McLaren have announced the signing of Rene Rast to spearhead their attack on Formula E when they enter for the 2022/23 season. The German driver announced yesterday that he was leaving Audi due to a lack of racing programmes and signed a deal with BMW. He had previously raced for Audi in Formula E between 2019 and 2021, scoring a best result of second in Mexico in '21 before returning to the DTM for '22 – a series where he is a three-time champion. McLaren are taking over the Mercedes entry in FE – the German squad having defended their Teams' championship in 2021/22, and Stoffel Vandoorne taking the Drivers' crown. Mercedes' other driver, Nyck de Vries, was champion in 2020/21.
Rast's McLaren teammate uncertain
In a statement, Rast said that he was "delighted" to join a team with such a "huge appeal" and is "privileged and proud to present McLaren in Formula E [as] it's an iconic name in motorsport with a rich history". The identity of his teammate was not revealed as McLaren are faced with a case of too many drivers and not enough seats to put them in. Current IndyCar star Felix Rosenqvist was linked with a switch across to FE, but he wants to remain in the US as opposed to an electric racing return. Elsewhere, the IndyCar operation is embroiled in a saga with reigning champion Alex Palou, trying to extract him from his contract with Chip Ganassi Racing. The case has been taken to court, as Ganassi feels it has a contract with the Spanish driver – who has been tempered by the possible lure of an F1 seat.
What does this mean for F1 and Ricciardo?
McLaren have also signed Alexander Rossi for 2023 in IndyCar, with current driver Pato O'Ward set to stay having seen his own F1 dream end by the apparent signing of Oscar Piastri. Daniel Ricciardo is set to be effectively sacked by the team for poor F1 performances, with McLaren having swooped under Alpine's nose to prise their star junior driver Piastri away. The British team also tested Colton Herta in a 2021-spec car recently, but have not offered him, or fellow tester O'Ward, a race seat in place of Ricciardo. The only McLaren driver across their motorsport operation unaffected by the merry-go-round is Lando Norris.