Formula E champions Mercedes to leave after next season

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Formula E champions Mercedes have announced they will leave the series at the end of next season.

Nyck de Vries won the drivers’ championship in Berlin last weekend while Mercedes clinched the teams’ trophy. Both became Formula E’s first world champions.

The brand will leave Formula E at the end of next season, which will be the final year of the current second-generation chassis. As with rival BMW, which made its final appearance in the series last weekend, Mercedes said it intends to refocus on its road electric vehicles.

“As part of the new strategic direction, the brand has deliberately chosen to shift resources for this accelerated ramp-up of electrification, including the development of three electric-only architectures to be launched in 2025,” said Mercedes in a statement.

“Therefore, Mercedes will reallocate resource away from its ABB FIA Formula E world championship programme and towards applying the lessons learned in competition to product development in series.”

Mercedes is the third German manufacturer to leave Formula E. Audi joined BMW in pulling out last weekend. The Andretti team which hosted BMW’s factory entry will remain in the series but long-time entrant ABT will not continue without Audi’s backing.

Mercedes celebrated winning both titles last weekend
However Porsche has confirmed to RaceFans that, despite suggestions during the Volkswagen Group ‘power day’ earlier this year they could look to other series where they might develop their own battery architecture, they will remain in Formula E to develop electric road car technologies.

Rumours suggest Mercedes’ Formula E entry could continue as a privateer team, potentially backed by its motorsport boss Toto Wolff. Formula E team principal Ian James confirmed that there was potential for the team to continue beyond Mercedes’ involvement as a factory team.

“We have been extremely fortunate to enjoy the support of Mercedes-Benz in building a class-leading Formula E operation over the past few seasons,” James said. “I would like to thank the company for its trust and support in our journey so far – and all the way through to what we hope will be a successful conclusion to season eight [2022] with a strong championship challenge.

“Although Mercedes-Benz has decided to leave, we recognise the value and power of Formula E; therefore, we will be exploring the best options for the team to continue competing.”

Mercedes customer Venturi confirmed at the London EPrix they had already begun looking into other options for the championships third generation machines should their supplier withdraw.

Mercedes arrived in Formula E via their customer racing team HWA, which contested the 2018-19 season with DTM driver Gary Paffett and former McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne, using Venturi powertrains.

Having seen some success, including a pole position in Hong Kong and a podium in Rome for Vandoorne, HWA’s entry became the Mercedes factory team. Vandoorne took two podiums in the opening rounds of the season, before a dry spell for the team ended in a one-two victory for Vandoorne, with new team mate Nyck de Vries in second place, at the final race in Berlin in 2020.

De Vries began the 2021 season with a win and sealed the title in a dramatic finale which was decided in the final laps around Tempelhof last weekend.

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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33 comments on “Formula E champions Mercedes to leave after next season”

  1. I wouldn’t be too surprised at all if a new all electric road racing car format gets created to challenge Formula E?

    Especially if more constructor teams decide to leave as well. There’s certainly a lot not to be desired in FE’s format.

    1. Indeed, that would seem likely @redpill

    2. DTM and FIA GT have EV classes coming, which on paper outperform FE and even their Gen 3 spec. Time will tell though.

      1. @FITB

        The all electric-powered GT car sounds (maybe the wrong word) really interesting and looking forward to seeing the racing. The power (575hp+regen of 700kw), speed and quali times look really good, it’s just now a question of how long/range they can race for without powering way down to a crawl or needing to switch cars?
        Would be cool if they can figure out sensible pit stops with either lighting fast battery swap outs or re-charging that doesn’t get in the way of normal racing. This definitely sounds (again, perhaps the wrong word) much better than what FE is offering?

        Germans love DTM so I expect to see a lot of involvement & constructor development in that class but can the two classes work successfully at the same time? If these two classes are successful, then I imagine we’ll see a newer, more successful open wheel class developed; replacing FE as the top electric open wheel racing class.

  2. The development potential of fE is to little to late.
    If only a manufacturer could design his own car it would have made sense. Now its some own stuff on a lot of prescription parts.
    Cancel it, it’s a useless competition.

    1. Absolutely true. Manufactures want relevance to their electric road car development and that requires a less restrictive FE spec car format. Innovation is very difficult.

