The ABB Formula E season seven championship-winning team could be rebranded as McLaren and run with a Nissan powertrain.
Mercedes EQ Formula E team is currently in talks with McLaren to build a prospective independent super team’ so that the defending champion team can continue in Formula E after Mercedes’ factory exit later this year.
Plans for the Mercedes team to stay in Formula E in a new avatar are virtually complete, according to The Race, and are expected to incorporate a Nissan customer powertrain to be raced starting in the 2022-23 season.
It is thought that talks between the two outfits intensified last month and may include the McLaren name in a capacity that has not yet been fully defined. However, the Brackley-based team that won both titles last year is still exploring other options, as well.
Mercedes will keep its EQ grid slot in Gen3, however, the final entry name has not been determined, with a potential McLaren-branded entity among the possibilities.
The Mercedes name will cease to exist at the end of the current 2020-21 Formula E season when the manufacturer withdraws from the electric Formula series. This comes as executives at Daimler rejected the continuation of Formula E last summer, sparking the decision to cancel the programme.
Mercedes withdrawal from Formula E started with the termination of the EQ Gen3 powertrain design program which was led by former Formula 1 technical chief Peter McCool, last August despite making significant progress. This means the team would have to find and negotiate a deal with a registered manufacturer if they wanted to continue in Gen3.
Currently, Nissan and NIO 333 are the only manufacturers without solid agreements in place to supply other teams. While NIO 333 has always had a remote potential of becoming a supplier, Nissan is currently in the process of making a deal.
Last February’s 2021 season-opener in Diriyah was the first time Mercedes EQ team principal Ian James met McLaren CEO Zak Brown, and conversations over a possible collaboration are thought to have picked up steam since last autumn.
Recently, James and other Mercedes EQ executives met with Zak Brown again to discuss a prospective partnership, and according to relevant sources the discussions were increasing last weekend in Riyadh.
“On the Formula E side, they’re [McLaren] biding their time at the moment before a final decision is made,” James said in an interview.
“I can’t talk on behalf of Zak or McLaren, they’ll no doubt be also analysing things very carefully, and then taking the appropriate decision at the right time.”
“Since that first meeting, we’ve kept in touch and have been in discussions, as we have been with other parties as well.”