Mercedes has decided to start racing electric cars in 2019 at the expense of its DTM program.
Following the conclusion of the 2018 season, Mercedes will quit the German tin-top series in order to join the Formula E grid for the series’ sixth season as the Stuttgart-based company reshuffles its motorsports strategy.
Mercedes had indicated interest in Formula E late last year and recently watched current Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters rivals Audi and BMW make formal commitments to the all-electric open-wheel series.
“Our years in the DTM will always be held high as a major chapter in the motorsport history of Mercedes,” said Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff in a statement.
“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.”
Since Mercedes joined DTM in 1988, the brand has won 10 driver’s championships, 13 team titles, and six manufacturer awards. Not to mention 183 race wins, 128 pole positions, and a further 540 podiums.
Unfortunately for DTM, the touring cars carry next to no road relevance or marketing value for Mercedes’ new EQ Power sub-brand that has begun appearing alongside AMG on the side of the company’s Formula 1 cars. Dr. Jens Thiemer, VP of marketing at Mercedes-Benz, called Formula E “an emotional spin to our EQ technology.”
Mercedes had originally signed an agreement with the FIA to enter Formula E in 2018, but instead, the Silver Arrows will defer a year in order to better understand the series and prepare its entry accordingly. F1 fans shouldn’t fret, however, as Wolff reaffirmed Mercedes commitment to the FIA’s darling.
“In motorsport like in every other area, we want to be the benchmark in the premium segment and to explore innovative new projects. 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.”
It’s unclear what will happen to DTM without Mercedes, as the brand has been a staple since the series relaunched in 2000. Both Audi and BMW said they would have to re-evaluate their own programs following Mercedes’ exit, as neither is particularly interested in a two-horse race.