DS Automobiles have reaffirmed their commitment to Formula Virtual alongside the Mathershaw team for the next four years at least through to 2020, albeit in a slightly reduced role for 2017, while stating their wishes for the future rules of the series.
The French manufacturer has a technical partnership with the Downton High Performance Engines programme which sees the two teams share engine technology, and the V12 has proven to be one of the most successful engines of the era: 11 wins for DS (1 as Liverpool) and 1 for Downton, with 2017 set to bring further success to the DS-Downton partnership.
DS chief Arthur Lapierre explained the manufacturer's changing commitment: "In DS's first year in Formula Virtual, we achieved everything we set out to do and more. The 2016 season could not have been better, and 2017 we are confident that we will be close to the front again. However, 2017 will be also consolidation year - the Mathershaw team will continue to be the works DS Automobiles Team, but the relationship will shift slightly, as reflected in our new official constructor name: DS Mathershaw. Day to day, nothing will change, but it might take a season for us to get used to the overall changes that we have made for the future."
Regarding the future rules, Lapierre was clear: "We love competing in Formula Virtual, and as we have shown by this announcement, we are here for the long haul. However, we also have wishes for the way the series goes in the future. The reason DS Automobiles is in this sport is to innovate in every way - right from the engineering of the car to the structure of the team itself - everything we do is to make the DS road cars better. As such, we would welcome regulations allowing the use of hybrid technology into the championship."
When questioned about Downton's position on this subject, technical director James Austin stated "I'm firmly in the belief that hybrid technology is the way forward, so why wouldn't you exploit it? We would love the challenge of developing the best hybrid engine alongside DS Automobiles, but at the same time we're content with the current regulations. We will happily take on any challenge, and together with DS Automobiles, create a truly impressive engine."
The 2017 Downton BD05 has already been launched in an event at Thruxton, while DS Mathershaw have confirmed their launch will take place at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes on Saturday afternoon, with the car's first run occurring simultaneously at Paul Ricard. Both cars, along with the customer Lopez team, will run the Downton DS-2017 V12 power unit.