McLaren Racing on Monday made a definitive announcement that it might eventually race in another series. It signed an option to enter, Formula E, now an FIA World Championship series, at the end of 2022. This is not, of course, a binding contract and transmits nothing but interest, but it’s interesting nonetheless. McLaren admits that Formula E is on its radar “as part of its ongoing evaluation of potential new motorsport platforms.”
Formula E allows for a maximum of 12 team entries per season, and with Audi and BMW recently announcing that they would drop their programs at the end of 2021 there’s now space for McLaren to step into the fray. There’s no reason why McLaren wouldn’t be potentially interested in expanding to Formula E, as it already has the workshop space and personnel to accommodate such a platform. It’s well known that the company has been struggling financially recently, but after a partial buyout big Macca now has money to fund its future again.
McLaren does not currently race in Formula E because McLaren Applied Technologies has been supplying the series with its spec battery array, via California-based subcontractor Atieva (aka Lucid Motors). The battery supply contract ends for McLaren next year, which opens up the racing side of the business to entering a team in the series when the Gen 3 chassis and rules are adopted.
Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing: “We’ve been closely observing Formula E for some time and monitoring the series’ progress and future direction. The opportunity to take an option on an entry, together with the completion of the McLaren Applied supplier contract with the FIA at the end of Gen 2, gives us the necessary time to decide if Formula E is right for McLaren as a future competition platform.”
While securing an option doesn’t mean McLaren is definitely going to make the jump, it’s at least a few steps closer to the series than most racing teams. According to reports from Motorsport.com, McLaren is also evaluating a sojourn into the LMDh prototype sports car category shared between the FIA WEC and IMSA series.
If McLaren does, in fact, join Formula E, it will be the only manufacturer involved in the three most important open-wheel series in the world (the other two being Formula 1 and IndyCar, of course). Considering that FE costs run much closer to the latter than the former, it would make a lot of sense for the Papaya Orange team to use that low cost of entry to its advantage.