McLaren Racing has secured an option to race in the 2022-23 season of the Formula E World Championship, signalling an intention to expand its motorsport efforts beyond Formula 1 and Indycar.
The move comes as part of McLaren’s “ongoing evaluation of potential new motorsport platforms” and follows Audi and BMW announcing their departure from the all-electric single-seater series.
The ninth season, beginning in 2022, will mark the beginning of Formula E’s Gen3 era. This will usher in lighter, more powerful cars, faster charging and revamped regulations with the aim of making the racing more competitive and exciting to watch, as well as “reinforcing the business case” for teams and manufacturers.
McLaren’s technology division, McLaren Applied, has been the sole battery provider for Formula E cars since 2018 and thus prohibited from entering as a team. This contract will expire at the end of the 2021-22 season, but it's unclear whether such a relationship could continue if McLaren Racing were a competing team.
McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said: “We’ve been closely observing Formula E for some time and monitoring the series’ progress and future direction.
“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.”
McLaren Racing is now part-owned by US sports investment group MSP Sports Capital, which recently took a 15% share in the motorsport arm for £185 million. Brown said at the time that the substantial investment would bolster the company's "plan to return McLaren to contention for race wins and championships in Formula 1 and Indycar and will strengthen [our] positive momentum as we continue to focus relentlessly on our mission to return to the top of the podium".
A maximum of 12 teams may race in Formula E. Currently, the only team confirmed to be on the grid at the start of Season 9 is Banbury-based Mahindra Racing, which has competed since the inaugural season in 2014-15.
Manufacturers racing in the 2021 season, which will get underway on 26 February, include DS, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Nio and Nissan. Audi and BMW will also participate for the final time.