McLaren Racing is set to enter Formula E next season. Rumors had been circulating that the storied Formula 1 team was expanding into the electric single-seater series alongside other new activities like Extreme E and IndyCar, but on Saturday morning the news became official.
“McLaren Racing always seeks to compete against the best and on the leading edge of technology, providing our fans, partners, and people with new ways to be excited, entertained, and inspired,” said Zak Brown, McLaren Racing CEO.
“Formula E, like all our racing series, fulfills all those criteria. As with all forms of the sport we participate in, Formula E has racing at the center but will be strategically, commercially, and technically additive to McLaren Racing overall. I firmly believe that Formula E will give McLaren Racing a competitive advantage through greater understanding of EV racing, while providing a point of difference to our fans, partners and people and continuing to drive us along our sustainability pathway,” Brown said.
The announcement also clears up the question mark that’s been hanging over the season 7 championship-winning Mercedes-EQ team. While Formula E has attracted multiple OEMs to its playground over the past eight years, quite a few of them have only stuck around for a few seasons, leaving in part due to limited opportunities for technology transfer from the racetrack to road-going electric vehicles.
That was the stated reason Stuttgart pulled the plug on Mercedes-EQ, saying it wanted to focus its efforts on F1 when announcing the plan to quit last August. But instead of shutting down, McLaren Racing will take over the operation, which is based in Brackley, England, alongside the Mercedes-AMG F1 team.
“Today’s announcement confirms the next exciting chapter in the development of the team,” said Mercedes-EQ team principal Ian James, who will carry on in his leadership role.
“Since our inception in 2019, performance, sustainability, and adaptability have been the keys to our success. Becoming part of the McLaren Racing family is a privilege: McLaren has always been synonymous with success and high-performance. This is a great moment for all parties involved but, above all, for the people who make up this team. They are what keeps its heart beating. Being able to continue working with them is what I am most excited about. I’m very much looking forward for this next chapter for the team and will be a proud member of it in Season 9. Until then, we will be focused on delivering the best results possible as the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, for the remainder of the current season,” James said.
Technical development remains limited for next season’s Gen3 car, which will be much faster than the machine it replaces. But other series that McLaren is involved in—like IndyCar—also feature limited technology development in favor of close, entertaining racing, so there’s reason to expect McLaren to stick around for a while.
One thing it won’t be doing is making its own powertrain; as in Formula 1 and IndyCar, that will come from an outside supplier, although McLaren has yet to make anything public in that regard.