Andre Lotterer will miss Formula E’s Jakarta double-header in June and be replaced at the Avalanche Andretti team by former Formula 2 driver David Beckmann.
The move, which is expected to be officially confirmed shortly, was triggered by Lotterer having to attend the Le Mans 24 Hours test day held on the same weekend as the Indonesian double-header.
Alongside his FE programme with Porsche customer team Andretti, Lotterer is also racing in the World Endurance Championship with the new Penske Porsche operation, and his deal requires him to prioritise his LMDh activities.
Lotterer will compete in the whole 2023 WEC season alongside Kevin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor in the #6 Porsche 963 entry.
Although there is once again significant line-up crossover between Formula E and the WEC this year, Lotterer is the only driver who will have to miss FE races as a result.
Antonio Felix da Costa (Porsche in FE/Jota Porsche in WEC), Sebastien Buemi (Envision FE/Toyota WEC), Nico Mueller (Abt FE/Peugeot WEC) and Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Penske FE/Peugeot WEC) will all prioritise the Formula E races over their Le Mans preparations.
Additionally, Robin Frijns is expected to return to FE racing with Abt before June as he continues to recover from hand injuries inflicted in the Mexico City E-Prix in January. He will be a part of the WRT’s LMP2 squad for a third successive season and is also expected to be confirmed as a BMW WEC Hypercar driver from 2024 onwards.
As first reported by the Motorsport Magazin website, Lotterer will stand down from his FE drive for the Indonesia weekend and Beckmann is expected to deputise.
The 22 year-old German will take one of the seats at Porsche in the forthcoming Berlin rookie test, which will take place on Monday April 24.
He spent last season working with the Andretti team, while in 2023 he has become an official FE reserve for the factory Porsche team – which also gives Andretti access to him.
Beckmann’s junior single-seater pedigree
David Beckmann is probably best known to most motorsport fans as ‘the guy with a name I always misread as David Beckham’ but there’s obviously plenty more to him beyond mistaken identity.
First off, he made a strong impression in F4 despite making his debut only a week after he turned 15 years old in 2015 – two years on from fighting Mick Schumacher in karts. He didn’t quite live up to that potential in F3 but did deliver a sensational run of results in GP3 after an inspired mid-season team switch in 2018.
After scoring just 12 points for Jenzer at the first four rounds, he switched to Trident and claimed back-to-back feature race wins at Spa and Monza and picked up a reversed-grid win at Sochi to climb to fifth in the standings.
This prompted ART Grand Prix to sign him when GP3 became FIA Formula 3 in 2019 but Beckmann was thoroughly outshone by his team-mate, current IndyCar driver Christian Lundgaard, and was 13th in the points when he dropped out of the final round due to a family emergency. A return to Trident then allowed for an improved 2020 that featured two reversed-grid race wins.
His F2 career started brightly with a reverse-grid podium in his debut race but he left Charouz after four rounds, raced for Campos for two rounds and then dropped off the grid before returning for a partial campaign in 2022 which yielded a best finish of fifth.
His late-season GP3 heroics aside, Beckmann never quite delivered on the promise his early car racing career teased. But he’s now got a chance to follow the lead of recent fellow F2 graduates like Jake Hughes, Sergio Sette Camara and Maximilian Guenther in establishing a career in Formula E despite never fully realising his potential on the junior single-seater ladder.
Beckmann has to make his Formula E debut mid-season, an unenviable task for a rookie, but the scale of the challenge would make any kind of result a real achievement – and provide food for thought for the team when it decides its 2024 driver line-up.
A Porsche spokesperson confirmed to The Race that Lotterer would be in attendance at the Le Mans test day on Sunday June 4, which will be the first time he has driven the track since 2019 when he raced to fourth place in his 11th Le Mans with Rebellion Racing.
The Race revealed last June that Lotterer was heading to Avalanche Andretti after a deal between Porsche and the team was agreed for the 2023 season.
Initially, the 2022 season was set to be his last in Formula E but an approach from Porsche to Andretti about the possibility of running him to maximise knowledge of Porsche’s operations and technical management of Gen3 was agreed last summer.
Lotterer has had a disappointing campaign so far as he seems to have struggled to adapt to the Gen3 cars as quickly as his team-mate Jake Dennis and works Porsche drivers Pascal Wehrlein and da Costa, who between them have won all but one of the five races held so far this season.
Lotterer appeared to lack some confidence at the high-speed Cape Town track during free practice and qualifying last weekend and was forced to make several changes to his car for the race.
He then came through to his third ninth place in five races, although he did finish seventh on the road only to be penalised five seconds for failing to keep 10 car lengths behind a competitor under a safety car.