LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One race winners McLaren are to provide the engine, transmission and electronics for cars that will compete in a new Formula E electric series due to start up in 2014.
McLaren will join forces with Spark Racing Technology, led by Frenchman Frederic Vasseur, as part of a consortium to design and assemble the racecars.
“I‘m a passionate believer in the role that motorsport can play in showcasing and spearheading the development of future technologies, and regard the Formula E concept as an exciting innovation for global motorsport,” said McLaren F1 team principal Martin Whitmarsh in a statement on Monday.
“McLaren has worked with Frederic Vasseur for many years, and our association has been very successful,” added the Briton.
Vasseur set up the ART team, which competed in this year’s GP2 and GP3 series as Lotus, with Nicolas Todt whose father Jean is the president of the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA).
Britain’s Lewis Hamilton, who won the 2008 Formula One championship with McLaren, raced for ART in Formula Three Euroseries.
“Working together in Formula E, McLaren’s world-class technology and Spark Racing Technology’s expert knowledge will combine to allow both companies to stay at the forefront of technical innovation and hopefully open up great opportunities for the racing cars of tomorrow,” said Whitmarsh.
McLaren, who build their own sportscars at their Woking headquarters, have diversified into a range of applied technologies in recent years.
They are also the official suppliers of electronic control units to Formula One and NASCAR and have developed a 120KW E-motor for hybrid and electric vehicles.
Formula E will be an FIA-sanctioned championship, with the commercial rights licensed to a Hong Kong-based consortium, which aims to hold races in the heart of at least 10 cities around the world.
Organisers said demonstrations of the first cars will start next year before races, of an hour in duration, begin in 2014 with plans for a grid of 10 teams and 20 drivers.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar