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McLaren Racing set to join Formula E

13 January 2021

McLaren Racing has signed an agreement with Formula E to allow them the option to enter the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship when Formula E’s Gen3 kicks off in Season 9 next month.

Part of McLaren Racing’s ongoing evaluation of potential new motorsport platforms, the agreement provides McLaren the option to enter the championship as one of a maximum 12 entries for the 2022/23 season.

“McLaren Racing securing an option to join the Formula E grid from Gen3 is testament to the ongoing impact of our sport,” suggested Alejandro Agag, founder and chairman of Formula E.

The agreement carries echoes of the manner in which Mercedes eased its way into the series. It offers the perfect opportunity for Formula E to bounce back from a turbulent period before Christmas that saw it rocked by the withdrawal of Audi and BMW.

Although this would mark McLaren’s first official entry into the series as a team, it has been instrumental in developing the technology that has enabled the championship to prosper.

McLaren Applied Technologies (MAT) was part of the first generation of the FIA Formula E car supply chain. It developed the Motor, Inverter and ECU for the Season1 car and the TAG400i ECU remained a widely adopted unit thereafter.

However, it was MAT’s development of the battery pack for the Gen2 car – in collaboration with Atieva, based in in Silicon Valley, and Murata – which provided Formula E with its biggest technical breakthrough.

“The scale of the task was daunting,” admitted Rodi Basso, MAT motorsport director at the time. “The state-of-the-art technology allowed us to achieve the result, but the known unknowns were quite big, so the level of risk we were undertaking was exciting and quite frightening at times!”

Williams Advanced Engineering is developing the battery for the championship’s Gen3 car, which takes to the track from the 2022/23 season. This frees McLaren to pursue the opportunity of entering a team in its own name.

“We’ve been closely observing Formula E for some time and monitoring the series’ progress and future direction,” said Zak Brown, chief executive officer of McLaren Racing. “The opportunity to take an option on an entry and the completion of the McLaren Applied supplier contract with the FIA at the end of Gen2, gives us the necessary time to decide if Formula E is right for McLaren as a future competition platform.”

Jamie Reigle, chief executive officer of Formula E. “We now look forward to working with McLaren Racing to demonstrate the sporting and commercial potential of Formula E and devise ways to elevate the series to a new level, as part of their evaluation.”

The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship will make its Season 7 debut in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia with two night races on February 26/27.

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