Mercedes-Benz has signed an agreement with Formula E that gives it an option to compete in the championship's 2018/19 season. If it chooses to do so, the carmaker will take one of two new spaces in the championship, which will see the number of teams rise from 10 to 12.
In addition to an increased number of competing teams, the 2018/19 season – which will be Formula E's fifth since it launched in 2014 – will also see drivers competing in only one car per race, as opposed to switching into a second halfway through. This is as a result of new batteries, to be supplied by McLaren Applied Technologies, that will have almost double the capacity of those currently used.
Mercedes-Benz's interest in Formula E follows the announcements that electric vehicle (EV) startup Faraday Future will begin competing from next season through a partnership with the Dragon Racing team and that Audi will ramp up its involvement through its existing partnership with ABT Schaeffler. Mercedes-Benz sees Formula E as not just an opportunity for more motor racing success, but for developing EV technology.
"Electrification will play a major role in the future of the automotive industry," explains Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff. "Racing has always been a technology R&D platform for industry and this will make Formula E very relevant in the future."
CEO of Formula E Alejandro Agag echoes this view of the championship. "Formula E wants to become the platform where car manufacturers test and develop the technologies that they will then introduce on their road cars," he says. "Having the chance to include in the future a brand like Mercedes our Championship would be a major boost to achieve that objective."