From future stars to ex-F1 racers: 23 names to know for Formula E’s rookie test

Formula E

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Formula 1 first introduced young driver tests in 2009 and now mandates teams run inexperienced drivers in at least two practice sessions per season while testing days are reduced. Formula E has attempted to follow a similar approach, with rookie tests in 2018, ’19 and ’20.

The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted FE’s ability to host in-season tests, hence it tried to pursue an F1-style mandate for teams to run rookies in practice for this season. That was met with little support from the teams themselves. But next week the rookie test format will return in Berlin on the day after the series races on the Tempelhof airfield.

Aside from having not participated in a FE event before, the criteria for entry eligibility into the test specifies that drivers must possess an FIA International Grade B licence, 20 superlicence points (or have previously held a superlicence to compete in F1), have not have already done two days of FE testing since the end of the previous season and to have completed a specific training session on electrical safety and features of FE cars.

From that criteria, FE’s 11 teams have been able to select a wide array of drivers and some who may well race in the championship, or even in F1, in the future.

Ferrari’s Shwartzman will appear in Formula E rookie test
Four teams have chosen to use former F1 drivers for the test, with Mahindra picking Roberto Merhi, NIO 333 running Daniil Kvyat, DS Penske calling upon McLaren’s F1 simulator driver Will Stevens and Envision Racing giving a chance to Jack Aitken.

Merhi is currently racing in the S5000 single-seater series in Australia, while Kvyat is a title contender in the World Endurance Championship’s LMP2 class and spent last year racing in NASCAR.

Mahindra are the only team to call up three drivers for their two cars, as Merhi shares driving duties with former IndyCar racer Jordan King – who has been Mahindra’s simulator and development driver for over two years – and the team’s new reserve driver Jehan Daruvala who is in his fourth season of Formula 2.

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Several of his past and present F2 rivals will also be in action at the test, including reigning champion Felipe Drugovich (Maserati), 2021 runner-up and Ferrari F1 reserve driver Robert Shwartzman (DS Penske), 2019 title contender Luca Ghiotto (Nissan), rookies Zane Maloney (Andretti Autosprt) and Victor Martins (Nissan), current DTM racer Aitken and David Beckmann.

Felipe Drugovich
Aston Martin test driver Drugovich will appear for Maserati
Porsche’s decision to run Beckmann is possibly the most significant addition to the entry list. He is strongly tipped to make his FE race debut later this season in Jakarta with the Porsche-powered Andretti, taking the place of regular driver Andre Lotterer who has a schedule clash due to his Le Mans 24 Hours commitments.

Some teams have taken the braver choice of picking drivers with less car racing experience for the upcoming test, but those drivers are eligible for the test thanks to the superlicence points picked up by their performances in series lower down the single-seater ladder.

Envision has chosen former Red Bull junior Jonny Edgar. His F3 rivals Hugh Barter and Luke Browning will also be in action with Maserati and McLaren respectively. Browning won the Aston Martin-supported BRDC young driver award last year, and it is understood an unnamed F1 team is supporting his racing this season.

One rung beneath that group is Tim Tramnitz, a teenaged Formula Regional sophomore who will test for Abt Cupra alongside eTouring Car World Cup champion Adrien Tambay. While Tambay has extensive single-seater experience, winning in GP3 and Auto GP, his fellow touring car stars getting an FE call-up do not.

Mikel Azcona finished fifth behind Tambay in ETCR last year, but won the World Touring Car Cup for conventionally-powered cars and as a factory Hyundai driver also won last year’s Nurburgring 24 Hours.

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Simon Evans will get in his brother Mitch’s Jaguar for the test. His car racing career started in Formula Ford but has primarily been spent in touring and sports car series at home in New Zealand. He has experience of many FE tracks, having won the supporting Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy series three years ago and taking three of his five victories in Jaguar’s electric SUV on the Berlin track.

Andretti will test Red Bull junior Maloney
Alongside him at Jaguar will be reigning DTM champion Sheldon van der Linde. The South African also has a sibling link to FE, his brother Kelvin having contested three races at Abt Cupra this season as a substitute for the injured Robin Frijns. Van der Linde is a factory BMW driver, and represents the brand in GT3 sports cars and top-level Hypercars in series across the globe.

The remaining test entrants are reigning Indy Nxt champion Linus Lundqvist, who is set to announce his racing plans for the year soon after missing out on a graduation to IndyCar, and will be testing for Andretti. Factory Aston Martin sports car driver Charlie Eastwood will drive for McLaren.

Yifei Ye is due to appear for Porsche. The 2020 Euroformula and 2021 Asian and European Le Mans Series champion has a works relationship with Porsche via its Asia Pacific division, which often means he gets racing opportunities in that region, but he is also being prepared by the marque for a future which is already confirmed to include a Hypercar programme and potentially FE in the future.

While many FE teams treat the rookie test as an opportunity to focus primarily on car development, given it is their only in-season test opportunity, there has been a history of drivers impressing in these tests and later earning race seats. Maximilian Guenther, Nick Cassidy and Alexander Albon are among the most notable examples, although Albon was poached by the AlphaTauri F1 team before he was able to make his FE debut.

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Formula E rookie test line-up

JaguarSimon Evans2nd in Toyota 86 NZ champioonship
JaguarSheldon van der LindeDTM, IMSA & Intercontinental GTCDTM champion
Envision RacingJack AitkenDTM & IMSA4th in ADAC GT Masters, 11th in European LMS
Envision RacingJonny EdgarF312th in F3
Andretti AutosportLinus LundqvistIndy Nxt champion
Andretti AutosportZane MaloneyF22nd in F3
PorscheDavid BeckmannFE & WEC18th in F2
PorscheYifei YeWEC5th in European LMS, 8th in ALMS (GT)
MahindraJehan DaruvalaF27th in F2
MahindraJordan KingNo racingNo racing
MahindraRoberto MerhiS500020th in F2, 14th in SuperF Lights
NissanLuca GhiottoNo racing11th in GTWC Europe Sprint Cup
NissanVictor MartinsF2F3 champion
NIO 333Mikel AzconaTCR World TourWTCR champion, 5th in ETCR, Nurburgring 24H winner (TCR)
NIO 333Daniil KvyatWECNASCAR Cup Series
DS PenskeRobert ShwartzmanGTWC EuropeNo racing
DS PenskeWill StevensWEC14th in IMSA, FIA Endurance Trophy winner (LMP2)
Abt CupraAdrien TambayETCR champion
Abt CupraTim TramnitzFRegional Europe15th in FRegional Europe
McLarenLuke BrowningF3 & FRegional Middle EastGB3 champion, 11th in F4 UAE
McLarenCharlie EastwoodAsian LMS, European LMS & WEC (GTE Am)8th in European LMS, 5th in Asian LMS (GT)
MaseratiHugh BarterF32nd in French F4, 2nd in Spanish F4
MaseratiFelipe DrugovichF2 champion

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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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2 comments on “From future stars to ex-F1 racers: 23 names to know for Formula E’s rookie test”

  1. That’s quite the list of never-have-beens.

  2. Impressive lineup, featuring champions from F2, F3, WTCR, DTM, Indylights & fast Wec drivers.
    Positive to see such a stacked field for the Formula E rookie tests, and promising for the future of the serie in terms of drivers.

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