Will Formula E's newest winner lose his drive? - The Race
Formula E

Will Formula E’s newest winner lose his drive?

Aug 16 2021
By Sam Smith

Berlin E-Prix victor Norman Nato’s memorable win is likely to be his sign-off from Formula E for now.

The Venturi driver scored the team’s second win of the season with an assured drive in which he rose from sixth on the grid to control the closing stages of the 2021 finale.

Nato’s contribution of 37 points from his fourth and first positions over the Berlin weekend helped Venturi vault Mahindra and Porsche in the teams’ table to reach seventh position.

It ensured that the Monegasque outfit enjoyed its most successful season since it took the same position in the 2017/18 campaign, and its biggest ever points haul.

But now Nato is strongly rumoured to be in danger of being replaced next season, as the team evaluates its driver line-up in the coming weeks.

Spacesuit Media Shiv Gohil 265064

The Race understands that Monaco-domiciled Lucas di Grassi’s representatives have already had discussions with the team about a possible one-season deal for the former Audi driver.

Di Grassi’s camp had previously spoken to Nissan e.dams at the London E-Prix about the vacancy left by Mahindra-bound Oliver Rowland but talks these were discontinued shortly after.

Nato, aware that his future in Formula E is uncertain, told The Race in Berlin that the exploding Hypercar and LMDh scene is of great importance to him.

The Frenchman has had a parallel sportscar career since 2018, which has included World Endurance Championship race wins and a second place in the Le Mans 24 Hours with Rebellion’s LMP1 squad.

Rebellion Le Mans 2020

“Obviously endurance is something for me, which is really important,” Nato told The Race..

“I’m only 29 years old, there are manufacturers coming back in endurance, so obviously I’m looking for what to do in 2023 and to see where I’m going.

“For me the target is to stay in endurance, that’s for sure.”

When pressed on his Formula E activity with Venturi, Nato said prior to his win that he was “doing really good progress” and felt he had already deserved two podiums.

Formula E Rome E Prix 2021

This was a reference to the Rome and Valencia events in April. On the first occasion he finished third in the second race only to be disqualified for running out of usable energy.

Then at Valencia he also took third on the road but was shuffled down to fifth after a five-second penalty was applied for contact with Alex Lynn’s Mahindra.

Nato reckoned that “with one more year of experience I’m pretty sure I could fight for good positions” and could therefore “stay in Formula E” but he added “for sure I’m not going to quit endurance”.

Many drivers have completed dual programmes in Formula E and the WEC or GT3 racing but more and more manufacturers are insisting on drivers prioritising their programmes in each discipline.

“I am in Formula E but I am in endurance too,” Nato added.

“I’m talking with some manufacturers in endurance and for sure they don’t want a driver with both [programmes] so at some point we’ll have to make a choice.

“Like in endurance, with the manufacturer I’m talking about, they don’t want a Formula E driver, let’s be clear.

Fia Formula E Berlin Eprix

“In Formula E it’s going to come pretty soon so I will have to discuss with Venturi and maybe some other teams what’s the best opportunity.

“I have my ideas on what I want to do in the future, the teams as well they have their expectations, so let’s see what is possible or not.

“If I can find and manage to do Formula E and endurance at the same time it will be perfect. If not I will choose what’s the best for my future.”

Ahead of winning the final race of the season, Nato said he would be open to still working with Venturi even if he lost his race seat for 2022.

He previously held a position as development and reserve driver for the team between 2018 and 2020.

“Venturi for sure they want the best for the team and not only for one year but for the future and on my side this is [the case] as well,” he said.

“We have a pretty honest relationship with Susie [Wolff] and the team in general.

“So if Susie is going to tell me ‘OK that’s what we need, you are good to sign this contract’ or on my side that ‘this is what I want to do’, this is something that can fit with the team and then we decide together.”

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