McLaren considering Formula E team entry once battery contract ends

McLaren is evaluating a possible team entry to Formula E with the new Gen3 car once its existing battery contract comes to an end

McLaren considering Formula E team entry once battery contract ends

McLaren Applied Technologies has supplied Formula E with the battery system used on its Gen2 cars since 2018, with its deal set to run until the start of the 2022-23 season.

Earlier this year, the FIA awarded Williams Advanced Engineering with the battery contract for the Gen3 cars, which are targeted to reduce in weight by 120kg and increase the power output to 350kW.

McLaren has involvement in racing series beyond Formula 1, including IndyCar, and is keeping its options open for the future with a particular focus on the World Endurance Championship and Formula E.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown explained on Saturday that once it was no longer precluded from entering a team to Formula E from 2022-23, joining the grid was a possibility.

"We've been precluded from competing in Formula E because we were the battery supplier, so within that FIA tender, we're not allowed to compete as a team," Brown said.

"With the new generation car coming in 2023, and us no longer being the exclusive battery supplier, that's a racing series that we find very interesting.

"That's something that we are starting to look at more closely."

Formula E has raced with a full grid since the start of the 2019-20 season, featuring 12 teams, but will have two free slots from next year after BMW and Audi recently confirmed they would exit the series after Season 7.

Asked by Autosport if the exits were a warning sign or an opportunity for McLaren, Brown said it was both.

"There weren't any spots available, so it has created an opportunity, so that's a positive," Brown said.

"Any time teams or manufacturers leave a series, you have to ask why. Audi has announced they are going with the car in LMDh, so with them being in the same family as Porsche, and Porsche being in [Formula E], maybe their strategy is Porsche do that, and Audi should be somewhere else.

"With the budget cap that's coming in in Formula E, it started off being very inexpensive, and then it skyrocketed, which is what happens. Now it looks like they're going to cap that quickly before it further grows.

"Having 10 teams, that's still a very strong field. I see it more as an opportunity. It's deep with manufacturer support, so I'm ultimately not concerned.

"But you do have to get to the bottom of why they left."

After one-off bids to enter the Indianapolis 500 in 2017 and 2019, McLaren moved into IndyCar full-time through 2020, linking up with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports to form Arrow McLaren SP.

Brown said any possible entry to either WEC or Formula E would be approached in a similar fashion, ensuring it does not impact its F1 programme.

"Those two series have our attention, and we want to get through this season, we want to make sure that anything we do is not a distraction to our Formula 1 efforts," Brown said.

"We layered In IndyCar, and I think we've had a very successful year after a bumpy start in 2019. Those two are something that we're looking at.

"[It is] the same criteria that we have on IndyCar: do we think we can be competitive? Do we think it's commercially and fiscally sustainable? Do we think it fits our brand?

"I think both those series tick all those boxes, so it's all about layering them in from a timing perspective, if we're going to do either."

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Series Formula E
Author Luke Smith
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