Toto Wolff says by signing an agreement with Formula E to reserve an option to possibly enter the series in 2018-19 it allows Mercedes to fully assess the all-electric championship's 'suitability' in its future plans.
The Mercedes head of motorsport has confirmed a written agreement between the German manufacturer and Formula E to see it take up one of the two spots available to become potential new teams for the fifth season of the series in 2018-19.
If Mercedes were to join the Formula E grid it would need the backing of all existing teams including manufacturer rivals Audi, Renault, Mahindra, Jaguar and Citroen-DS while BMW recently strengthened its ties with Andretti.
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Wolff says he's been impressed by the early success of Formula E – which is set for the second round of its third season with a maiden Marrakech ePrix on the same weekend as the F1 Brazilian Grand Prix – and Mercedes' decision on whether to join the series could depend on the development of electric technology in motorsport and how it translates to production cars.
“It's an exciting new series that has come up against all odds and is doing quite okay,” Wolff said. “Electrification is not going to go away on the road and we don't know where it's going to go on the race track.
“There is a large hybrid and electric part in an F1 car already and we are serious in looking at it. We haven't spent time in the past looking at Formula E properly, but by signing the option it gives us an opportunity to look at things and find out whether it is something suitable for us going forward.
“You can see there is an interest from many other manufacturers in this series and that is logical if you are looking at what is happening in road car technology.”
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Feeling the effects of its emissions scandal from 2015, the Volkswagen Group has recently scaled back its motorsport efforts by withdrawing its full Audi LMP1 programme from the World Endurance Championship to 'concentrate on Formula E', while the Volkswagen Motorsport team will exit the World Rally Championship at the end of 2016.
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