Mercedes have confirmed they will race in Formula E from season six. They initially took up an option to reserve a place on the grid in season five, but this has been extended.
The news follows recent announcements from BMW and Audi, who have confirmed they will be increasing their involvement in the all-electric series by entering official “factory” teams.
From season five, the range of the batteries will be extended and drivers will no longer need to swap cars at the mid-point of the race. This development is one of the key factors in so many manufacturers taking an interest, as they believe it will better reflect the range of their electric road cars.
Mercedes’ head of motorsport, Toto Wolff, praised the series’ innovation and compared it to a start-up venture:
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.
Wolff confirmed they would not be taking up the option to race in season five. “This gives us time to properly understand the series and to prepare for our entry in the right way”, he said.
The team will withdraw from DTM in 2018 in preparation for their Formula E debut in the 2019/20 season.
Audi Sport, who have already withdrawn from Le Mans and WEC, will enter their works team next season (season 4). BMW, who currently partner with the Andretti team, will race under their own name the year after that. It has also been reported that Nissan could take the place of Renault in the near future.
Image: Mercedes-Benz logo (CC) Ran Allen on Flickr