The Formula E Grid for 2023: Big Names make Big Moves (Part Two)
Written by Vyas Ponnuri, Edited by Sameena Khan
The new era of Formula E dawns upon us. In around a month, the new Gen3 Formula E cars will be powering around the street circuits for the first round of 16, and all the seats on the 2023 grid will have been filled in due course.
In Part I of this two-piece article, we looked at some driver line-ups representing the new teams such as McLaren, Maserati, ABT Sportsline, and race winners such as Jaguar and Porsche. Part II focuses on the driver line-ups of the teams: Mahindra, Nissan, Avalanche Andretti, NIO 333 Formula E Team, and Envision Racing.
Nissan Formula E Team
Drivers - Norman Nato, Sacha Fenestraz
Having taken over the E.DAMS team earlier in April, the rebranded Nissan Formula E Team’s 2023 campaign will be spearheaded by two relatively young, lesser-known Frenchmen. One returns to the Formula E Paddock, whereas the other steps up for his first full season in the sport.
Following the departure of Max Guenther to Maserati, as mentioned above, and veteran Sebastian Buemi heading to Envision Racing, Nissan has snapped up two young drivers for the new era in the form of Norman Nato and Sacha Fenestraz. Nato returns to a full-time Formula E seat, having filled in for Sam Bird at the final weekend of the season at Seoul. He drove an entire season for the former Rokit Venturi Racing in 2021, having taken a dominant win at the season finale that year in Berlin. He will be looking to build on his Formula E campaign in 2023.
Fenestraz, who filled in for Antonio Giovinazzi at Dragon Penske in the season finale at Seoul in 2022, will step up to a full-time seat in 2023 for Nissan. The 2015 Formula 4 runner-up and 2017 Formula Renault 2.0 Champion also took part in Japanese Formula 3 in 2019, winning the title with a round to spare. He took part in Super Formula as well before being a reserve driver for Jaguar in 2020, before filling in for Giovinazzi, as mentioned above, last season. He will be looking to settle into the sport in his first entire season in 2023.
Avalanche Andretti Formula E Team
Drivers - Jake Dennis, Andre Lotterer
Last year’s new arrival to the Formula E grid, Avalanche Andretti, heads into its sophomore season of Formula E with a change to its driver line-up, as Andre Lotterer replaces the outgoing Oliver Askew. Jake Dennis continues with the team he originally debuted for in 2021, then BMW i-Andretti Motorsport.
After a strong debut season, which saw Dennis as one of many drivers in contention for the championship, 2022 was a largely subdued season for the Briton. The highlight of his season was his spectacular showing at London, taking pole position for both races of the weekend, converting his pole from race one to a win, and only losing out to Lucas Di Grassi in race two. Taking 50 points from his home race weekend was crucial to his sixth-place finish in the standings, being one of three drivers to have 126 points to his name. He will look to be at the head of the field more often in 2023 as he heads into his third season of Formula E.
And partnering with him will be Andre Lotterer. The German, who left Formula E hoping to secure a seat at Porsche’s LmDh Hypercar category in the World Endurance Championship (WEC), later announced his return to the sport with the American outfit late in the season. Lotterer, albeit inconsistent during his time at Porsche, has shown he can bring home a good result, with a runners-up spot at Mexico City and three fourth-places contributing to his 71 points for the season. He has achieved eight podiums from 67 race starts and will be looking to take his elusive first win in 2023.
Drivers - Sebastian Buemi, Nick Cassidy
Following the departure of long-time Envision racer Robin Frijns, who heads to ABT Sportsline, the British outfit made a big signing of 2015-16 Formula E World Champion Sebastian Buemi. Buemi is a multiple record-holder in Formula E, having achieved the most wins in the sport (13), second to Jean-Eric Vergne in terms of poles (14), most wins in a season (six, during his championship-winning 2015-16 season), highest win percentage in a season (50%) and overall (13 wins from 98 starts), and being the only driver to win the first three races of a season (three in 2016-17). After a second and fourth-place finish in the standings, he has endured a tough last couple of seasons, having not scored a single podium in either edition in uncompetitive Nissan machinery. He will be hoping to rediscover his form at Envision Racing in 2023.
His teammate for the season, Nick Cassidy, moves into his third season with the team. The New Zealander took pole position and converted it to a maiden victory in the series at New York City, following a red flag period after a multiple-car crash on a wet track, which saw him involved as well. He took pole position for the second race at New York, too but was sent to the back of the grid after changing his car’s battery. He would subsequently finish outside the points. Cassidy scored 68 points, finishing 11th in the standings, with two rostrum appearances, the victory above in New York, and a third place in the next round at London. He will be looking to kick on in his third season for the team and finish higher in the standings.
Drivers - Lucas Di Grassi, Oliver Rowland
Like Envision, Mahindra also brought in one of the biggest names on the Formula E circuit. Lucas Di Grassi, the only driver to take part in a century of races of Formula E, is set to add to his tally with Mahindra Racing for 2023. The Brazilian triumphed in the 2016-17 Formula E season and has three pole positions, 13 wins, and 39 podiums in a career spanning eight seasons. Having moved to Rokit Venturi Racing (now Maserati) for 2022, the Brazilian amassed a total of 126 points, finishing fifth in the standings, with a win at London, alongside three other rostrum appearances. He couldn’t match his teammate Mortara and will be looking to bring his expertise and experience to the Indian outfit for 2023, the latter looking to climb up the grid after a tough 2022 season. He replaces the departing Alexander Sims.
Joining Di Grassi for 2023 will be Oliver Rowland. The Briton continues at Mahindra for the next season and hopes for an improved showing in 2023, following a tough first season for the team in 2022. Although he brought home the team’s only pole position and a podium finish in 2022 at Seoul, he had eight retirements in 2022, a number of them coming from first-lap incidents. He will look to improve his racing on the first laps and string together regular points finishes in 2023.
The team also signed current Formula 2 driver Jehan Daruvala as a reserve driver for the 2023 season
NIO 333 Formula E Team
Drivers -Sérgio Sette Câmara, Dan Ticktum
The final team on our list and second-to-last in the standings last season, NIO 333 have brought in Sergio Sette Camara from the GEOX Dragon Penske (now DS Penske) team to partner Dan Ticktum for the new era of Formula E. Sette Câmara replaces the departing Oliver Turvey. The Brazilian had a tough season in uncompetitive Dragon Penske machinery last time, scoring both of the team’s points in London. That weekend was his best of the season, making it into the duels stage of qualifying and even running as high as third at one point before fading away to finish ninth. Sette Câmara is a vital qualifier and will be looking to take the NIO 333 Team to a robust grid start in 2023.
His teammate will be Dan Ticktum, who heads into his sophomore season of Formula E. His rookie season was one to forget, as an uncompetitive NIO car saw him confined towards the rear of the grid for most of the season. His only season point came in the second race of the Rome E Prix weekend. He pulled off great qualifying performances in Monaco, qualifying 14th, a lofty position for his machinery, and even making it to the Duels stage in Seoul. He will be looking to gain more experience racing on the Formula E grid in 2023.
And that rounds out the driver line-ups of the constructors taking part in the first season of Formula E’s Gen3 era. A raft of exciting names in new outfits are set to take centre stage through the season and will hope to get their hands on that elusive trophy come the season's final round in London on July 30th. The pre-season test may be held at Valencia from December 11th to 15th, and the season proper starts on January 14th in Mexico City. Make sure to tune in for a milestone event in Formula E’s history on that weekend.