Questions over McLaren Formula E driver pairing

Nyck de Vries (left) and Stoffel Vandoorne

McLaren’s acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ team for the 2022-23 Formula E world championship has brought with it a host of questions regarding its future.

Mercedes is set to pull out of Formula E competition at the end of the current campaign after winning both the drivers’ and teams’ championships last season.

Nyck de Vries won last year’s world title, while team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne heads this year’s standings at the midway point.

On the surface, the Ian James-led operation will next year do little more than change name as McLaren takes control of the squad.

However, questions such as where it will be based from and whether the current driver pairing will remain are still unanswered.

Vandoorne and de Vries are both understood to be contracted to the broader Mercedes brand rather than the Formula E team specifically, with the latter linked with a move into Formula 1.

“First and foremost, if I look towards Season 8 at the moment, and the set-up that we’ve got currently, we’re very, very fortunate to have the driver line-up that we have got,” James said when Speedcafe.com asked if the current pairing would be available to McLaren next season.

“As we can see, they’re performing incredibly well at the moment.

“One of the great things about Formula E as a series over really the past few years, but especially if I look at it now, we’ve got such a strong driver line-up across the paddock.

“We’re being very conscientious in terms of our approach to making sure that we’ve got the most performance package possible going forward,” he added.

“So of course, Stoffel and Nyck are a part of that discussion, that list, in terms of the drivers that we’re going to be going forward with in Season 9.”

Moving forward, the team will have little connection to Mercedes beyond its history.

While McLaren is a customer of the German brand for its Formula 1 power units, that relationship served only to facilitate negotiations and there is no deeper relationship in the all-electric championship.

“As far as Mercedes, there’s no real connectivity there in the sense of they’re also our power unit provider in Formula 1,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown when asked about the relationship by Speedcafe.com.

“We have a very healthy relationship with them, and so I think that made the transaction easier given that we do have a relationship.

“And also I’d like to give a lot of credit to Formula E and Alejandro [Agag, Formula E founder] specifically, for being intimately involved in helping facilitate the partnership.

“One of the things that’s very attractive to us about Formula E is the leadership there, and the engagement that they have, and the support that they provide to the teams.

“A lot of work went on behind the scenes here with Alejandro and Jamie [Reigle, Formula E CEO] to help facilitate where we are today.”

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