Mercedes-Benz has announced that it will enter Formula E for the 2019/20 season and will withdraw from DTM at the end 2018. The company said that it wants to be “the benchmark in the premium segment and also explore innovative new projects and with Formula 1 and Formula E we have achieved exactly this balance”.
The deal to extend the option for an entry in 2019 was requested to allow the company to properly understand the series and make suitable preparations.
The withdrawal from DTM is a major blow for the series, which will be left with only 12 cars, six from BMW and six from Audi, unless other manufacturers can be convinced to take part in the series. Mercedes has played a central role in the championship since it was set up in 1984. This became the FIA International Touring Car Series in 1996 but this was a total failure and the DTM was revised in 2000. Three years later Hans-Werner Aufrecht, the then boss of AMG, was the founder of Internationale Tourenwagen Rennen eV, the organisation that sanctions DTM races. When AMG was acquired by Mercedes, Aufrecht set up HWA to run the Mercedes entries in DTM. He remained chairman until earlier this year when he stood down and was replaced by Gerhard Berger.
The current DTM championship started with Mercedes, Audi and Opel between 2000 and 2005 but then the last-named withdrew and the series had to survive with two manufacturers until BMW came into the series in 2012. Mercedes has won nine DTM constructor titles, but the last was in 2010, since when BMW and Audi have won three apiece. In terms of driver championships, Mercedes has won seven, the most recent being in 2015 with Pascal Wehrlein.