Rene Rast is set for a return to Formula E in 2023 and is in discussions to take a seat with the newly confirmed McLaren Formula E Team that was unveiled last Saturday in Berlin.
German media reported last weekend in Berlin that Rast was a strong contender for a Formula E return but with a berth within the ABT stable that will return to the grid next season.
However, The Race understands that advanced talks between McLaren and Rast’s representative, Dennis Rostek, continued in Berlin last weekend and that the German is the preferred option to replace DS-bound Stoffel Vandoorne for 2023.
Should the move be finalised it will be viewed by some as a surprise. But the current Mercedes EQ team, in particular its team principal Ian James and technical team headed by Nick Chester, are known to have been impressed with data studied via Rast’s performances last season.
This is because last September, the German was scoped out as a potential replacement for Nyck de Vries, had the 2021 champion completed a heavily rumoured move to Formula 1 for 2022.
Rast made his Formula E debut at the 2016 Berlin E-Prix for the Team Aguri squad before deputising for the dismissed Daniel Abt in the summer of 2020. He was then offered the full-time role at Audi alongside Lucas di Grassi for the 2021 season.
Rast’s last Formula E race came at Berlin in August 2021 to round off a frustrating season in which he finished a largely unrepresentative 13th in the points standings.
Prior to last season, Rast had been a revelation at the Tempelhof circuit when he took a third and fourth position in the final two races of the 2019-20 season.
Rast is currently contracted to Audi Sport and was set for a drive in the recently halted Audi LMDh project. This season he is racing in the WEC with WRT, where he shares an LMP2 car with fellow Formula E driver Robin Frijns and ex-Formula 2 racer Sean Gelael.
McLaren looks increasingly likely to have a complete change of driver line-up for its first season in Formula E as Nyck de Vries is known to be looking at other options.
These include both a Formula E seat with the potential of also racing in the World Endurance Championship with Toyota, with whom he currently works as an official reserve and test driver.
De Vries, who will drive for Williams in first practice for F1’s Spanish Grand Prix this weekend, is also talking to other Formula E teams about a deal for the Gen3 era and could still compete in a dual programme with a possible full-time WEC role.
McLaren is known to be talking to a pool of drivers and their representatives at present should de Vries move on. These are said by several paddock sources to include Sergio Sette Camara, Jake Dennis, Maximilian Guenther and Oliver Turvey.
Speaking to The Race in Berlin, James said that he was comfortable with the “reasonable position” he and the team were in at the moment regarding its situation with drivers.
“For the team, operationally – and I include the drivers in that – what I’ve tried to make sure is that we’re not distracted by everything that’s going on in the background to set ourselves up for the future,” he said.
“We’re very focused on this season, on season eight, on delivering that, and in due course, we’ll fix our line-up for season nine.”