Mercedes-Benz has confirmed a shift in its motorsport program that sees the German brand ditch the DTM touring car series in favour of Formula E starting in 2019.
Having been involved in Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, or DTM, and its predecessor series since its inception in 1988, Mercedes has won 183 races, along with 10 drivers’, 13 team and six manufacturer titles from 26 seasons. However, with the path to the electric future all but certain for road cars, the move into Formula E is a logical one.
“Our departure from the DTM brings a long-standing motorsport era to a close. We look back with pride on the commitment of our teams, drivers, partners and the many people behind the scenes, who so often made the series a fascinating platform for our customers and for fans of our brand, it is now time to start on a new path.” Mercedes-Benz Cars vice president of marketing, Dr Jens Thiemer said.
With the likes of Jaguar already in and BMW and Audi also confirming their entry into the all-electric series, Mercedes-Benz joins at a time when it has won the last three constructor and driver’s championships in Formula One and is looking to find more road-car relevance in its motorsport programs - especially with the company set to market future battery-powered electric vehicles using the EQ label.
“Formula E is a significant step in order to demonstrate the performance of our attractive battery powered electric vehicles, as well as giving an emotional spin to our EQ technology brand through motorsport and marketing,” Thiemer said.
The German brand’s head of motorsport, Toto Wolff, says the combination of Formula 1 and Formula E is the best of both worlds for the manufacturer, going forward, with the latter a “brand new form of racing that reflects a rapidly changing automotive landscape.”
“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. Formula E is like an exciting start-up venture.” Wolf said.
With Formula One more than likely to maintain its current hybrid engine formula of a V6 with battery assistance for the 2021 season - when the current specifications expire and the FIA had a chance to change the current engine specifications – it appears the pinnacle of motorsport will stay with internal combustion engines for another decade whilst electrification takes a larger market share of road cars.
“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.”
Unlike Formula One, which starts its season with the Melbourne GP, Formula E currently has no races for Australia, with the European and North American centric series set for expansion in the coming years.