Formula E

McLaren benefits from broad motorsport programme: "Formula E is a good business model for us"

Tobias Wirtz

Tobias Wirtz

With the takeover of the former Mercedes team, McLaren Racing has entered Formula E ahead of the 2023 season. The papaya-coloured team now has five motorsport teams: In addition to Formula E and Formula 1, the team from Woking will also compete in the IndyCar Series and Extreme E. It also has its own e-sports team. The three single-seater teams in particular are in close contact with each other.

McLaren has been firmly established in Formula 1 since the mid-1960s and has celebrated great success there: the team has won a total of 20 world championship titles in the premier class of motorsport, most recently the drivers' world championship in 2008 with Lewis Hamilton. McLaren has greatly expanded its motorsport activities, particularly in recent years. The McLaren Shadow e-sports team has been in existence since 2018. After two sporadic appearances with Fernando Alonso at the Indy 500, the team entered the US IndyCar series in 2020 and then Extreme E in 2022.

"Formula E is a good business model for us," explained McLaren CEO Zak Brown in a media roundtable that was also attended by e-Formula.news. "For example with personnel: we have people who have moved back and forth (between programmes). We try to be the most exciting racing team in the world, to give our staff lots of opportunities to move, and also to give our partners the opportunity to only be interested in certain areas."

"This creates opportunities for knowledge transfer"

"It's about knowledge transfer, but also about creating opportunities for the people at McLaren Racing," Brown continued. The McLaren employees were already on fire for the electric series more than six months before the race debut. "When we made the announcement, a lot of our people wanted to work in the Formula E team. And I'm sure there are people in the Formula E team who would love to work in Formula 1 or IndyCars."

"We know that there are great opportunities not only for our partners and our fans to get in and out of our various racing activities, but also for our employees," he says, seeing the Formula E commitment as a welcome opportunity for the company. "It creates opportunities for them and for us in terms of knowledge transfer."

James: "Unrivalled in terms of portfolio"

"Since the team was founded, we have been the only team in Formula E that is associated with a Formula 1 team," says Team Principal Ian James. "One of the things that attracted me to joining the McLaren family was that we also have Extreme E, IndyCar and E-Sport here, which is unrivalled in terms of portfolio."

"Nevertheless, the different team bosses approach things in their own way," James continues. Collaboration between the different teams is always voluntary. "I have the greatest respect for when they only want to focus on what they have to deliver and when they don't want to be disturbed by collaboration or knowledge sharing."

James: "We want to learn from each other"

"At McLaren, we are very fortunate to have team principals who are the exact opposite, Andrea Stella in Formula 1 and Gavin Ward on the IndyCar side," he says. "We want to learn from each other. I had the privilege of seeing how they work."

But the exchange also works in the other direction. Employees from both Formula 1 and IndyCar have already visited the Formula E team. "Gavin Ward has also been to Formula E. Hiroshi Imai (Director of Race Engineering) came to Formula E from Formula 1, so we have already started exchanging knowledge and you can always learn something. I think that will be a real benefit for us as an organisation and something we will continue to promote."

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