It’s been reported that Mercedes-Benz is set to announce its departure from the fully electric ABB FIA Formula E open-wheel racing series, with the news expected to break formally some time this week.
The break up follows a period of unrest between the three-pointed star and category officials amid discussions around the series’ upcoming Gen3 regulations. Mercedes had previously called for “clarification” regarding the structure of the series.
The news broke on the eve of the Formula E series finale in Berlin, Germany. There, Mercedes’ driver Nyck de Vries was able to secure a championship victory for the marque. It’s expected that the title win will not impact the manufacturer’s desire to depart.
Mercedes isn’t the first brand to leave the series. German rivals Audi and BMW have already confirmed that this season just gone was their last.
It’s a curious exodus, given that all three of these brands have recently announced significant plans for increasing investment in EVs. In Mercedes’ case, it announced last month that every car in its line-up would have a fully electric version by 2025, with an aim of being fully electric by 2030 in most markets.
BMW had previously referenced that it decided to leave Formula E because it didn’t feel there was much more to ‘learn’ from the series, having initially joined the category to further its knowledge on electric vehicle development.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff seemed to outline that the brand positioning of Formula E might be a factor in the decision.
“If Mercedes were to leave, which we haven’t said, then, of course, you need to work on alternative strategies. […] We are in the sport not only because we guys like to compete and drive around in circles,” Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff told Motorsport.com.
“But it is mainly a marketing and communications platform. And therefore, like everything we do, is under constant evaluation in terms of the benefits that any platform is able to generate for Mercedes-Benz.
“Apart from the let’s say marketing value that it generates, it is about technology transfer and these two need to go hand in hand: technology and marketing. This is why everything is permanently evaluated and is this really still contributing to where we see the brand?”