As we wind down from a crazy Marrakesh E-Prix, the reigns to the cars are being given to some new and exciting talent for the official Formula E rookie test which takes place around the Morrocan circuit on Sunday.
Previous entries have included some of Formula E’s brightest new talents like recent race winner Max Günther or Mercedes’ Nyck de Vries. However, with this year’s rookie test line-up confirmed, we thought we would take a deeper look into the drivers, who they are and what they’ve done before they get a chance to jump into the all-electric second generation Formula E cars.
AUDI SPORT FORMULA E
Kelvin van der Linde
Van der Linde is a South African racing driver who has a very impressive resume for someone aged just 23. Currently in competing in Intercontinental GT Challenge, Blancpain GT Series and ADAC GT Masters, van der Linde is also a two-time GT Masters Champion and has previously taken victory at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring. He also has strong ties with Audi, but it will prove interesting to see how he gets on back in single-seaters during the test.
Drudi is also another sports car driver for Audi, who recently took part in the Bathurst 12 Hour with fellow Audi Rookie Test entrant Van der Linde with Audi Sport Team Valvoline. A busy 2019, also included opportunities such as the Le Mans 24 Hours for the Italian.
BMW i ANDRETTI MOTORSPORT
Lucas Auer might be the nephew of Gerhard Berger, but he is so much more than just a relation to motorsport royalty. He is an upcoming talent in his own right. Last year he came third in the Castrol Toyota Racing Series, as well as racing in Super Formula in which he managed to secure himself a podium over seven races. Auer also dabbled in a couple of GT races last year too. A partnership with the Red Bull junior programme ended after just one year at the end of 2019, however Auer has other opportunities on his horizon including a return for DTM with BMW this year.
Fresh from being crowned the 2019 Indy Pro 2000 champion, Kirkwood will be behind the wheel of a totally different machine at the Marrakesh rookie test. Despite already signing a contract to race for Andretti Autosport in the 2020 North American Indy Lights series season for the reigning championship team, Kirkwood said he couldn’t pass on the opportunity to test such a “technologically advanced” car.
This experienced driver has a highly impressive Endurance record behind him, having taken part in both the World and European Endurance Championships. Looking after fellow Portuguese driver Antoni Félix da Costa’s car during the test, Techeetah have stated that they selected Albuquerque as they wanted a safe pair of hands as current constructors’ champions.
Drafted in at the last minute, Lapierre is a hugely respected endurance driver. He has had experience in the FIA World Endurance Championship in which he finished first in the LMP2 category in 2016, as well as the LMP2 Drivers FIA Endurance Trophy which he won in 2018. He has also competed in Le Mans 24 Hours in the top LMP1 class in which he secured a podium finish.
Away from endurance racing, earlier in his career Lapierre also accrued some impressive single-seater results including a win at the Formula 3 Macau GP and won the A1GP Championship.
Rossiter had been scheduled to take part in the Formula E rookie test, however, as Jean-Eric Vergne fell ill over the Marrakesh weekend, Rossiter stood in for him in FP1, which means he is no longer eligible for the test.
Had he not taken part in the test, before stepping in for Vergne on Friday, Rossiter was probably the most experienced in Formula E from the lineup. He has a well-developed relationship with the DS Techeetah team as he was signed as their development driver back in 2018. Rossiter tested for Venturi during the 2017 Valencia Pre-Season Test, as well as testing with Techeetah for the 2018 rookie test. Away from Formula E, Rossiter has had success in Super GT, Super Formula and the World Endurance Championship.
However, as mentioned, Rossiter is to miss the rookie test as he took part in FP1 in Marrakesh.
ENVISION VIRGIN RACING
Cassidy is well-known in motorsport, as last year he completed what was being referred to as an ‘unofficial triple crown’ of titles of Japanese motorsport. In 2012, he won the Toyota Racing Series and the New Zealand Grand Prix aged just 17 at the time and repeated his success the following year too. He has also raced in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship where his best championship was third. He won the Super GT Championship in 2017 and the Super Formula Championship in 2019.
Powell has recently been back in the spotlight thanks to her participation in W Series, however before she joined the championship she had experience in some of the top racing series in the world. She became the first woman to win a Formula Renault championship and also became the first woman to score points in the GP3 Series back in 2012. Now, as well as W Series she has also been taking part in the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY.
GEOX DRAGON RACING
A multiple winner of the ‘Swedish junior driver of the year’, Eriksson spent his 2019 in both DTM and the FIA GT World Cup in Macau. He announced his departure from the BMW DTM team at the end of last year after two years with the team. His time in DTM gave him a win and two podiums but ensures he will continue his ties with the German manufacturer elsewhere in the sport. Geox Dragon also confirmed that Ericksson had signed as a Test and Reserve driver alongside Sérgio Sette Câmar throughout the remainder of the season.
Sérgio Sette Câmara
After recently being confirmed as the official test and reserve driver at GEOX Dragon, Câmara has also been testing in Indycar earlier this year at the Open Test at the Circuits of the Americas. He joined the FIA Formula 3 Championship in 2015 and then after two seasons was promoted to FIA Formula 2. During his time in F2, Câmara has earned 18 podiums and three wins.
Sam DeJonghe already has some experience with Mahindra in Formula E, as their Simulator and Development Driver. He has also taken part in mid-season tests for the Indian manufacturer in the all-electric championship. Although DeJonghe mainly competed in sportscar racing, he has been able to improve and add to his single-seater knowledge through his partnership with Mahindra both on-track and in their simulators.
