2008-'09. Under de Ferran's leadership as director, the De Ferran Motorsports team won five races and finished 2nd in the LMP1 championship.
The team fielded an entry in IndyCar for one season and de Ferran was a member of the committee that came up with the concept for the present-day IndyCar chassis and engine.
Edmunds says: Add another asset to the growing Formula E portfolio. De Ferran, nicknamed "The Professor," is highly regarded for his driving, technical and managerial skills and has remained active as an advisor and television commentator.