Mahindra Racing will field an all-new driver line-up for the 2018-19 FIA Formula E Championship, signing series veteran Jérôme d’Ambrosio and – in a move that will cause a stir in the Formula 1 driver market – Pascal Wehrlein.
The two ex-Formula 1 drivers replace Nick Heidfeld and Felix Rosenqvist. The former will remain with the team in an advisory capacity as well as a test and reserve driver, while the latter will join Chip Ganassi Racing’s IndyCar Series line-up.
Since leaving Formula 1, Wehrlein retained his Mercedes connections and returned to the DTM championship, finishing third overall in the standings. With the German carmaker exiting the touring car series and unable to get him back into Formula 1 – a situation not too dissimilar to that of fellow Mercedes academy driver Esteban Ocon – Wehrlein requested a release from his contract in the hope of broadening his opportunities beyond the ‘three-pointed star’.
“I’m very happy to be joining Mahindra,” said Wehrlein.
“I had the first meeting with Dilbagh [Gill, team principal] in the summer and met the team for the first time at a test event.
“It’s a small team but with really high ambitions and I have the same high ambitions,” he added. “I want to achieve the best possible results and I have a feeling the team is the right environment for me. I’m looking forward to the season and I will give my best.”
D’Ambrosio’s signing marks a change of scenery for the 32-year-old Belgian, who has contested all four Formula E Championship seasons with the Dragon Racing squad, claiming two victories and five further podium finishes.
“I’m super excited to join Mahindra Racing,” he said.
“I’ve known some people in the team for more than ten years and haven’t managed to work together with them yet and now we are going to have that opportunity, which is a great prospect.
“I think we have a great team and a really dedicated bunch of people with the possibility of doing something great so I am really motivated to make sure that we achieve the results that the team deserves.
“I’ve known Dilbagh for the last four years and what the team has achieved in that time is amazing and has shown great progression and I want to make sure that continues.”
The Indian team will be looking to both drivers to build on a generally successful 2017-18 season, principally led by the IndyCar-bound Rosenqvist who claimed back-to-back victories in Hong Kong and Marrakech early on before his and the team’s form faded.
Mahindra’s announcement leaves just one seat to be filled for the 2018-19 season’s grid to be complete, being that of José María López’s teammate at Dragon Racing. With official pre-season testing kicking off today at Valencia’s Circuito Ricardo Tormo, the team will run both its reserve driver Maximilian Günther and fellow Formula 2 driver Antonio Fuoco.
|2018-19 FIA Formula E Championship – Provisional Entry List (to-date)|
||Sébastien Buemi||Alexander Albon|
|Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
||Lucas di Grassi||Daniel Abt|
||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Pascal Wehrlein|
|Envision Virgin Racing||Sam Bird||Robin Frijns|
|DS Techeetah||Jean-Éric Vergne||André Lotterer|
|Dragon Racing||José María López||TBA|
|Panasonic Jaguar Racing
||Mitch Evans||Nelson Piquet Jr.|
|NIO Formula E Team
||Tom Dillmann||Oliver Turvey|
|Venturi Formula E Team
||Felipe Massa||Edoardo Mortara|
|BMW i Andretti Motorsport
||António Félix da Costa||Alexander Sims|
||Gary Paffett||Stoffel Vandoorne|
Images via Mahindra Racing