Mercedes Opts for Formula E Electric Vehicle Race Series in 2018

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Formula E is the electric vehicle equivalent of Formula racing, and Mercedes could be the next car manufacturer in line to follow the likes of Jaguar, Renault, BMW and Audi in the 2018-2019 Formula E season.

The company has opted in to the race series, but their participation is subject to approval by the International Automobile Federation (FIA). Ten teams currently qualify for Formula E with two drivers each. The course is typically a temporary street circuit set up within the city where the series is being held. The first Formula E championship race was hosted in Beijing, China in 2014.

Race day begins with two practice runs in the morning, one of 45 minutes and the other of 30 minutes duration. The qualifying session is for an hour starting at noon, and drivers are divided into four groups, with five drivers in each group. Each group gets 6 minutes in the qualifying round to show their best lap time. The actual race lasts for about 50 minutes, with one mandatory pit stop to change cars. Teams are not allowed to change tires on this pit stop unless they are replacing a flat or damaged tire. Car power during the actual race is restricted to 170 kWh, but for the qualifying sessions drivers get the full 200 kWh. The average power generated by Formula E cars is a minimum of around 250 hp.

As for the cars, the battery and chassis are standard for all cars. This was true of the powertrain as well, but as of season two last year, the electric motor, inverter, gearbox and cooling system can be made by a select group of eight manufacturers chosen by the FIA.

Mercedes-Benz Motorsport head Toto Wolff commented on the company’s participation in the fifth season of the Formula E championship race, scheduled for sometime in 2018-2019:

“Electrification will play a major role in the future of the automotive industry. This will make Formula E very relevant in the future.”

If approved, Mercedes will be one of twelve teams racing Formula E, which is the current limit set for participating companies.

We are currently nearing the third season of Formula E, which will flag off in Hong Kong on October 9, 2016. The defending Formula E champion for this year is Sebastien Buemi, and the defending teams champion is Buemi’s Renault e.dams team.

Season five in 2018-19 will see a major change in the championship. It is expected that battery technology will be advanced enough by then to have one car per driver instead of the current two.

The decision to apply to Formula E is a significant one for Mercedes-Benz Motorsports. It has already won the Formula 1 championship in the driver as well as constructor categories for the past two seasons, and is well on track for its third win this season.

Winning the Formula E will be yet another feather in the cap for the company. Benz has been in motorsport racing since the Grand Prix of 1923, but Mercedes actually won the 1914 Grand Prix in France. The two companies merged in 1926, each bringing a rich history of racing with them to join hands and form one of the most formidable teams in Grand Prix, and subsequently as a powertrain supplier for its descendant, Formula One.

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