McLaren buying out Mercedes Formula E team, joining in 2023

Published: 16 May 2022

► McLaren to join in 2022/2023 season
► Will debut with new Gen3 car
► Buying out the Mercede
s EQ Formula E team

McLaren is joining Formula E next year, and it’ll be buying the outgoing Mercedes EQ team to do it. The announcement came during the Berlin ePrix double-header, and builds on the team’s increasingly ubiquitous presence in motorsport; you’ll soon find papaya orange in GT racing, eSports, Extreme E, Formula One, IndyCar and Formula E. Importantly, three of those are electrified.

When will McLaren join? 

The Woking team will enter the 2022/2023 season, which is the ninth season of the all-electric series – and the first to use the new Gen 3 car. Essentially shaped like a block of brie, the new spec car’s awful form hides some important tech; it’ll be both faster and more efficient than the current car. 

The news follows a register of interest in early 2021, and should also see the current team principal, Ian James, stay on to ensure a smooth transition. Details of a driver line-up haven’t been announced yet, but with Stoffel Vandoorne leading the championship and Nyck de Vries the reigning champion, you wouldn’t expect Woking to tamper too much. 

Becoming part of the McLaren Racing family is a privilege: McLaren has always been synonymous with success and high-performance. This is a great moment for all parties involved but, above all, for the people that make up this team,’ said James.

‘I’m very much looking forward for this next chapter for the team and will be a proud member of it in Season 9. Until then, we will be focused on delivering the best results possible as the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, for the remainder of the current season.’

The business case

When quizzed about Formula E, McLaren CEO Zak Brown has always stated the team would enter if the financial, technological, and sporting criteria made sense. And purchasing a championship-winning team with works R&D is surely the best way in – just ask Mercedes.

‘McLaren Racing always seeks to compete against the best and on the leading edge of technology, providing our fans, partners and people with new ways to be excited, entertained and inspired. Formula E, like all our racing series, fulfils all those criteria,’ said Brown.

‘As with all forms of the sport we participate in, Formula E has racing at the centre but will be strategically, commercially, and technically additive to McLaren Racing overall. 

Getting an edge

What’s more, the Formula E’s focus on battery technology and efficiency also plays into Formula One’s long-rumoured new engine rules. Alongside an increase in biofuel percentage, the new cars could also benefit from an increased amount of hybrid power – tech certainly linked to Formula E. 

‘I firmly believe that Formula E will give McLaren Racing a competitive advantage through greater understanding of EV racing, while providing a point of difference to our fans, partners and people, and continuing to drive us along our sustainability pathway,’ added Brown.

Is McLaren spreading itself too thinly, and will it have immediate success – or be like the Mercedes F1 team in 2010? Sound off in the comments.

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast