Mercedes took "massive risk" not to delay new FE powertrain

The delayed start to the 2020-21 Formula E season has enabled Mercedes to take a "massive risk" with its new powertrain despite a temporary "100%" team shutdown

Mercedes took "massive risk" not to delay new FE powertrain

Mercedes will debut a heavily evolved powertrain for its second works campaign in the series. Under revised cost-saving homologation regulations it will be retained for two years.

But it has been revealed that Mercedes originally intended to start the inbound 2020-21 FE season with its design from last season, which carried it to third in the teams' standings.

The delay was in deference to a temporary closure of the FE team while the High Performance Powertrains site at Brixworth was repurposed to manufacturer UCL-Ventura breathing aids for COVID patients.

However, with the first draft of the FE calendar featuring a 16 January start in Santiago rather than the late November/early December date for the opening round as used previously, it allowed Mercedes to bring forward the introduction of its new powertrain.

Team principal Ian James told Autosport: "There was a lot of discussion when the COVID pandemic struck about how we were going to approach that.

"Originally, Brixworth never shut down. But we completely repurposed everything.

"The Formula E programme stopped 100% and we focused on the [respiratory machines].

"It wasn't until much later that we restarted.

"Had the calendar not shifted about, we would have in all likelihood started with the season six powertrain.

"But we had that postponement at the start of the season.

James added that speeding up the arrival of the new set-up was a "massive risk".

He said: "We looked at each other in the whites of the eyes and said 'what do we really want to start with?'.

"We felt we had an opportunity with the season seven power unit to take a step forward.

"Obviously, you want to realise that as soon as you possibly can.

"But it was a massive risk and we'll see whether that's paid off or not."

James also said that the new car is an "evolution" of last season's Silver Arrow 01 but clarified that there had been wholesale upgrades to the package for 2021.

He told Autosport: "Conceptually, [the new powertrain] is an evolution.

"But there isn't really any component part we haven't touched and redesigned and gone at again.

"That's really born from the fact that when you're working that concept, we had started on the season seven power unit before we'd even turned a wheel in anger in season six.

"You're laying out that groundwork really very early on.

"So it is a completely new power unit that we're bringing for season seven."

shares
comments
Organisers confirm Saudi Arabia Formula E opener is set to go ahead

Previous article

Organisers confirm Saudi Arabia Formula E opener is set to go ahead

Next article

Jani explains oversteer problems with Porsche chassis in sole FE season

Jani explains oversteer problems with Porsche chassis in sole FE season
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula E
Teams Mercedes
Author Matt Kew
How Vergne and Vandoorne found redemption in Rome Plus

How Vergne and Vandoorne found redemption in Rome

Another Formula E double-header, another double dose of frantic action. While the form guide remains unpredictable following fightback wins for Jean-Eric Vergne and Stoffel Vandoorne in Rome, the speed and consistency of Mercedes – both on and off the track – could have its rivals worried for what is to follow

Formula E
Apr 12, 2021
What Nissan's commitment to Gen3 reveals about Formula E's future Plus

What Nissan's commitment to Gen3 reveals about Formula E's future

Formula E's Gen3 era grid continues to take shape, after Nissan opted to commit to the series for another four years. Nissan's global chief operating officer explains why it has thrown its lot in with FE while other high-profile marques have decided to call it quits

Formula E
Mar 24, 2021
Why the new Formula E season got off to such a controversial start Plus

Why the new Formula E season got off to such a controversial start

With the new Formula E season belatedly getting underway in Saudi Arabia, the championship appeared to try to make up for lost time with an overspill of action and controversy on and off the track. While some talking points could have serious repercussions, it was an explosive opener for many reasons

Formula E
Mar 1, 2021
How Andretti is planning for life after BMW Plus

How Andretti is planning for life after BMW

Michael Andretti's team is a Formula E ever-present and that's not about to change despite BMW's forthcoming exit. But, with both its drivers contracted to the German giant and McLaren weighing up a possible entry, some key decisions lie ahead

Formula E
Feb 26, 2021
The eight major plotlines to watch in Formula E 2021 Plus

The eight major plotlines to watch in Formula E 2021

The delayed 2020-21 Formula E season gets underway this week with a double-header in Saudi Arabia. The testing times were too close to call a favourite, but that's not the only area of interest to follow as the championship enters a crucial year

Formula E
Feb 25, 2021
Why Formula E's 2021 season will be a crucial litmus test Plus

Why Formula E's 2021 season will be a crucial litmus test

As off-track politics threatens to overshadow events on it, the upcoming Formula E season is perhaps its most important since the championship's inception. And that's a shame, given that the focus should be on what promises to be its closest title fight yet

Formula E
Feb 24, 2021
How Mercedes and Porsche can avoid a difficult second FE album Plus

How Mercedes and Porsche can avoid a difficult second FE album

DS Techeetah remains FE's benchmark outfit, but it can expect a stiff challenge this year from two German automotive giants in their second seasons as full manufacturer entries. Here's how Mercedes and Porsche are doubling down to bridge the gap

Formula E
Feb 17, 2021
The magnificent seven Brits fighting for FE bragging rights Plus

The magnificent seven Brits fighting for FE bragging rights

A record seven British drivers will contest Formula E this season, including two squads with all-British lineups. But before they can consider challenging DS Techeetah for the crown, each must lead their teams' recovery to the top

Formula E
Feb 15, 2021