Mercedes Benz have surprised the motorsport world by announcing their intention to withdraw from DTM racing at the end of 2018, siting a shift of focus to the ever expanding Formula E series. Having been a key figure in the popular German touring car series since the early 1980's, Mercedes Benz Motorsport have confirmed the 2018 racing season will be their final one in the championship, as the company continue to focus on both their highly successful Formula One challenge and a recently announced works entry in Formula E for the 2019/20 season. "Our years in the DTM will always be held high as a major chapter in the motorsport history of Mercedes," said Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff "I want to thank every team member whose fantastic work has helped to make Mercedes-Benz the most successful DTM manufacturer during that time. "Although leaving is tough for all of us, we will be doing everything during this season and next to make sure we win as many DTM titles as possible before we go. We owe that to our fans and to ourselves." Our departure from the DTM brings a long-standing motorsport era to a close. We look back with pride on the commitment of our teams, drivers, partners and the many people behind the scenes, who so often made the series a fascinating platform for our customers and for fans of our brand,” concluded vice president of marketing at Mercedes-Benz, Dr. Jens Thiemer. “It is now time to start on a new path.” Should the number of manufacturers remain unchanged before the end of 2018, the withdrawal of the three pointed star will leave just Audi and BMW represented in the DTM heading into 2019. At present, Mercedes field no less than six of the 18 drivers in DTM 2017, with big name former Formula One and DTM champion Paul Di Resta, Williams reserve and another former champion Gary Paffett and Force India test driver Lucas Auer all expected to be looking for work once the manufacturer withdraw, the announcement will force an incredible shake up of the status quo within the sport. With DTM finding itself on the back burner after next season, Mercedes have confirmed a works entry in the electric open wheel Formula E season for 2019, joining a growing number of works outfits entering the somewhat marmite racing series. "In motorsport like in every other area, we want to be the benchmark in the premium segment and to explore innovative new projects. The combination of Formula 1 and Formula E delivers that" said a Mercedes statement. Formula E is like an exciting start-up venture: it offers a brand new format, combining racing with a strong event character, in order to promote current and future technologies. Electrification is happening in the road car world and Formula E offers manufacturers an interesting platform to bring this technology to a new audience - and to do so with a completely new kind of racing, different to any other series." Sad news for the DTM but a much needed shot in the arm for Formula E, only time will tell what the impact will be on one of the best touring car series in the world, and what happens next for the incredibly strong driving line up currently plying their trade in the championship for Mercedes Benz. For more motorsport news, check out the Motorsport sub forum here at RaceDepartment and join in with the community. What do you make of the Mercedes announcement? Can the DTM survive without one of its premium manufacturers and long term supporters? Let us know in the comments section below!