Over the weekend the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team took the season Teams and Drivers championships in something of an upset that saw many title contenders crash out of the E Prix. Three days later the team announced that it will be leaving the sport at the end of next season around this time in 2022. The impetus for the departure is interesting, as the German automaker says it will be redoubling its efforts to develop battery electric street cars and push forward in Formula One.
The HWA Racelab team first competed in Formula E back in season 5, setting the stage for Mercedes to take over as an official manufacturer entrant in season 6. The team netted its first victory at the tail end of that season with Stoffel VanDoorne, which set up Mercedes for an incredible season 7 in 2021. It would seem that with the championship now in hand, Mercedes has done what it came to do and is heading out the door with its head held high.
Because Mercedes-Benz is dedicating itself to an all-electric strategy (sort of, but not really, as this pledge only stands “where market conditions allow”) for street cars by the end of this decade, the company has decided to pull its electric-propulsion engineers from the Formula E project to focus on road car development. I’m sure their efforts will be concentrated on extreme engineering exercises like the totally cool EQXX.
The Mercedes-EQ Formula E team will depart from Mercedes ownership following season 8 of Formula E, but there is a potential path for the team to continue operating as a privateer. Team ownership in the form of Ian James and Toto Wolff are working with Daimler to find a way for the team to continue to exist after the three-pointed star departs. The team is packed with high-profile engineers, with a technical director, race engineer, chief designer, and head of aero coming from strong backgrounds in Formula One, and would surely be of value to whoever wants to take this project on for the introduction of the Gen 3 chassis.
Whoever takes over the development of the team beyond season 8 would likely have to form a technical alliance and drivetrain supply from an existing team to keep things rolling, as it seems unlikely Mercedes will continue to develop a Formula E powertrain without a factory effort. With BMW and Audi also leaving the sport, a series once packed with manufacturer support is starting to see supplies dwindle. At least Porsche and Nissan remain committed to the series.