In an interview with CNN’s Supercharged, Ian James, Managing Director of the Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E team, discussed the pressure to succeed ahead of its debut in the 2019/20 season of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.
Speaking before the Berlin E-Prix this weekend, James spoke on whether he expected the team to be competitive from the start and the pressure to succeed following their sister team’s recent domination of Formula 1.
As the first brand to participate in both championships, James addresses questions on whether their investment in the all-electric motorsport will be at the expense of their Formula 1 team, but also how their road car division can benefit.
On the pressure to succeed following Mercedes’ record in Formula 1:
“In terms of our journey now into Formula E, I think we are mindful of the success that Mercedes-Benz has achieved in Formula 1. But we’re also very clear on the fact that this is a totally different series with its own unique challenges as well.”
On whether he expects Mercedes to be competitive from the start:
“I think in terms of success, in terms of the expectations that Mercedes is going to place on the team, I think we’re realistic. It’s not a sport or a series where we can expect anybody to be absolutely dominant. For that reason we’re approaching this with a good dose of humility and respect for the other teams.”
On whether Mercedes’ involvement in Formula E is at the expense of their Formula 1 team:
“There’s a lot of questions about whether Formula 1 and Formula E can co-exist, especially within Mercedes. We’re the only brand currently in both series. You’ve got track racing with Formula 1 and all the heritage that goes with that. You’ve got the exciting world of Formula E, that really is city-centre based and has a different focus at its heart, not just in terms of electric vs hybrid. We have an ideal opportunity to really take advantage of both series.”
On how Mercedes can benefit in their road car division from their involvement in Formula E:
“We announced that Mercedes-Benz as an organisation has a target of becoming carbon neutral by 2039. Now obviously Formula E offers us a platform not only to communicate that but I think as a team we want to set the target of really being the benchmark in the way that we approach that going forward as well.”