The Mercedes EQ Formula E team is on its way out at the end of this season, despite being the reigning world champions. Gen 3 is set to kick off by the end of 2022, and Mercedes doesn’t want to invest in developing a new racing electric drivetrain. The three pointed star company still owns a slot on the grid moving forward, but it will otherwise sit unused as the company abandons the series. But wait, this could give McLaren an easy entry into the series!
The team currently known as Mercedes EQ could race on in the 2022/23 season as McLaren. Because Mercedes already shut down its internal Gen 3 powertrain development program, were the papaya team to take over operations, it would need to find a supplier partner to make that happen. As of right now only NIO 333 and Nissan are available to supply another team, according to The Race, and of them Nissan makes the most sense. Personally, I’d love to see McLaren and Porsche join forces again with a Formula E drivetrain deal, but Stuttgart has apparently already found a dance partner in the formerly-BMW-tied Andretti outfit.
Mercedes, having already won the first round of the series over the weekend, is bowing out of Formula E altogether this August. In spite of the team already having begun development on a Gen 3 drivetrain, Daimler executives voted to discontinue the project and shitcan the whole thing to a scrap heap.
McLaren team boss Zak Brown initially indicated that he had wanted a Formula E deal signed by December, but things are dragging on. Last month he indicated that a final decision would be made “probably late in Q1" so by the end of March.
McLaren, under Brown’s control, has become quite the busy little racing venture. Not only has the company grown its Formula One operations and gotten back into race winning form, but it has taken on a majority stake in Arrow Schmidt Peterson Racing in IndyCar, as well as kicked off an Extreme E off-road electric racing team. Adding another major international open wheel series to the roster would probably be doable for the team, as Formula E is much less resource intensive than F1 or IndyCar, but it would still need to make financial sense for the company to jump in.
Mercedes Formula E team boss Ian James told The Race that he feels confident the team will still be in the series come next season.
“Internally, we’re clear on what the future looks like and it’s very much positive that we will be playing our part in Gen3 and beyond as well,” James told The Race. Whatever form we take in the future, we need to make sure that we’re going to be performing.
“For that reason, it’s just key for me that whoever we partner with, whether that’s on the commercial side, on the sporting side, or on the supply side, that it’s the right package and the right set-up to make sure we’re continuing in that vein.”
Brown seems to be doing the right thing when it comes to managing McLaren. He’s the visible figurehead, and the buck stops with him, and he’s good at motivating his drivers and fostering what appears to be a very happy workplace. Brown is growing the McLaren brand into new series, but doing it in a way that doesn’t stretch resources beyond their max. I like it, and I hope he continues on this path. Let’s see an IMSA McLaren GTP program, Zak. Please?