Officially, the once-independent specialty automaker Maserati pulled out of global motorsports at least as far as a works team went, after the spectator tragedy at the Mille Miglia in 1957 that also spelled death for the iconic open-road race around Italy. As the Maserati photo shows, 1957 was nonetheless one of the Trident’s greatest years in racing, as the immortal Juan Manuel Fangio captured the last of his five Formula 1 championships aboard a Maserati 250F monoposto, also scoring the last of his 24 wins at the sport’s pinnacle that same season. Maserati S.p.A. has undergone periods of ownership by the Orsi family, Citroen, de Tomaso and Fiat before becoming part of an operating unit, with Alfa Romeo, that’s owned by today’s Chrysler-encompassing conglomerate, Stellantis. It’s this new generation of ownership that plans an atypical Maserati return to racing.
Only this time, the racing won’t involve the shriek of a multi-cam V-8. Maserati will instead revive its competitive spirit by entering the 2023 edition of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, contested among open-wheel EVs. So yes, it’s a global competition among whirring, emissions-free racing cars. Not everybody considers it to be a traditional or, dare we repeat it, a legitimate form of automobile racing. To the doubters, we say this: Formula E has a full international schedule that includes street races through both London and Manhattan. The lineup of teams includes entries from Dragon/Penske and Andretti Autosport – with Andretti IndyCar prospect Oliver Askew as one of its drivers – plus factory teams from major producers including Mercedes-Benz, Porsche/TAGHeuer, Mahindra, Volkswagen and Jaguar. So don’t laugh, and recognize the fact that at least in this branch of racing, teams are jumping in, not scaling back.