Though it may not be the deathknell for racing utilizing the internal combustion engine, the FIA Formula E series is shaping up to be a veritable whos who of the racing world. On Wednesday, Feb. 12, the FIA announced that Jaime Alguersuari, Nicolas Minassian, Alex Brundle, Robert Doornbos, Christian Klien, Conor Daly, Katherine Legge and Ben Collins are all ready to race, and showing their support for the new global electric racing series.
“I’m very pleased to be joining the Formula E Drivers’ Club," stated Jaime Alguersuari. "I think Formula E provides a new concept in motorsport and will be a great challenge to the drivers, especially having to learn new tracks in just one day and to race in city-centres like London and Beijing.”
Unveiled last month, the Formula E Drivers’ Club features a pool of top, international names that all officially endorse the new FIA Formula E Championship and have expressed a willingness to race in the future. Today’s drivers join those previously announced bringing the total to 24.
“I am really proud and happy to become part of the Formula E Drivers' Club," added Robert Doornbos. "I believe that Formula E cars are the future of motor racing and I look forward to racing again after a successful career in F1 and Champ/IndyCar. I’m positive that it will attract a lot of attention worldwide and sponsors will get to experience autosport on a new level.”
Of the eight new names – seven male and one female – Austrian Christian Klien, Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari and Dutchman Robert Doornbos have all raced in Formula One whilst American Conor Daly has tested for Force India. Frenchman Nicolas Minassian is a former Peugeot factory driver and Le Mans 24Hours podium finisher whilst Brit Alex Brundle – son of former F1 racer Martin – has raced in F3, F2 and sportscars.
“I am delighted to be included in the Formula E Drivers’ Club and to be part of a new age of motorsport competition," Brundle added. "The development of the car represents a new challenge in a forum which is innovative, sustainable and exciting.”
Fellow Brit Katherine Legge previously racing in IndyCar and DTM. Meanwhile, Britain Ben Collins is a current stunt driver but is best known as the former ‘Stig’ from the BBC’s Top Gear program who kept 500 million viewers worldwide guessing over his identity for eight years.
“I’m thrilled to have been selected to join the Drivers’ Club and to be a part of the development team that will shape the future of racing," added Ben Collins, proving that, at least once in a great while, the Stig can speak!
Final driver signings for the inaugural Formula E season will remain up to the individual teams, though the first announcement of who will be driving for whom was just made this week.
On Thursday, Feb. 13, ABT Sportsline announced that the team will contest the first season of the new FIA Formula E Championship with former Formula One racer and Audi factory driver Lucas di Grassi and German youngster Daniel Abt. The German outfit is the first of the ten teams in the field to have presented its driver line-up.
”In Daniel and Lucas we’ve signed our absolutely ideal pairing,” says team owner Hans-Jürgen Abt. ”My thanks go to Audi who released Lucas for the Formula E commitment. He’s been involved in the development of the series right from the beginning and is one of the most sought-after names on the scene – we’re proud that he’s opted for us.”
The 29-year-old Brazilian has previously competed in Formula One, various Formula series and endurance races. In 2014 di Grassi is again part of the Audi squad, running in the FIA World Endurance Championship including Le Mans.
“I’m delighted that Audi is giving me the opportunity to drive in sports car racing as well as in Formula E,” says di Grassi, whose first Formula E test with ABT is scheduled for June. ”I’ve been watching ABT Sportsline on track for a long time – a very professional and cool outfit. It’s great that it worked out. We’ve got ambitious plans.”
The second seat for the only German Formula E team goes to Daniel Abt. The 21-year-old is starting his second GP2 season in 2014 after having previously clinched the runner-up’s spot in the GP3 Championship. As the son of team owner and CEO Hans-Jürgen Abt he was one of the first applicants.
“I was really thrilled with the ideas of Formula E from the very beginning and obviously even more about ABT Sportsline competing with a team of their own,” says Daniel Abt. “That I’m part of the line-up in the inaugural season is both an honour and a huge challenge.”
Formula E is a new FIA racing championship featuring fully-electric single-seater race cars. The series will compete in the heart of 10 of the world's leading cities – including Germany’s capital Berlin – with 10 teams, each with two drivers, going head-to-head to create a unique and exciting racing series designed to appeal to a new generation of motorsport fans. The only German race will take place in Berlin on May 30, 2015.
Although the inaugural event in Beijing will not be held until Sept. 13, preparations are already in full swing. In May the ten international teams are scheduled to move into their new, state-of-the-art headquarters in Donington Park, UK, where the Spark-Renault SRT_01E Formula E cars will be prepared for initial track tests.
“All our plans for Formula E are perfectly on track,” says Thomas Biermaier, who, as sports director, is responsible for all motorsport activities at ABT. “The two drivers we’d been wishing to sign are on board and our discussions with partners, sponsors, engineers and mechanics are making very good progress as well.”
Be sure to subscribe to the West Palm Beach Motorsports Examiner, and keep track of your favorite racers, no matter how many (or how few) wheels they may or may not race on. If you're a motorsports fan, and know of an event, team, or person you'd like to see profiled, please let me know. Also, be sure to follow me on twitter, and read my articles about local getaways, HOAs, elections, and restaurants.