Formula E Attracts Two More—Porsche And Mercedes Unveil Their Electric Racers
Whatever else can be said about Formula E, the all-electric championship in its still short existence has had considerable success in attracting big car manufacturer names. For this season, FE’s fifth, BMW joined Audi, DS, Jaguar and Nissan (which previously competed as Renault) among others. Next year, for the 2019/20 season, none other than Porsche and Mercedes join too. And both German marques have just made it all more tangible.
Porsche’s Formula E car and powertrain have just completed their first mileage on Porsche’s testing ground in Weissach in Germany, with its works driver Neel Jani behind the wheel. It reported that the run went without problems and even released a short video of the car on track including onboard footage. “The newly developed Porsche powertrain for Formula E completed its baptism of fire,” said Porsche Motorsport’s vice president Fritz Enzinger. Jani was similarly positive. “We’re breaking new ground,” he said. “Everyone in the team feels it. The project is really gaining momentum now. We didn’t push it to the limit during the rollout, but the powertrain and the car made a very good first impression overall.” Technical project leader Malte Huneke added that “seeing the car in action for the first time gave us goose bumps. Compared with production development, the demands in terms of efficiency and weight of the powertrain in Formula E are on a very different level. Now we will approach the limit one step at a time.”
Mercedes’ reveal was more sedate. It showed its Formula E car – titled the EQ Silver Arrow 01 – in public for this first time, but in a stationary form only at this week’s Geneva International Motor Show. It also was in a special ‘teaser livery’ of charcoal colors with blue lines, the latter representing the company’s ‘EQ’ electric vehicle brand. The colors the car will actually race in are to follow. HWA, which was responsible for Mercedes’ DTM cars prior to it withdrawing from the German touring car series at the end of 2018, has entered this current Formula E campaign as a prelude to Mercedes’ debut.
The FE move means Mercedes from next year will compete in the electric series alongside F1; as things stand it’s the only manufacturer doing both. It insists that participating in the two formulae will be complementary in pursuing its ultimate road car goals. “The parallel commitment to the two racing series will enable Mercedes to transfer the lessons learned in both arenas to the road,” said a Mercedes statement, “the two platforms taken together constitute an important technology driver for the entire Mercedes family and will help to shape the future of the automobile industry.” Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff upon the launch admitted that “Formula E is going to be a completely new playing field for us,” but added that “when you see the car in our teaser livery for the first time, you know that the project has entered a serious phase.”