Derani is a very bright young talent, who at just 26 already has a very impressive set of results and titles to his name. Last year, he won the Petite Le Mans as well as winning the Sebring 12 Hours for the third time. Derani, a Brazilian, has also previously won the iconic Daytona 24 Hours.
It’s understood that Derani has very keen interests in being a bigger part of Formula E, so this rookie test is a chance to truly show off what he is capable of in the Mahindra.
Hughes currently competes with HWA Racelab in FIA Formula 3, hence the test with Mercedes in Marrakesh. During his time in Formula 3 last year, he secured both a win and a pole position and hopes to build on that success in 2020.
He has had a promising career in single seaters so far, with time spent in BRDC Formula 4 Championship which he won in 2013, as well as several Formula Renault sport series, GP3 and FIA Formula 3 European Championship.
With experience in both DTM and single seaters, Juncadella has 94 DTM starts to his name. Earlier in his career, he secured championship titles that included Formula 3 Euro Series, FIA European Formula 3 Championship, Masters of Formula 3 and won the Macau Grand Prix in 2011.
Juncadella also has had experience with Formula E. Last season he was confirmed as HWA’s, now Mercedes, test and reserve driver. He was thrown in the deep end quickly after he had to complete a day of testing at the pre-season test in Valencia during season five as Stoffel Vandoorne needed to head to Austin for his McLaren commitments in F1.
18-year-old rising Chinese star Cao has been signed by NIO 333 as their development for the remainder of the season and will make his debut in the Marrakesh rookie test. Cao currently competes in Asian Formula 3, but his recent achievements include winning both the 2017 Formula 4 South East Asia Championship and the Pro Class of the 2018 Formula Renault Asia Championship.
Fuoco has sampled a Formula E car before in his previous role as test and development driver for the Dragon Racing team. Still only 23, the Italian has already won races in Euro F3, GP3, and across two seasons in F2 between 2017-18. Fuoco took up a role last year as a simulator driver for the Ferrari F1 team, having previously been a member of their Young Driver Academy.
It was recently confirmed that Jann ‘The Man’ Mardenborough, as he is commonly known, will be back racing in Super GT for a fifth season this year. He has a long and successful relationship with Nissan, and as a result is the team’s Formula E simulator driver.
Mardenborough has been a professional racing driver for a decade now, but found himself in motorsport after winning the GT Academy competition. To win, Mardenborough beat over 90,000 applicants in the game show which let fans go from virtual racing on their PlayStation to racing in real cars on track. For winning, he was rewarded with a drive for Nissan at the Dubai 24 Hour race and the Nissan partnership began.
As Nissan e.dams Formula E test and reserve driver, Takaboshi knows his way around a Formula E car. He tested before with Renault e.Dams at the 2018 Rookie test.
Away from Formula E, Takaboshi has also got experience in championships such as the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, in addition to winning the 2017 Japanese Formula 3 Championship. He made the full time switch GT500 in 2018.
PANASONIC JAGUAR RACING
Jamie Chadwick’s career exploded in 2019 when she became the first winner of the inaugural W Series championship whilst also being confirmed as the development driver at Williams Grand Prix Engineering.
She has just wrapped up her time in the the F3 Asian Series and did so with a win, but her main focus this year is expected to be with W Series and working closely with the Williams F1 team.
Chadwick has previously tested in Formula E in 2019 with NIO in Ad Diriyah at one of the in-season tests.
At just 20-years-old, Fenestraz has an incredible racing resume. Last year he won the Japanese Formula 3 Championship, and has had previous success during the 2018 Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix where he finished third. He also won the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup in 2017 and came second in the French F4 Championship two years before.
It was confirmed last month that Toyota had snapped up Fenestraz for their Super GT and Super Formula commitments, Japan’s top two premier classes.
He might not get much time for Formula E opportunities this year, but watch this space.
TAG HEUER PORSCHE FORMULA E
Frenchman Mackowiecki has been a Porsche factory driver since 2014 and has achieved notable success with the German manufacturer in sportscar racing. Although technically still a rookie, the 39-year-old has driven a Formula E car before and was involved in the early stages of development for the Spark Gen1 car prior to the championship’s launch. He took part in the official in-season test with Techeetah back in 2018, alongside James Rossiter.
Porsche’s official test and development driver for this season, Preining will take part in an official Formula E test session for the first time this weekend. The 21-year-old Austrian has competed in both the FIA WEC (GTE-AM class) and the German-based ADAC GT Masters series in recent seasons and will race a Porsche 911 GT3 this year in both the Blancpain Endurance Series and the Intercontinental GT Challenge.
ROKiT VENTURI RACING
Nato will participate in the Marrakesh rookie test again having driven last year with Venturi. The Frenchman continues this year in his role as the Monegasque team’s official test and reserve driver. A three-time race winner in GP2, Nato now competes in the World Endurance Championship’s LMP1 category with privateers Rebellion Racing and became a race winner for the second time this season at last weekend’s 6 Hours of COTA race in Austin, Texas.
The younger brother of Ferrari Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc, 19-year-old Arthur returns to Marrakesh having driven for Venturi in last year’s rookie test. Now a member of the Ferrari Young Driver Academy, Leclerc was retained in his role as official test and reserve driver alongside the more experienced Nato. The Monegasque driver finished third in German Formula 4 last year, taking a win and seven further podiums.