The new managing director of Mercedes-Benz Formula E Ltd., the newly-founded company that will run the manufacturer’s first ever all-electric motorsport program, has outlined some of the team’s preparation plans.
Ian James, who has worked for Daimler since 2005 when he started as a production planner for the German manufacturer, joined MBFE last October and has been on-site at every race so far this season.
James says that he was instantly attracted to the position after first working in motorsport for the Mercedes High Performance Powertrain division in the UK in 2011-15, as head of program management for the Formula 1 operation.
“When this opportunity came up it was too good to miss,” James told e-racing365 about his new role.
“It is a fairly unique opportunity to start off and get Mercedes in to this branch of the sport for the first time.”
According to James, the structure of the Mercedes EQ Formula E team will be spread across several bases, including the Mercedes F1 headquarters in Brackley, the HPP base in Brixworth, HWA in Affalterbach and its marketing and communications capabilities in Stuttgart.
“In terms of the final team [personnel] structure that is something we are still working on and we have some time around that, but as we get in testing more we will crystalize that and announce it later,” James explained.
James appraised the initial run of the Mercedes test and development car in Italy last month as “very positive”.
“It’s one of those things when you take a car outside of the box you not entirely sure how it will all work together, especially because you have those distinct pockets of expertise around the Mercedes organisation,” he said.
“It was very positive and you could see from the mileage that we accumulated in just a few days that it went well.
“One thing we have learned this season with the HWA involvement is just how complex this series is, so we don’t underestimate the challenge ahead but it has been a good step in the right direction so far.”
Wolff Involved in Driver Selection Discussions
Regarding drivers for the team’s debut later this year, James said that Toto Wolff, who holds the position of CEO of MBFE, does have a role in contributing to the final selection.
“At the moment there is still time,” said James. “I’m clear in my mind of what the general ingredients should look like with the drivers.
“It has been great this season to observe Gary [Paffett] and Stoffel [Vandoorne] in their first seasons in Formula E.
“We are using Toto’s experience as well and talking to his regularly about it and we will start to form our opinions over the next few months and then announce our decisions at a later date.”
Vandoorne is expected to spearhead the team next season, while HWA Racelab boss Ulrich Fritz recently told e-racing365 that it was too soon to describe Edoardo Mortara as a favorite to partner the Belgian.