      F1 should take note. Too much specification and reduced room for innovation will deter manufacturers there too if it is allowed to go too far. With the global push for electric vehicles F1 is a showcase for innovation which will polish their image while adding glamour. Lose that and we lose them. Lose them and we are back to the 60’s.

    2. You have a good point. Formula E in regards to it’s rules format in technology (not racing format) that it’s more like lower tiered racing like F3 and F2 using common equipment. I guess this allowed lower price of entry in hopes to increase racing entries but bigger teams want to use and introduce their own technology and equipment to showcase and hopefully win.

      Then add what @krommenaas wrote:

      “The qualifying format turns the championship into a lottery (which could be won by any of the top 15 drivers if there were just 1 more race), so there’s little prestige to be gained as well.”

    3. And then they need to put their tech in such a silly body that looks like a Frankenstein creation of a Formula car and GT car combined.

      Would love to see them do a road car EV series. Like touring car championships or even DTM in the olden days. Race cars that actually look like the cars on the road.

      1. DTM and FIA are looking at their own respective EV classes, just without all the gimmicks and will be designed for traditional racing. Iirc both are due some form of trial in 2023.

  3. To be fair, right from the start FE was built to not rely on manufacturers, so I’m sure they’ll be fine.
    They knew that once the championship was established, there would be a mad dash for manufacturers to align themselves. But they also knew that just like F1 throughout the ages, manufacturers move on as soon as they’ve got what they want out of it.
    More independents is a good thing to me.

  4. This is mostly about the German-centric perspective of those manufacturers – which has caused the DTM many problems over the years.

    Mercedes, Audi and BMW are really only interested in what the other factories are doing in these series. If the other boys aren’t coming out to play, Mercedes will stay at home too. Mercedes F1 is an outlier – and they’ve just sold off most of it.

    You would think that Formula E was the perfect motorsport to demonstrate your EV credentials in. Truth is that motorsport doesn’t sell cars and hasn’t done for ages, it’s all down to whether the board members love racing or not.

    1. Yes, thats why they should forbid factory teams all together. Let them provide an engine but nothing else. Ferrari, Alpine and Mercedes need to leave F1 as a team. Should have never happened in the first place

    2. There’s also a hugely significant factor with regards to dieselgate; Mercedes, Porsche, Audi and BMW all entered in the wake of it (and Nissan, who were also implicated, were swapped in as the Renault Groupe entry) when they needed, urgently, to have a high-profile, green-priority sport.

      At the time, none of the German OEMs (bar BMW) were making electric road cars in any serious capacity. Mercedes had mucked around slightly with Maybach but the current electrification era was a long way off and Formula E was a way to put a badged EV in front of people quickly

      Following COVID and now they have electric road vehicles as a marketing focus, the need to reallocate funds as the sector undergoes colossal transformation has been prioritised. Audi don’t need to show an FE car they’re calling an e-tron next to the nine hundred e-trons they seem to release every week.

      Can’t remember who mentioned touring cars but relatedly, not much change of an EV touring car championship taking off because no one is making them. Wall to wall SUVs…

      1. I don’t see how this is related to dieselgate. They claimed it was to develop EV car technology and that actually made sense since they were well behind. I guess by now they figured out that Formula E actually doesn’t allow them a lot of development and/or they reached whatever ceiling they ran into.

        Tesla and Porsche/Audi produce EV GT cars. With some stretch of the term GT, the Ford Mustang MACH-E could apply. BMW announced the i4. Maybe they can set up a an EV GT racing championship. That would make a lot more sense than Formula E.

        1. I don’t see how this is related to dieselgate.

          @f1osaurus – FE allowed a fast and relatively cheap “here we are with EVs” greenwash PR effect when they badly needed it.

          It never was much about development, since there are too many standard parts. But the PR of that was good.

          You are right that NOW there are EVs out there that could do rallye, or even touring cars etc. if anyone wanted. But they badly need to spend the money on development and investment into capacities to actually build the cars. And with serial built EVs out there to show around, there is not much need for a very niche product an electric touring car series would be.

          To be successful and get some reach they would probably have to compete with ICE cars. But even that seems to be more expensive than just showing the cars they build and selling them as soon as they are build (there are already waiting lists for almost all EVs you can buy.)

          1. @bascb Well you say it was for “green” marketing, while the teams actually claimed it was for EV development. I will take their word for it since it sounds a lot more likely than to pretend that racing is in any way or form perceived as a “green” endeavour.

