Current Formula One champion Mercedes has signed an option with Formula E Operations Ltd. to join the open wheel electric racing series starting with Season 5. The third season will kick off this month in Hong Kong. Beginning in 2018, the series will expand to 12 teams from the current limit of 10. According to the option agreement, Mercedes may choose to be one of the twelve entries for the 2018-19 season.
The agreement is subject to approval by the FIA, the world motorsports sanctioning body. Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E, said, “We are delighted to confirm that we have reserved one of our two new entries in Season 5 for MGP. Formula E wants to become the platform where car manufacturers test and develop the technologies that they will then introduce on their road cars.”
All of the current ten teams in the series are expected to continue in Season 5 and beyond, although some may choose to join forces with other car manufacturers. Audi has already indicated it will be part of the championship in 2018 and Faraday Future is teaming up with Dragon Racing. Jaguar is also one of the current contestants. Other car companies involved include BMW, Citroen, and Mahindra.
If anyone doubts the future of transportation is electric, just look at how quickly Formula E has grown. While its big brother Formula 1 is beset by declining viewership and exploding costs, Formula E is much in demand from cities around the world who want to play host to the electric racing series.
In 2018, Formula E will change its racing format. At the present time, the batteries of the cars are not powerful enough to last for an entire 60 minutes of racing and so drivers are required to come into the pits during the race and switch to a second car. But beginning with the 5th season, the cars will be required to race the full hour on one battery charge and no car changes will be permitted.
Mercedes Grand Prix executive director Toto Woff said, “Electrification will play a major role in the future of the automotive industry. Racing has always been a technology R&D platform for industry and this will make Formula E very relevant in the future.” Mercedes is currently contractually committed to Formula One until 2020. After that, who knows? Racing cars with internal combustion engines may be a thing of the past by then.
Source: RTT News