As part of a strategic repositioning of its motorsport activities to focus on Formula One and Formula E, the company will conclude its participation in DTM at the end of 2018 and enter Formula E in the 2019-20 season.
Since the DTM was founded in 1988, there have been 26 racing seasons during which Mercedes-Benz has won 10 drivers’, 13 team and six manufacturer titles. The company’s impending exit will leave DTM with just two manufacturers in the form of Audi and BMW.
Earlier this month, Mercedes announced that Petronas had signed a multi-year extension to its title sponsorship of its Formula One team. Mercedes made the announcement amid growing speculation that the team could quit Formula One at the end of the 2018 season, when Petronas’ deal was due to end.
Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, said: “Our years in the DTM will always be held high as a major chapter in the motorsport history of Mercedes. 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.”
Wolff added: “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 One 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 - and to do so with a completely new kind of racing, different to any other series. I am pleased that we were able to extend our entry option for one year to the 2019-20 season. This gives us time to properly understand the series and to prepare for our entry in the right way.”
Mercedes follows in the footsteps of fellow German manufacturers Audi and BMW in committing to Formula E. BMW this month confirmed that it will join Formula E as an official manufacturer. BMW will enter Formula E for season five in 2018-19, partnering with Andretti to develop a new powertrain for the US team.
Audi will begin competing in Formula E with full works status from the 2017-18 season, taking over the entry previously held by Abt Sportsline. Audi will operate under the Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler banner, with Schaeffler to remain as technology partner and Abt to continue running the racing team.