Mercedes has officially confirmed its exit from Formula E after the coming season. The decision had been taken as part of a strategic realignment of resource allocation for the development of electric vehicles.
Already during the last race weekend of season 7 in Berlin, where Mercedes-EQ driver Nyck de Vries secured the drivers’ title and Mercedes-EQ was crowned team world champion thanks to Stoffel Vandoorne’s podium finish – it had been leaked in advance that the Stuttgart-based manufacturer’s works team would probably withdraw.
Daimler has now announced that Mercedes-Benz will end its involvement with the “Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team” at the end of season 8. This means that the team is withdrawing after three seasons: in season 5, the “HWA Racelab” team formed the vanguard and gained initial experience in the electric racing series before Mercedes-EQ took over as the works team in season 6.
Mercedes-Benz justifies its withdrawal from Formula E with its focus, announced at the end of July, on becoming fully electric in road vehicles before the end of the decade – where market conditions permit. As part of the new strategic direction, the brand has “consciously decided to reallocate resources in favour of this faster ramp-up of electrification”. Previous expertise and resources from Formula E powertrain development will now be channelled into the development of the three new electric architectures that Mercedes plans to introduce in 2025.
“At Mercedes-Benz, we have committed ourselves to fighting climate change at full force in this decade. This demands the accelerated transformation of our company, products and services towards an emission-free and software-driven future, and to achieve this, we must give full focus to our core activities,” says Daimler and Mercedes board member Markus Schäfer.
Development board member Schäfer does not say it directly, but between the lines it becomes clear that Mercedes is not entirely satisfied with the technology transfer from Formula E to the road cars: Audi and BMW had similarly justified their exits at the end of the now completed Season 7. Literally, Schäfer said: “In motorsport, Formula E has been a good driver for proving our expertise and establishing our Mercedes-EQ brand, but in future we will keep pushing technological progress – especially on the electric drive side – focusing on Formula One.” The fact that the Stuttgart-based company expects more from the electric development of Formula 1 hybrid drives than from the know-how from Formula E speaks volumes.
But marketing considerations apparently also play a role: like Schäfer, Bettina Fetzer, head of marketing at Mercedes-Benz AG, praises the impact of Formula E on the Mercedes-EQ brand. But: “On a strategic level, however, Mercedes-AMG will be positioned and strengthened as our performance brand through its close alignment to our record-breaking Formula One team, and F1 will be our company’s works motorsport focus for the years ahead,” says Fetzer.
“We entered Formula E with an open mind about the series and its innovative approach to motorsport. A lot of hard work went into building the team and making it competitive – and we have seen an incredible group of talented women and men deliver at the highest level,” said Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff, who is also managing director of the Formula E team. “We will be giving everything to make sure that we finish our Formula E adventure in style in Season 8.”
However, the team itself could remain in Formula E for Season 9: Team boss Ian James says they are “looking at the best options for the team to continue to participate in Formula E beyond Season 8”, including a potential sale to new owners.
Two rumours are persisting at the moment, both to do with managing director Toto Wolff: Firstly, the Monaco-based Mercedes-EQ customer team Venturi is rumoured to be interested; team boss of Venturi Racing is former racing driver Susie Wolff – Toto’s wife. But according to rumours, Aston Martin could also be interested. Toto Wolff is privately invested in Aston Martin.
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