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Formula E Is Losing Its Golden Goose

Mercedes is gone, so what now?
Leo Shvedsky
August 20 2021

Nothing has made it official. That said, there have been rumblings ever since Nyck de Vries took the championship that Mercedes would be leaving the series. Mercedes hasn’t officially committed to new Gen3 Formula E rules for the 2022 season, saying it wants “clarification” over “important details regarding the structure of the series.” This comes as a bit of a shock as Mercedes was one of the founding teams of the championship series. And it has just plain dropped out. 

The German brand feels it has learned enough from Formula E, which is fueling rumors of the Mercedes’s departure. “Mercedes will reallocate resource away from its ABB FIA Formula E World Championship program and towards applying the lessons learned in competition to product development in series,” says Mercedes 

But let’s face it, racing has always been more about the bottom line than the finish line. Mercedes is being completely honest about how the racing series isn’t cutting it when it comes to the luxury brand’s long-term plan. "We are in the sport not only because we guys like to compete and drive around in circles,” Toto Wolff told Motorsport. “[I]t is mainly a marketing and communications platform. And therefore, like everything we do, is under constant evaluation in terms of the benefits that any platform is able to generate for Mercedes-Benz.”  

This is not great news for Formula E, which has been struggling after it’s 2014 launch. The mission behind the series is noble – it gives the spotlight to electric cars and proves that racing can be enjoyable even as we reduce carbon emissions. However, last year was a hard one for Formula E. The pandemic caused the 2020 season to be delayed, and the end of 2020, Audi and BMW both announced their withdrawal from the racing series.  

Now, with Mercedes leaving the race, the future of Formula E is in question. Who will fill the hole left behind by Mercedes? Will Formula E be able to pull in enough sponsorships – and attention – without these three big auto manufacturers participating? Formula E is already battling the reputation that it’s too slow and too boring. Without Mercedes in the mix, sponsors may leave the series as they can no longer associate themselves with the luxury brand.  It’s a shame, because the recent UN report on climate change has made the need for reducing carbon emissions all the more pressing.  

Even though Mercedes is leaving leave Formula E, the brand still plans to launch electric-only road cars starting in 2025. Mercedes’s future might not lie in Formula E, but it will be electric nonetheless.



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