You could say that, for Mercedes, Formula E will be a bit of an adventure at first. No other vehicle manufacturer in the world was more successful on the racetrack this millennium. Five Formula 1 world championships in a row, the most titles in the history of the DTM – these are all achievements that set standards. How does one go about transitioning to the power of silence from the thunderous sound of hybrid engines?
Neon lights reflect off the grey, antistatic, spit-and-polish floor of the HWA Racelab garage. A casual club sound echoes throughout the practically empty workshop. In a minimalistic ambience, the HWA team is getting Mercedes ready for its Formula E debut. “Lately,” one of the employees says, “it feels like we’ve taken these cars apart and put them back together again every day.” The parts will later be packed into flat, white metal boxes and travel with the Formula E entourage for the next six months. Six and a half tonnes in all.
Franco Chiocchetti, 44, has been the head of Formula E Track Operations at HWA in Affalterbach, since last March. The first year promises a “soft entry”, he says. “That will eliminate some of the pressure. We want to size up the new competition first.” What a novel concept: the champions as apprentices.