Photo: Zak Mauger/LAT/Formula E

Preview: Formula E Teams Set for Rookie Test in Marrakesh

By Aaron Bearden, Contributing Writer

With the weekend approaching, the stars and teams of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship are currently preparing for the third race of the season – the Marrakesh E-Prix.

The event is slated to be over in just one day, with the field taking the checkered flag just half a day after the beginning of Free Practice 1.  But while that may mark the end of the race weekend for those contending for the championship, the teams will still have another day of action remaining.

For 20 prospective talents, the end of the traditional race weekend will only be the beginning.

On January 14 – the day after the E-Prix – each of the 10 teams in the Formula E paddock will participate in a day of rookie testing on the 1.86-mile Moroccan circuit. The test is only available to drivers who have yet to obtain an eLicense, meaning a host a new names will strap in behind the wheel of the tour’s all-electric race cars.

The test will consist of two sessions throughout the day, with each driver allotted one new set of tires and another used set to use throughout the test.

Curious about who will take to the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan on Sunday? A preview of the 20-participant drive lineup can be seen below.


Marrakesh Rookie Test Participants

Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler

  • Nyck de Vries
    • Age: 22
    • Nationality: Netherlands
    • Description: A Formula 2 race winner with previous ties to Audi through a DTM young driver’s session, de Vries will make his testing debut ahead of a planned F2 season with Prema.
  • Nico Muller
    • Age: 25
    • Nationality: Switzerland
    • Description: A regular for Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline in German DTM, Muller has a victory and four podiums in 64 series starts.

Dragon Racing

  • Maximilian Gunther:
    • Age: 20
    • Nationality: Germany
    • Description: An ace for the team, Gunther has parlayed 10 victories and a plethora of podiums to two points finishes inside of the top three in the European Formula 3 Championship. With Mercedes backing, there’s a real chance Gunther could be back in Formula E with the German team in the coming years.
  • Andrea Caldarelli:
    • Age: 27
    • Nationality: Italy
    • Description: A few years removed from his last single-seater experience, Caldarelli arrives at Dragon with a resume that includes three top-three finishes in Japanese Super GT.

DS Virgin Racing

  • Joel Eriksson:
    • Age: 19
    • Nationality: Sweden
    • Description: With just four years of single-seater experience, Eriksson comes to the Formula E paddock after a meteoric ascent that includes a seven-win, second-place 2017 campaign in European Formula 3.
  • Antonio Giovinazzi:
    • Age: 24
    • Nationality: Italy
    • Description: Formula racing’s recent points bridesmaid, Giovinazzi appeared poised for a quick rise into Formula 1 prominence after finishing second in both the European Formula 3 Championship (2015) and GP2 Series (2016). The Italian made his F1 debut in 2017, replacing the injured Pascal Werhlein for two races, but has since gone quiet.

Mahindra Racing

  • Daniel Juncadella
    • Age: 26
    • Nationality: Spain
    • Description: With interest in Formula E dating back to 2016, Juncadella will get his second taste of the series after assisting Mahindra in the pre-season test at Valencia. Juncadella was a reserve driver for the Mercedes DTM team in 2017.
  • Sam Dejonghe:
    • Age: 26
    • Nationality: Belgium
    • Description: A winner in both the European F3 Open and MRF Challenge, the young Belgian will get his first shot at Formula E after signing a developmental deal with Mahindra.

MS&AD Andretti Formula E

  • Colton Herta:
    • Age: 17
    • Nationality: United States
    • Description: The son of former Verizon IndyCar Series ace and current team owner (in conjunction with Andretti Autosport) Bryan Herta, Colton made waves in his debut Indy Lights season in 2017. The rookie finished third in the standings, tallying two victories along the way.
  • Bruno Spengler:
    • Age: 34
    • Nationality: Canada
    • Description: One of many strong DTM competitors in the test, Spengler joins Andretti via a connection to BMW – a backer of the team. The Canadian is a 2012 champion of DTM, with 15 victories in the series to his name. He hasn’t driven a single-seater race car since 2004, meaning he’ll likely have some rust to shake off throughout the day.

NIO Formula E Team

  • Harry Tincknell:
    • Age: 26
    • Nationality: Great Britain
    • Description: With a win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 2016 championship in the European Le Mans Series, Tincknell arrives at the test with one of the best recent resumes. The Englishman has previous experience with Formula E, having tested at Donington Park with Panasonic Jaguar Racing ahead of their debut season in 2016.
  • Alexandre Imperatori:
    • Age: 30
    • Nationality: Switzerland
    • Description: The 30-year-old Imperatori will make the brief move from sports cars to the all-electric series in an effort to jumpstart his future prospects, arriving with a list of accomplishments that includes two podiums in the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a member of Rebellion Racing’s LMP1 program and a Porsche Carrera Cup Asia championship.

Panasonic Jaguar Racing

  • Pietro Fittipaldi:
    • Age: 21
    • Nationality: Brazil
    • Description: The grandson of Formula 1 legend Emerson Fittipaldi, Pietro arrives at Marrakesh after a 2017 season that saw him score the Formula V8 3.5 Championship. His career aim seems to be F1, but without the proper financial backing his current prospects appear minimal.
  • Paul di Resta:
    • Age: 31
    • Nationality: Great Britain
    • Description: A champion of DTM and former competitor in Formula 1, di Resta is among the most recognizable names on the list.

Renault e.Dams

  • Alexander Albon:
    • Age: 21
    • Nationality: Thailand
    • Description: Overshadowed only by the impressive incoming Formula 1 rookie Charles LeClerc in GP3 in 2016, Albon will give Formula E a shot after a debut Formula 2 season that saw two podiums.
  • Mitsunori Takaboshi:
    • Age: 24
    • Nationality: Japan
    • Description: Takaboshi is among the lesser known of the test’s contenders, but is a proven talent in his own right. The Nissan factory driver has claimed a driver’s title in Japanese Formula 3.

Techeetah

  • James Rossiter:
    • Age: 34
    • Nationality: Great Britain
    • Description: For a time it appeared Rossiter would be on the tour full-time this season. He tested for Venturi in Valencia, but was ultimately left out of the team in favor of rookie Edoardo Mortara, who sits in the top five in the standings after nearly winning in Hong Kong. That leaves the Englishman free to prove his mettle once again in a second test.
  • Frederic Makowiecki:
    • Age: 37
    • Nationality: France
    • Description: Known for his sportscar prowess, Makowiecki is a former GT1 World Championship and French Porsche factory driver. At the age of 37, the Frenchman is the oldest driver slated to participate in the test.

Venturi Formula E Team

  • Michael Benyahia:
    • Age: 17
    • Nationality: Morocco
    • Description: A developmental driver for Venturi, Benyahia will get his second day of testing in his native Morocco. The former Formula Renault NEC champion made his debut in the paddock during pre-season testing at Valencia.
  • Gary Paffett:
    • Age: 36
    • Nationality: Great Britain
    • Description: A long-time Formula 1 test driver for McLaren and Williams and champion of DTM, the veteran Paffett will make his Formula E debut in Marrakesh. He figures to be in contention for a drive with Mercedes when they join the all-electric series in Season Six.

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A contributing writer for Motorsports Tribune, Aaron Bearden emerged onto the racing journalism scene in 2014 after growing up with the sport. A native Hoosier, Bearden’s attended races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since he was three years old. He can be found at race tracks across the U.S., and on social media at @AaronBearden93.