Mercedes have today confirmed that they will be entering the 2019/2020 Formula E World Championship as a works entry, finally ending months of speculation since the first talks were confirmed between the manufacturer and the championship. The group also confirmed today that they would be pulling out of the DTM series at the end of 2018 to focus on its entries in Formula One and Formula E.
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff made the announcement today, as he acknowledged that leaving DTM was “tough for all of us” before outlining the reasons for departure in favour of the “exciting” and “innovative” all-electric Formula E championship.
“In motorsport like in every other area, we want to be the benchmark in the premium segment and to explore innovative new projects. The combination of Formula 1 and Formula E delivers that,” he said, “Formula E is like an exciting start-up venture: it offers a brand new format, combining racing with a strong event character, in order to promote current and future technologies.
“Electrification is happening in the road car world and Formula E offers manufacturers an interesting platform to bring this technology to a new audience – and to do so with a completely new kind of racing, different to any other series.”
It was announced a few months ago that a deal had been signed for Mercedes to join Formula E for the 2018/2019 calendar. However, the manufacturer will postpone this decision by one year to join in 2019/2020 so that they can make necessary preparations before they compete.
Part of these preparations includes the unfortunate sacrifice of the Mercedes DTM programme. Since the championship was revitalised seventeen years ago, Mercedes have been present and successful. Nine constructors’ championships have been taken by Mercedes in that time, with seven drivers taking their championships in Mercedes entries; the most recent of which being current F1-driver Pascal Wehrlein in 2015.
“Our years in the DTM will always be held high as a major chapter in the motorsport history of Mercedes,” said Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff, “I want to thank every team member whose fantastic work has helped to make Mercedes-Benz the most successful DTM manufacturer during that time.
“Although leaving is tough for all of us, we will be doing everything during this season and next to make sure we win as many DTM titles as possible before we go. We owe that to our fans and to ourselves.”
HWA, a spin-off of the Mercedes AMG branch, currently oversee the Mercedes DTM programme and run all six entries in the championship. It is believed that HWA will take the reigns of the Mercedes Formula E entry and could enter the series a year early in a partnership with the Venturi team to get to grips with the series and the technology.
It seems no surprise at all that Mercedes has joined the Formula E championship. Since the championship’s debut in 2014/2015, the series has gone from strength to strength by offering exciting and accessible racing that is relevant to the interests of the global automotive industry.
With electric vehicles becoming more and more commonplace, with sales up 45% over the last year, manufacturers all over the world are having to invest into the technology. Mercedes are no different, with the German marque unveiling their product brand for electric vehicles, EQ, at the Paris Motor Show with a concept car earlier this year. With the company obviously heading into the electric market, their entry into Formula E gives them a chance to research, develop and test electric powertrains before installing them into vehicles for consumers.
This opportunity to test and refine electric technology is one of the key values and interests of the Formula E championship, as series CEO Alejandro Agag alluded to when he welcomed Mercedes in a statement.
“Today is a great day as we welcome Mercedes to the Formula E family – adding to the increasing number of manufacturers joining the electric revolution,” Agag said, “This shows how much the world is changing, not only in motorsport, but the whole automotive industry. We’re witnessing a transformation that will first change our cities, and then our roads.
“Formula E is the championship that embodies that change, and together with all our teams and manufacturers we’ll keep pushing for technologies, to have better and more affordable electric cars.”