Edoardo Mortara and Gary Paffett have emerged as the favorites to be Felipe Massa’s teammate at Venturi in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship next season.
E-racing365 understands that one of the two Mercedes-AMG works drivers is the likely contender for the second seat at the Monegasque team, with Mortara either remaining or Paffett making his Formula E race debut.
Paffett got his first taste of Formula E at the Marrakesh rookie test in January with Venturi and is said to have impressed the team with his approach and ambition to race in the all-electric series.
Testing of Venturi’s Gen 2 car continues this week with running taking place at Ales in France, with both drivers believed to be in attendance at the four-day test alongside the Brazilian.
Current DTM points leader Paffett spent the 2007 season as teammate with recently-named Venturi team principal Susie Wolff and has undertaken several seasons with HWA, which will join Formula E next season as a Venturi customer ahead of a full Mercedes factory effort in 2019-20.
Mortara has recently tested Venturi’s Gen 2 car and, despite some erratic performances last season, it is understood that some elements of the team would prefer him over a new driver.
The reasoning appears to be based on the Italian/Swiss driver’s flashes of speed and having Formula E experience to assist Massa getting acclimated to the notoriously complex discipline of the all-electric series.
Mortara finished 13th in the points standings this season, having missed three races due to clashing DTM commitments, with a season-best finish of second in Hong Kong.
Tom Dillman, one of Venturi’s other drivers, told e-racing365 that he will not be part of the Monegasque team’s race lineup next season.
Engel “Working Hard” on Continuing Formula E Career
Outgoing Venturi driver Maro Engel is investigating options to continue his Formula E career and could also be in contention for the team’s second seat.
The German, who has appeared in 23 Formula E races for Venturi since the beginning of Season Three, finished 17th and 12th in his two seasons, scoring a best result of fourth at the Paris E-Prix in April.
“There is nothing firmed up or clear for me just now, so we are still in the process of discussing things,” Engel told e-racing365.
“It is not an ideal situation but we are working hard on it and investigating options.
“Formula E is something I want to be part of in the future and I think when things have been right I have delivered some strong results like in Paris.”
Despite improved reliability last season, Venturi still had results compromised with an unexplained straight-line speed issue.
This came after a power spike issue in Hong Kong lost Engel a fourth-place finish.
“There have been frustrations this season like Hong Kong where we were demoted for a brief power spike when I’d driven my heart and soul out after ironically dealing with a 100 kW power loss too,” Engel said.
Engel could also be considered by Venturi customer HWA next season.
E-racing365 understands that several drivers are in the running for the two seats, including Engel, Daniel Juncadella, Lucas Auer, Paul Di Resta, as well as Mortara and Paffett.