McLaren Is Adding a Formula E Program

·2 min read
Photo credit: Europa Press Sports - Getty Images
Photo credit: Europa Press Sports - Getty Images

McLaren, long a Formula 1 stalwart and a volume supercar maker for over a decade, has been adding a lot of new racing programs in recent years. There's Arrow McLaren SP, the two-car IndyCar program led by star driver Pato O'Ward. There's the Extreme E electric off-roading program, managed by legendary former Audi engineer Leena Gade as part of a corporate partnership with Multimatic. And, as of next season, there's a McLaren Formula E now, too.

Just over a year after signing a deal that gave McLaren an official option to join the series, the legendary racing team has officially announced plans to join the grid ahead of the 2022-2023 season. The program will be a direct continuation of the championship-winning Mercedes EQ operation, which would have otherwise closed at the end of this season. That program currently leads the Formula E team and drivers championships, two titles it took last year. While Mercedes will not continue to provide its successful drivetrain components to McLaren, the team will retain team principal Ian James and, with him, much of its existing structure.

The business model is similar to what McLaren did in IndyCar. While their first foray into IndyCar racing was a sponsorship deal with Andretti Autosport, their second was an attempt to start their own team with a one-off at the Indianapolis 500 for Fernando Alonso. That ended in disaster, with the team missing the field in bump day qualifying. McLaren then pivoted to what was first a partnership with the existing Schmidt Petersen Motorsports, then shortly afterward purchased a majority stake in the team. That program has since proven to be a winning formula, with lead driver O'Ward even having a shot at a championship in the season's final race last year. McLaren will hope their continuity with a previously-successful team will work out in Formula E when they debut later this year.

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