McLaren announce first driver for new Formula E team

Formula E

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McLaren have announced three-times DTM champion Rene Rast as the first driver they have signed for their new Formula E team.

The British outfit, most famous for their Formula 1 achievements but also currently competing in IndyCar and Extreme E, will join the FE grid at the start of its Gen3 era next year.

Rast already has FE experience, having made his debut with Team Aguri in the 2016 Berlin E-Prix and then racing for Audi works team Abt in the series through 2020 and ‘21. From his 22 FE starts he has two podiums and a highest qualifying position of third place.

His DTM success before that also came with Audi, and prior to that he won for the marque in GT sportscars. A week before being revealed as a McLaren driver Rast announced he would leave the Audi brand at the end of 2022, and he was named as a BMW factory driver for 2023 shortly before his FE drive was confirmed.

“As a racing fan, McLaren has always had huge appeal,” said Rast. “It’s an iconic name in motorsport with a rich history, so I feel privileged and proud to be able to represent McLaren in FE next season.

“I’ve done a season in FE before, it was a great experience, and I felt after that year I wasn’t done yet. I’m excited that I am now getting the opportunity to continue that journey. I’m extremely motivated and have no doubt we will create something great together. I can’t wait to get started!”

Other highlights of Rast’s career include three Porsche Supercup titles on the F1 support bill, World Endurance Championship wins, victory in the Daytona 24 Hours’ GTD class, touring car and GT titles in his home country of Germany and second place in the 2016 Intercontinental GT Challenge.

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The identity of his McLaren team mate is yet to be determined, as the team’s IndyCar contract saga could influence whether one of its drivers signed there moves across to FE for 2023.

Nissan has also announced its line-up for the 2022-23 season. The team has parted ways with Sebastien Buemi and Maximilian Gunther, and signed Jaguar’s reserve and test drivers Norman Nato and Sacha Fenestraz.

Fenestra will get his first full season at Nissan
Nato won as a rookie with Venturi in the 2020-21 season but lost his drive, and since then has been winning in WEC as well as providing his services to Jaguar. Fenestraz, meanwhile, is currently leading Japan’s Super GT championship and is second in the standings in its top-level single-seater series Super Formula. He made his FE debut in the 2021-22 season finale in Seoul as a stand-in at Dragon-Penske for Antonio Giovinazzi.

“I’m very happy to be making my comeback as a full-time driver in FE with Nissan,” said Nato. “The Gen3 era will be a new chapter for the championship, and I’m excited to prepare for testing and drive the car.

Fenestraz, who made his Formula E debut at the final race in Seoul as a substitute for the injured Antonio Giovinazzi, said his full-time debut was “a dream come true.”

“It will be a big step forward in my career, to move up into a world championship for the first time and to be competing at such a high level against some of the best drivers in the world. It’s going to be a different challenge for me as it will be my first season in an all-electric car.”

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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7 comments on “McLaren announce first driver for new Formula E team”

  1. That came as a surprise to me.

  2. I am surprised BMW let him race in other series on their debut year. He may be one of the 3rd drivers in one of the cars if he is allowed to Formula E on the side.

  3. McLaren are unparalleled … in signing drivers.

  4. For a team that has so many drivers signed for next year, I fund that choice underwhelming ! Rast is a good driver, but he did not fair too well in FE so far…. Why him ?

  5. Rast over de Vries and van Doorn? I don’t think so that is just a downgrade…

  6. I was expecting Kyle Busch.

  7. Good choice, who will be his teammate?

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