Mercedes launches FE team and reveals Vandoorne/de Vries as drivers

Mercedes has launched its ABB FIA Formula E squad, while also unveiling Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries as its drivers and the livery of its Silver Arrow 01 car

Mercedes launches FE team and reveals Vandoorne/de Vries as drivers

The new team was officially revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show, where Mercedes also confirmed Ian James - head of programme management at Mercedes High Performance Powertrains from 2011-15 - as its FE team principal.

James is also the managing director of Mercedes-Benz Formula E Ltd, of which Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff is CEO.

The new squad will make its debut in the upcoming 2019/20 FE campaign, where it will take over the entry previously assigned to the HWA team that competed as a Venturi customer last season.

Mercedes' first FE powertrain has been developed by the same HPP operation that built the V6 hybrid Formula 1 engines that powered its run to five consecutive double world titles.

The new FE operation will be supported by Mercedes' Brackley-based F1 squad, while HWA will continue to run its cars on race weekends and assemble them at its Affalterbach facility.

Ex-McLaren F1 driver Vandoorne has been carried over to the Mercedes works FE squad after racing in the 2018/19 season with HWA.

Vandoorne told Autosport he was "very happy to officially be part of the Mercedes family".

"[This] last year I was also doing some simulator work for the F1 team," he continued.

"But definitely [I'm] now official [for Mercedes] now in FE, and I think that's very exciting."

De Vries, who like Vandoorne was formerly a McLaren junior driver, is the current Formula 2 points leader with ART Grand Prix.

He has previously tested Audi's Gen2 FE machine and drove for Envision Virgin Racing at the Marrakech rookie test last season.

"I'm still in my F2 season and the FE season will actually start before the end of the F2 season, which is a bit rare, with a lot of different commitments," said de Vries, who will make his FE debut in Saudi Arabia on November 22-23 a week before the Abu Dhabi F2 season finale.

"But it's a great opportunity and I'm very thankful for the opportunity from Mercedes."

Autosport understands that Vandoorne's 2018/19 HWA FE team-mate Gary Paffett will continue to work with Mercedes' FE set-up as a sporting and driver advisor.

Mercedes has been preparing for its FE debut by conducting its manufacturer-allocated private testing programme of 15 days since March.

It has until the end of October to get its first FE powertrain homologated by the FIA, which will follow its first official on-track appearance at the group test at Valencia on October 15-18.

The team has been using the Varano and Mallorca circuits for its private testing, with Vandoorne completing "most" of the running alongside de Vries and Paffett, as well as Mercedes-affiliated drivers Edoardo Mortara and Esteban Gutierrez.

Mercedes' FE entry will be its first new motorsport programme since it left the DTM at the end of 2018.

It initially secured a berth for the 2018/19 season, which eventually went to HWA so it could conduct a learning campaign for Mercedes.

"From that point where the decision [to leave the DTM for FE in 2017] had been taken and communicated, it really hasn't stopped since then," said James.

"So, the development of the powertrain itself with HPP in Brixworth started very early on.

"We've got the experience of F1 on the KERS and then the ERS system, but this is taking it to another dimension.

"It's been a challenging timeline, I have to say.

"Coming into it new and fresh now, I don't think we've got the answers to all the questions and it's going to be an exciting time for us over the next few months."

shares
comments
The giant rookie doing FE its own way

Previous article

The giant rookie doing FE its own way

Next article

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff: I didn't believe Formula E could make it

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff: I didn't believe Formula E could make it
Load comments
The Formula E 'loan' deal that will keep its original missionary winning Plus

The Formula E 'loan' deal that will keep its original missionary winning

OPINION: The departure of Audi from Formula E meant its long-time driver Lucas di Grassi would need to find a new berth to stay on the grid. His deal at Venturi Racing will ensure the championship's first-ever race winner will remain competitive into the final year of the current Gen2 ruleset - although it may not be a long-term fit

Formula E
Sep 15, 2021
The problems laid bare by Mercedes' impending Formula E departure Plus

The problems laid bare by Mercedes' impending Formula E departure

Mercedes' planned withdrawal from Formula E at the end of the 2022 season will contribute to the big hole left by fellow automotive manufacturers Audi and BMW on their departures. Although the team may stick around under a different guise, the exit of the now-reigning teams' champion underlines FE's current issues...

Formula E
Aug 18, 2021
The F1 dilemma facing Mercedes' new world champion Plus

The F1 dilemma facing Mercedes' new world champion

After clinching the Formula E title at the Berlin finale, Nyck de Vries is a driver in demand. Although Mercedes would love to keep a reigning champion at the team, the allure of a Williams F1 drive may be too much for de Vries to ignore should a potential deal come to pass

Formula E
Aug 17, 2021
How de Vries claimed Formula E title glory as Mercedes exit bombshell looms Plus

How de Vries claimed Formula E title glory as Mercedes exit bombshell looms

As Formula E lined up to complete its seventh season at Berlin's Tempelhof Airport, all eyes were on who would be its first official FIA world champion. Despite Nyck de Vries' title lead heading into the weekend looking all but secure, the Dutchman held on - and enjoyed a good dollop of fortune - to secure a championship double for Mercedes

Formula E
Aug 16, 2021
Why a brutal title defence can still yield another Formula E crown Plus

Why a brutal title defence can still yield another Formula E crown

It hasn't been properly reflected by the points table, but Antonio Felix da Costa has been nigh-on flawless in his Formula E title defence in 2021. Returning to the scene of his Berlin dominance in 2020, he has the chance to set the record straight and claim a remarkable against-the-odds second title

Formula E
Aug 12, 2021
Why Audi was right and wrong in Formula E's loophole row Plus

Why Audi was right and wrong in Formula E's loophole row

OPINION: With Audi's Formula E exit imminent, it had nothing to lose in London by attempting to vault Lucas di Grassi into the lead by pitting him under the safety car. Scorn directed at the team for putting glory before ethics should instead be pointed at a rulebook that allowed such a move in the first place

Formula E
Jul 27, 2021
Why Formula E's London return delivered anarchy in the UK Plus

Why Formula E's London return delivered anarchy in the UK

Formula E landed for a London E-Prix for the first time since 2016, at the indoor-outdoor circuit around the ExCeL. Featuring the birth of renewed title pushes, a long-awaited maiden win and the second race's controversy, the round proved to be an exhibition of the electric series' anarchic nature

Formula E
Jul 26, 2021
Why consistency can't be relied upon for Formula E title success Plus

Why consistency can't be relied upon for Formula E title success

It's commonly upheld as the most straightforward method of racking up titles. But, due to the unique qualifying format used in Formula E, a consistent approach can actively work against a driver and make their life harder in races. So with four races to go, is now the time to ditch the tried-and-tested approach for a win-or-bust mentality?

Formula E
Jul 23, 2021