Mercedes will quit the DTM at the end of 2018 to enter Formula E after 18 consecutive seasons in the German touring car series. The manufacturer cited a desire to pursue electric mobility and new technology to use in its road cars as the reason for its departure from DTM.
It will launch its FE team for the 2019-2020 season after having competed in the DTM since 2000. Its current drivers under the HWA team are Gary Paffett, ex-Force India racer Paul di Resta, soon-to-be Force India test driver Lucas Auer, former Lotus tester Edoardo Mortara, Maro Engel and Robert Wickens.
Audi and BMW will therefore be the only two manufacturers present in the German series after 2018.
In a statement given out on Monday, Mercedes Formula 1 Team Principal Toto Wolff said, “Our years in the DTM will always be held high as a major chapter in our motorsport history.
“I want to thank every team member whose fantastic work has helped to make Mercedes-Benz the most successful DTM manufacturer during that time.
“Although leaving is tough for all of us, we will be doing everything during this season and next to make sure we win as many DTM titles as possible before we go. We owe that to our fans and to ourselves.”
Mercedes has retained Malaysian oil and gas company Petronas as its sponsor in F1 since 2010, and, amid rumours that the sponsorship deal would end, the manufacturer renewed its sponsorship contract with the oil company to stretch beyond 2018 in a multi-year deal.
“In motorsport, like in every other area, we want to be the benchmark in the premium segment and to explore innovative new projects,” continued Wolff.
“The combination of Formula 1 and Formula E delivers that. Formula E is like an exciting start-up venture: it offers a brand new format, combining racing with a strong event character, in order to promote current and future technologies.
“Electrification is happening in the road car world and Formula E offers manufacturers an interesting platform to bring this technology to a new audience – and to do so with a completely new kind of racing, different to any other series.
“I am pleased that we were able to extend our entry option for one year to the 2019/20 season. This gives us time to properly understand the series and to prepare for our entry in the right way.”
In 26 DTM seasons, from 1988, Mercedes has won 10 drivers’ titles, 13 team titles and six manufacturer titles (including those in the International Touring Car championship). Mercedes also boasts 184 race wins, 137 pole positions and 552 podium finishes in the DTM.
Mercedes will join Audi, Jaguar and Renault in FE among others, but Audi’s participation in the DTM hasn’t been compromised so far because ABT’s FE offering isn’t factory-backed. However, next season Audi’s FE team will receive factory-backing.
The technological aspects of FE are now seen as a major driving factor for teams and Mercedes is aiming to raise the profile of its ‘EQ’ brand.
“Formula E is a significant step in order to demonstrate the performance of our attractive battery powered electric vehicles under the EQ technology brand,” said Dr Jens Thiemer, Vice President of Marketing at Mercedes.
“Our departure from the DTM brings a long-standing motorsport era to a close.
“We look back with pride on the commitment of our teams, drivers, partners and the many people behind the scenes, who so often made the series a fascinating platform for our customers and for fans of our brand.
“Mercedes-Benz will market future battery powered electric vehicles using the EQ label,” continued Thiemer.
“This step shows how much the world is changing, not only in motorsport, but the whole automotive industry. We’re witnessing a transformation that will first change our cities, and then our roads,” said Formula E Founder and CEO Alejandro Agag.
“Formula E is the championship that embodies that change, and together with all our teams and manufacturers we’ll keep pushing for technologies to have better and more affordable electric cars.”
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