Seasoned sportscar racer Rene Rast will make his Formula E debut in Berlin this weekend with Team Aguri, standing in for Antonio Felix da Costa.
The swap means the team will field two very green drivers at the German race. Ma Qing Hua joined the team in Paris, replacing Salvador Duran as a part of a pre-cursor to a takeover of the team by a Chinese investment firm. Adam Carroll had been lined up to race in Berlin as AFdC’s stand in, even appearing on the FanBoost voting ahead of the weekend.
However, the deal fell apart (for reasons not entirely yet clear). Team Aguri turned to Rast, who currently races in the FIA WEC series with G-Drive Racing and in Blancpain GT with the Audi-backed Team WRT. The German driver has not raced in single-seaters since entering the Formula BMW ADAC series in 2004, the year that four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel won the title.
“Driving a Formula E car on the streets of Berlin will be something very special and I’d like to thank the team for this great opportunity,” Rast said in the official team statement. “I have been in the simulator for the last few days to get a good feel for the car. While these cars have their own unique demands, I am confident that I can get up to speed quickly and use my experience in energy management to deliver a strong result for the team.”
Team principal Mark Preston cited Rast’s skills with energy management from the WEC as a key reason for bringing him on board for the race.
“There has been a lot of speculation about who would stand in for Antonio and we have been in contact with a number of drivers,” Preston said. “While we came close to agreements with some other famous names, Rene’s energy management skills, professional approach and pace made him an obvious choice. We are sure that the fans in Berlin will be very supportive of another home favourite and that he can give his fellow LMP drivers a run for their money. Our thanks go to Audi for providing their permission for Rene to race with us.”
Rast’s participation is subject to confirmation from the FIA stewards in Berlin once he has completed all of the necessary pre-race checks. All drivers competing in Formula E must additionally undergo a specific safety training course, which includes developing an awareness of high voltage electrics.