Tom Dillmann, NIO, Formula E testing, Valencia, 2018

Wolff unsure whether Formula E is “racing or an event”

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Toto Wolff admits he isn’t sure whether Formula E should be considered as “racing” in the traditional sense as Mercedes prepares to enter the championship next year.

The manufacturer has pulled out of the DTM and preparing to switch its focus to the all-electric single seater championship.

“We did DTM for 30 years,” said Wolff at last week’s FIA Gala. “We love touring car racing and I think it’s a fantastic sport. But the times are changing.

“The automotive industry is changing and it’s becoming more electrical. What Alejandro Agag has done with Formula E, how it’s grown, it is spectacular. It’s a playing ground for many OEMs these days.”

Wolff said Mercedes “benchmarked” the available championships before committing to Formula E. “We feel that Formula 1 is perfect for us because it’s a global sport it’s the pinnacle of motor racing and Formula E somehow represents an exciting start-up. We have no idea where it goes.

“Is it racing or is it more an event? But we like what it is today and we are excited and curious to join the series in 2019 and see if we can be successful or not.

“It’s about electrification, it’s about being downtown in the cities, attracting new audiences and having Formula E on one side as an exciting start-up and on the other side Formula 1 as our Mercedes AMG as the global sport works well for us.”

Mercedes’ deal to compete in Formula 1 runs until the end of the 2020 season. The new Formula E season begins tomorrow in Saudi Arabia.

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29 comments on “Wolff unsure whether Formula E is “racing or an event””

  1. A struggle Liberty seems to have regarding f1 from time to time as well

    1. And since Bernie proposed ideas like adding sprinklers and “one time shortcuts”, it’s pretty clear he was a bit confused as well.

      1. Bernie was many things, but confused he was not, i am sure of it.

    2. Precisely what I was going to say though I think Liberty tend more towards the Event concept and that acquiring F1 was mainly about getting the chance to take control of some very wealthy cities for a weekend.

  2. Does it matter which is which?

    FE has better racing than F1 and they put on a better show!

    1. Hummm, nope.

      1. Have you watched it?

        1. Many times. Slowest looking cars ever. I want to give them a push to help them along.

      2. Yes it has… you are talking without watching a single race

    2. i have watched the first years of formula e and do not think the racing is all that good.

      circuits are awful and the racing mostly consist’s of bumper cars and safety cars and i simply have not found that to be all that good from a racing perspective. too much contact, too many safety cars on some truly dreadful circuits.

      i’d take the racing in f1 over that any day of the week.

    3. A bunch of evenly matched Prius’s could have a closer race than a LaFerrari, P1, Valkyrie and AMG One.

      But I know which i’d rather watch! Clue: It’s not the Toyotas.

    4. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      17th December 2018, 11:37

      This is comparable to when vegans insist that their quorn burger tastes better than beef AND has more protein.

      Cute but simply not true.

  3. “Is it racing or is it more an event? But we like what it is today and we are excited and curious to join the series in 2019 and see if we can be successful or not.

    Successful in changing the sport/show to suit their own needs.

    A company punished for price fixing and being investigated for emissions cheating and corruption

  4. Well, at least in FE, rules are the same for everybody!

    About FE, you can watch today’s Shakedown session (limited power, 110 kW) here:

    1. Toto’s gonna have to sleep on the couch tonight.

    2. Those cars running at 110kw looked incredibly bland. Feels like watching electric go karts cruise around.

      That’s the worst possible video to showcase FE

      1. It’s called shakedown for a reason you know

  5. If they win everything, it is racing.
    Otherwise, it is an event.

    1. Exactly my thought, Wolff is hedging his bet in case Merc’s entry is a total failure.

      Although having watched for the past few seasons, I will say FE seems to be less about the sport of racing and more about the spectacle. I think probably to offset the limitations of an electric powertrain.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        14th December 2018, 17:24

        It’ll be quite different this year though. They won’t change cars half way through anymore and the cars themselves are quite a lot faster.

  6. Little electric cars squeeing round a tight track? Reminds me of an old Nigel Mansell advert. “It’s faster than the real thing”

  7. Sometimes wolff talks too much like the face of a corporation, making him a real bad sport. Ofcourse FE is a sport and an event, really dumb words by wolff.

  8. yeah because F1 today is pure racing, 8 years and only two teams won the championship…

    1. thats what ‘pure racing’ is though, always has been which is why there are plenty of similar periods through it’s history. how many teams won championships between 1984-1993 for instance?

      formula e is a spec chassis championship so it’s always going to have more teams in contention just like f3, f2, indycar etc. will. when you have a situation where teams design there own cars you will always get somebody finding an advantage which can lead to dominance. that’s just the way it has always and will always be unless you fundamentally change what f1 is and make it a spec series or something.

      also maybe worth pointing out here that with engines been the most important aspect of formula e 3 of it’s 4 championships have been won by renault which has for the most part been the best engine in that series. so it’s not really that different to f1 in the regard of dominance of the bit that matters most.

      1. F1 is mainly a spending competition with the resources of various corporations being the main differentiator, whereas the other series you mention are competitions where engineering and driver talent are the differentiators.

        I guess which of these is closer to “pure racing” is in the eye of the beholder.

  9. Rather listen to Dario than friggin’ Crofty any day tho. Jesus I miss David Hobbs.

  10. Stephen Higgins
    14th December 2018, 23:53

    The smug, sanctimonious nature of FE is what puts me off.

    When a hydrogen powered car wins Le Mans outright, FE will be consigned to a pointless and boring footnote in racing history anyway.

  11. petebaldwin (@)
    15th December 2018, 14:37

    I just watched the first race on iPlayer and I enjoyed that! They could race closely but overtaking wasn’t easy – every move was done in the breaking zone rather than on the straight.

    There are gimmicks that some hardcore F1 fans will always hate but Formula E isn’t trying to be F1 with electric cars. It’s doing it’s own thing and for me, it was a good, fun 45 minutes of motorsport.

    It won’t replace F1 but if you give it a chance, it compliments it nicely.

    1. There was some overtaking on the straights, but only if the passer had entered the “attack zone”. It was funny watching one of the guys, Lopez was it? miss the activation zone twice.
      I was very hung over when I watched the race so I quite enjoyed it, if I watch it with a clear head next time maybe not so much.
      However, I agree with an earlier comment re the tracks for FE, and this one in particular, awful, just awful. It looks like a construction zone with a makeshift track plopped in to it. I don’t understand the point of hosting a race in a place no one would otherwise choose to go to.

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