Mercedes annonce son arrivée pour la saison 6 de la Formule E

Bien plus qu’un repositionnement de ses activités en sport auto. Il s’agit d’un tournant. Mercedes annonce son engagement en Formule E à partir de la saison 6 (2019/2020). Conséquence de cette importante annonce, la fin de son engagement en DTM  fin 2018 après avoir remporté 10 titres Pilotes, 13 Equipes et 6 au championnat Constructeurs, soit un total de 183 victoires. En revanche, l’aventure de Mercedes en F1 continue. Avec son fameux duo Hamilton-Rosberg, la marque à l’étoile a enlevé tous les titres pilotes et constructeurs depuis le début de l’ère des V6 turbo hybrides en 2014.

Bonne nouvelle donc pour la Formule E qui accueille un nouveau constructeur de poids, et pas n’importe lequel. La marque allemande, qui avait déjà une option pour une arrivée lors de la saison 5, sera présente en Formule E pour la saison 6. Pour des raisons économiques, marketing et technologiques, la firme de Stuttgart ne pouvait pas manquer ce virage électrique. Très clairement les constructeurs comptent surfer sur la Formule E pour promouvoir leur véhicules électriques, à l’image de la gamme EQ Power de Mercedes. Et s’appuyer sur la Formule E c’est se servir d’un championnat du monde qui véhicule une image positive, qui joue pleinement le jeu des réseaux sociaux dans sa communication et qui demeure un formidable laboratoire technologique.

Toto Wolff, le directeur de la compétition de Mercedes, déclare : « Dans le sport automobile, comme dans tous les autres domaines, nous voulons être la référence dans le segment premium et explorer aussi de nouveaux projets innovants. Avec la Formule 1 et la Formule E, nous avons réalisé exactement cet équilibre. La Formule E c’est comme une start-up passionnante: elle offre un nouveau format afin de promouvoir les technologies actuelles et futures. L’électrification concerne les voitures de série, la Formule E offre aux constructeurs une plateforme intéressante pour amener cette technologie vers un nouveau public, et nous pouvons le faire avec un tout nouveau type de course, différent de toute autre série. Je suis ravi que nous puissions étendre notre option d’entrée pour un an vers la saison 2019/2020. Cela nous donne le temps de bien comprendre la série et de bien préparer notre entrée ».

La discipline née en septembre 2014 séduit de plus en plus. Rappelons le contexte de cette annonce de Mercedes : il y a Audi qui vient de racheter Abt Schaeffler, et BMW qui, de son coté, fournira un moteur à l’équipe Andretti. On peut clairement faire un parallèle avec une autre marque allemande, Audi, qui, à partir de 2017, quittait le WEC pour concentrer ses efforts sur la Formule E tout en continuant en DTM. Les marques répondent donc favorablement à l’appel de la Formula E : ce fut le cas avant Mercedes de Renault, DS, Audi, BMW, Mahindra, Venturi et, à partir de la saison 3, de Jaguar. Et pour cause, le championnat tout électrique de la FIA représente in fine l’essence même de ce que devrait être le sport auto : l’aventure technologique par excellence et un laboratoire pour les voitures de séries, tout en étant enthousiasmant sur plusieurs aspects : la Formule E est un championnat crée de toutes pièces en moins de deux ans, où tout est à inventer et qui propose des courses très ouvertes. Son but principal restant de rendre crédible le développement de voitures électriques et hybrides.

Bien loin des 67 ans de la F1, et du haut de ses 3 ans, la Formule E est bien née et aura largement le temps de faire taire les critiques comme le changement de monoplace à mi course ou le relatif manque de puissance : en effet, à partir de la saison 5, les batteries seront suffisamment autonomes pour que le pilote puisse conserver la même voiture pendant toute la course, avec un gain de performance attendu entre 2 et 5 secondes au tour. Avec toutes ces avancées la Formule E passera un cap. Un basculement dans une nouvelle ère symbolisé par l’arrivée de Mercedes en 2019.

Et si les constructeurs semblent séduits, c’est aussi le cas des villes avec, parmi les cités organisatrices de e-prix, certaines grandes capitales internationales et villes iconiques comme New-York, Paris, Montreal, Berlin, Monaco, Londres, Moscou, Mexico, Buenos Aires ou encore Hong Kong, sans oublier Sao Paulo ou Rome qui rejoindront le calendrier dès la saison 4. Même attrait du côté des pilotes, avec un tiers de la grille de départ composée d’anciens titulaires de la F1 comme Sebastien Buemi, Nelson Piquet Jr, Nick Heidfeld ou Jean-Eric Vergne. Le plateau pilotes semble de plus en plus relevé.

Les regards se tournent désormais vers Ferrari. Ira-t-elle ou pas en Formule E ? En mars 2017 le Président de Ferrari Sergio Marchionne a fait un pas vers un engagement en Formule E et déclarait : « Nous devons être impliqués en Formula E car l’électrique à travers différentes formules hybrides jouera un rôle clé dans le futur. Le défi est de tirer profit de l’hybridation, non seulement en termes de réduction d’émissions de carbone mais aussi en termes de performance. Nous avons déjà développé un supercar hybride, LaFerrari, et il est clair que l’électrification jouera un rôle prépondérant dans les futurs modèles Ferrari »

 

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