            EV cars capable of racing have been available for a while now. I’d personally rather see EV GT or touring cars race rather than Formula E.

          2. Off course none of those manufacturers will say outright – “yeah, we needed a quick fix to show we are doing green as well after getting caught red handed with fraudulent behaviour to mask emissions” @f1osaurus.

            Define “for a while now”. It takes some time to setup a championship. But when there is only narrow interest (i.e. little money going to be made) and the cost and commitment needed is substantial (you need at least some 4-6 makes to get a touring car series for real, Tesla won’t participate, not that many left large enough to commit), the result is that there is no series. Or else, why isn’t there anything like this you think?

            Also, as I mentioned before, currently the manufacturers are struggling to actually BUILD as many EV cars as they have demand for. So they might just not have the capacity freely available to go and build EV touring cars. Nor really do they need to boost sales of cars since they need to build up manufacturing capacities first.

          3. @f1osaurus there is an EV touring car series already, it’s called Pure ETCR.

          4. F1oSaurus (@)
            20th August 2021, 8:48

            @bascb Yeah you can repeat that again and then I I will maintain that it’s ridiculous to pretend that entering a racing class has any redeeming qualities on dieselgate.

            Do you seriously think even one person in the world said, “ok, so they cheated on the diesel checks, but now these guys are wasting energy and resources on racing with RC cars now so they are cool!”. If you do then you really must think people are as dumb as rocks.

            No, they said they needed to develop EV tech and hoped that FE might help them do so or … as marketing goes, show the world that they can design a good EV car. At least that has some relation.

            There van been EV cars for years. Plenty of time for any of them to feature in a race class. Even if it’s just a cup series.

            And apparently one EV touring car racing class was just started a few months ago as Hazel indicates. Although I wouldn’t count that one since it’s not using the actual EV road cars, but road car lookalike bodies with all the same drivetrain mounted to them.

  5. I suspect the main problem is that very, very few people watch Formula E, and those few who do all watch F1 as well, so for Mercedes there is no publicity to gain from taking on FE as well. Also, the qualifying format turns the championship into a lottery (which could be won by any of the top 15 drivers if there were just 1 more race), so there’s little prestige to be gained as well.

  6. Can’t be surprised to hear manufacturers not wanting to invest in the equivalent of battery powered F3. There’s little left to be learnt technically with the next generation and little to no exposure to satisfy the marketers. I do wonder what will happen to the better drivers as the influx of manufacturers definitely improved the quality of drivers. Maybe they’ll stick around with a reasonable chance of winning a FIA world title, maybe they’ll take a longer look at Indy and sportscars again.

    1. @alec-glen

      The factor about what will happen to the drivers and the influx will be an interesting one, when you think about so many of the big dollar teams leaving Formula E, there’ll be six top seats less available in FE. These spots were normally for ex-F1 drivers and top F2 drivers.

      When drivers can’t get into F1, Formula E was a softer landing compared to other alternatives. I think we’ll start seeing a snow ball effect of Euro drivers wanting to get into Indy (when missing out on F1) even though it’s pretty much perceived that there’s no chance of getting back to F1 after joining Indy as FIA Super license points are pretty much non-existent (that should change).

      It will be interesting to watch what will happen with existing aging Indy drivers seat and how they compare to the new ones, especially if they include more road races? Might be time add some new teams or more cars to handle the demand. This should be very good for Indy’s pocketbook with all the increased world wide interest.

  7. Is this even surprising? Manufacturers are fickle, coming and going from various motorsport series as they please.

  8. Something I heard a couple months back was that Mercedes (Among others) was frustrated/disappointed in the direction the series was going in terms of development as well as how relatively little growth the series had seen & the belief that some elements of the series (Driving standards, rules & frequency of penalties) make it appear a bit amateur which doesn’t fit something which is now an FIA World Championship.

    When Formula E was initially announced the promise was that it would start out with a relatively restrictive set of regulations & gradually open up but this now doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen.

    In terms of growth. There has been some since the start but not as much happening as quickly as was hoped/expected, Especially with it now been a world championship which it was hoped would bring in fresh interest.

    And there is also F1’s next engine set of engine regulations, The core of which may well wind up been far more appealing to manufacturer’s than Formula E. Although even there there is still a lot of concern about how restrictive Liberty (Who are essentially telling the FIA what direction they want the regulations to go in) may want the formula to be.

