Motor Sport

Getting on the race roster

September 18 - 24, 2019

Gulf Weekly Naman Arora
By Naman Arora

Gulf Weekly Getting on the race roster

German automaker Mercedes-Benz is set to make history in the opening round of the 2019/20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship in Saudi Arabia in late November with two electric cars.

After 125 years of motorsport history, the Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team Silver Arrow 01 cockpits will be occupied by former-Formula 1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne and current FIA Formula 2 championship leader Nyck de Vries.

Ian James, team principal, said: “In Stoffel and Nyck, we have recruited two formidable and adaptable drivers who can continue to learn and grow with us in our debut season in Formula E.

“We know that Formula E is very different from any other series we have ever competed in. We are doing everything we can to achieve success, but we know that we have a steep learning curve ahead of us.”

In its debut season, the team will draw on the knowledge and combined motorsport expertise of the Mercedes family. The electric powertrain has been designed and developed at Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) in Brixworth, UK which is the Daimler Group’s global centre of excellence for high-performance hybrid technology. Brixworth also continue to develop the hybrid power units with which the German automaker has achieved the Formula 1 championship double in each of the past five years.

HWA AG, the Affalterbach-based motorsport specialists who gained experience from last seasons with its own team HWA RACELAB, will be responsible for managing the vehicles during race weekend. The Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team also receives support from the reigning Formula 1 constructor’s champions, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, at Brackley.

James added: “The collaboration between Affalterbach, Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart is going to be hugely important. Fortunately for us, the experts who develop our Formula E powertrain have already accumulated a great deal of experience with Formula 1 hybrid power units. This knowledge transfer is helping us immensely, but Formula E is a completely different challenge, and we shouldn’t underestimate that fact.”

Vandoorne is delighted to be joining Mercedes especially after his rookie year with HWA RACELAB.

“I’ve already gained experience of the series racing for HWA last year,” said Vandoorne. “I am very pleased to have now become an official member of the Mercedes family. The arrival of Mercedes on the scene is a great opportunity for all of us. The car looks fantastic. I am looking forward to seeing what we can achieve as a team. The potential is huge, and I simply can’t wait to get started.”

De Vries is about to commence his debut season in Formula E. With four races still remaining in the 2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship, he currently leads the drivers’ standings. The final round is scheduled to take place as part of the support programme to the Formula 1 season finale in Abu Dhabi one week after his Formula E debut.

“Formula E is a great platform that has already established itself as one of the biggest and most professional racing series outside Formula 1,” said de Vries. “Essentially, Mercedes are aiming to be contenders for race wins and championship trophies. Hopefully, this will happen sooner rather than later. But until then, the team and I expect a steep learning curve before we can become truly competitive.”

While all teams use a standard-issue chassis, the Gen2 racing car deployed in Formula E has a design that is unique in motorsport. The first all-electric Mercedes racing car saw the light of day at the International Motor Show in Geneva in early March of this year. Later that month, the car went for its first track outing at Varano in Italy. Further test drives took place over the next few months in Italy and Mallorca.

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