Mercedes exit Formula E: Only F1, no Le Mans

Mercedes will end its works commitment in Formula E in August 2022. The reasons for this are complex. There is not enough for marketing, the development of the electric racing series is stagnating, the rules are too random. That's why Mercedes prefers to concentrate fully on Formula 1.

It wasn't long ago that the German manufacturers really stormed into Formula E. Since the sixth season, BMW, Audi, Porsche and Mercedes have been doing the same four German car manufacturers one team. The motto was real works assignments instead of just supporting private teams. But the hype is slowly coming to an end.

Soon only Porsche will remain from the squad. The Zuffenhausen-based sports car manufacturer is the only German brand that has committed itself to Formula E in the long term. The rest draw a line. Audi initially announced its departure at the end of this season, the seventh in Formula E history. Then BMW. Mercedes will also turn its back on the electric world championship as a participant and manufacturer. But you can still have one more season. Mercedes will participate in the eighth season of Formula E as defending champions. In August 2022 it will be over. Mercedes made the exit official on Wednesday (18.8.2021).

The withdrawal had gradually become apparent in the last few months. Mercedes initially missed a deadline in March to commit to the new Formula E rules. The racing series gave the premium manufacturer a delay until the summer to make a decision on whether to be on board for the Gen3 era. This begins with the ninth season (2022/2023), i.e. the season after that, in which the third vehicle generation with less weight and more power is used. Mercedes no longer wants to take part. The decision on this was made several weeks ago.

Too little advertising effect

The Swabians are pulling the rip cord, although the performance on the urban racetracks is good. Nyck de Vries clinched the world championship title as a driver last weekend, Mercedes the one-make cup for the best team. It is not the lack of success that is driving the brand away, but the sluggish development of the electric start-up. Even after seven years, Formula E has not managed to arouse real enthusiasm in the motorsport scene.

Officially, another reason is given. The decision was made as part of a strategic reorientation. The resources are to be reallocated to the development of road electric cars. Mercedes wants to launch three new electric platforms here by the end of the decade. The approximately 30 million euros that are invested in the racing series per season are obviously too much. It sounds like an advanced argument, especially since Formula E is working on introducing a budget cap in the region of 12 to 15 million euros.

Behind closed doors you can hear other reasons why Mercedes is getting out. The marketing value generated by participating is too low. It doesn't justify the expense of continuing the motorsport program. In the shadow of the great Formula 1, the Formula E plant does not thrive as desired. In addition, manufacturers are generally bothered by certain developments.

For example the qualifying format that penalizes the top-placed riders in the World Championship. Or the irregular start times that the TV partners dictate to the series. Or trifles that lead to the exclusion from the rating. The manufacturers say that Formula E absolutely cannot be talked into it. Which isn't a bad thing per se if there isn't a lack of experience - as the manufacturers intervene.

Le Mans Hypercar not on the table

In Formula E, qualifying is carried out in four starting groups, each with six drivers. The fastest six pilots climb up and later fight for pole position in a shoot-out. The first group consists of the six best-placed drivers in the World Championship. They have a disadvantage because they sort of clean the track for the rest of the starters. The later you start, the better the track conditions because the grip level increases on the otherwise slippery roads. In a tight field, sometimes not even the fastest car can help a team. Then you start from midfield instead of from the front rows, even though you didn't make a mistake yourself. That sounds more like a game of dice than racing, but the FIA ​​​​has already announced a rule change for the coming season.

The manufacturers complain that errors in form, such as that of Mercedes in Valencia or Porsche in Mexico, lead to pole positions being denied or race winners being disqualified. A tire identification number is entered incorrectly (Mercedes) or a tick is not set in the tire registration (Porsche), and Formula E imposes draconian penalties. You could say she is more papal than the pope. Others interject: The racing series consistently enforces its regulations. Either way, space-castling is annoying for fans.

The changing start times are also criticized. Because they confuse. In Formula 1, every fan knows that the European races start at 3 p.m. In Formula E you have to check every time. There is a lack of stringency in the process. These many little things add up - and in the end, in addition to the comparatively weak marketing value, result in the decisive factor against the E series.

Mercedes wants to focus on Formula 1. "Formula 1 offers great potential for technology transfer, as we see in current projects such as the Vision EQXX. In addition, our team and the entire series will be climate-neutral by the end of the decade," says Markus Schäfer, board member for development.That's why Le Mans was canceled after leaving Formula E. Mercedes will not join Audi and Porsche as well as many other manufacturers like Ferrari. A hypercar project for the 24-hour classic is not on the table.

And what happens to the built team? Mercedes said: "While Mercedes-Benz is exiting Formula E at the end of Season 8, Team Management has begun to review options for continuing the team's commitment to the series in the upcoming Gen 3 era, including also a potential sale to new owners."

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