  9. Perhaps the German manufacturers have caught onto the fact that “sustainability” is just a word to make folks feel better about themselves. Look at the facts, many manufacturers are moving away from smaller cars to large SUVs. In fact, in North America a recent poll had 42% of new buyer wanted to buy “larger vehicles in their next purchases and specifically SUVs”. Nothing “sustainable” about larger vehicles even if you have them shut off and restart and every intersection and stop sign. It’s like Save the whales, Save the Dolphins, Save the Oceans, Save the Snails, etc, very selfless pursuits but no real committment to really do anything. Sustainable sentiments that look good on a trendy drop neck t-shirt with optional tie dye (for a nominal additional fee).

    Formula E certainly has a problem as Audi (Endurance/LeMans) and Mercedes Benz (F1) have a history of long comittments to Motorsports (BMW withdrawing doesn’t surprise me as they never fully commit or stay for any length of time in any form of Motorsports, see their F1 program as their largest recent drop-out). Either E doesn’t allow innovation, customers don’t care if you win in Formula E or maybe the product just isn’t there and race fans don’t want to listen to angry sewing machines. I see Formula E entry paperwork now has a defined financial penalty for E teams that leave before a substantial (not to be with sustainable) car rule change, even E knows they have a problem.

    1. “Look at the facts, many manufacturers are moving away from smaller cars to large SUVs. In fact, in North America a recent poll had 42% of new buyer wanted to….”

      American trends are irrelevant for most of the world though. American manufactures are not even involved here, only European and Asian, some of whom may don’t even operate much on the American market.

      1. Like it or not the USA does influence car manufacturers, esp California, and as such E. I live in the USA for part of most years, pre and hopefully post covid, and Formula E is irrelevant for 99.9 % of the US population. Not being pointed, just the facts. But USA aside, my original comments still apply. E doesn’t add to sustainability, Motorsports or buying decisions.

  10. It’s disappointing but this is why motorsports, not just Formula E but Formula One as well shouldn’t be as dependent on manufacturers. When I first got into motorsports admittedly I focused on the names, the recognisable stuff that pulled me in but the amount of times I’ve seen them pull out, get back in, pull out again… it’s just not worth it.

    I find a lot more enjoyment focusing on teams that are purely race orientated as generally they’re prepared to stick it through even if it gets hard. ‘Works’ teams shouldn’t be allowed at all. They’re fickle, unreliable and prone to withdrawing whenever things don’t go their way.

    Sincerely, a bitter fan burnt by too many ‘withdrawls’.

    1. @rocketpanda From what I’ve seen, manufacturers and private teams drop out and stay in about equal measure, and generally much better with manufacturers instead of the no-hoper embarrassment of the struggling private ventures.

  11. I never understood how motorsport could add anything to the development of electric car technology, since it’s all just about developing better energy storage and electrical engines, both of which are being developed in all kinds of other industries (e.g. power tools, home appliances, industrial machinery, modern housing etc. you name it). Whereas, everything that is exclusively related to cars you develop in any motorsport there already exists, from Rallying to Formula 1.

    1. @amian

      VW has already started to build their own proprietary battery cells, others are following suit so it’s very relevant.

      All the industrial examples you mentioned above are in the same boat as motorsport industry has been, they all use the same contracted sources for cells as well, not their own. These contracted sources are more related to computer electronic companies like Samsung, Amperex, LG, Panasonic, Livent and Ganfeng.

      Electric motors is another category that auto makers are getting heavily involved in producing their own. Because of this massive scale of development, these autos makers will then be able to market and sell their own technology to non auto industries like some of the ones you listed above.
      Bosch which started as a car part company and has been been heavily involved in the auto industry since 1897, they will be benefitting immensely from all of this development. As you most likely already know, Bosch has contributed and produces items for every industry you listed above.

      So again, it makes total sense that motorsport can add to the development of electric car technology and very relevant to many other non-automotive industries and market; they’ll all gain from motorsport development..

  12. Both became Formula E’s first world champions. Does that not just sound totally wrong and choke worthy? I realize the FIA has only listed it since 2020 as a world championship but what a complete joke. Was that done just for Mercedes? How someone could even word it like that is a stretch. It is totally cringe worthy. You would want extra publishing fees to put pen to that.

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