In just thirty three days, Formula E will once again return to the race track, following months of sim-racing and virtual practicing due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. When the Audi ABT Schaeffler team puts tire to tarmac in Berlin for that first race back, a new driver will be behind the wheel, alongside teammate Lucas di Grassi — René Rast.
The German Rast has been a long-time DTM driver and has claimed overall wins at both the 24 Hours of Nurburgring and Spa. Now, he tries his hand at Formula E, marking not only his first time racing and electric car but also an open-wheel car.
“An open car, completely different sound and completely different focus while testing than compared to the DTM. There were a lot of new experiences during the past few days,” said Rast of his first experience in a Formula E car. “I was very well received in the team and in Lucas I have a very open and experienced teacher at my side. I had a lot of fun with my first kilometers and I’m looking forward to the races in Berlin more and more every day, even if I know that it will be a huge challenge and anything but easy.”
Lucas di Grassi has been helping Rast acclimate to Formula E life but it’s been difficult for the entire team to do so virtually, due to pandemic-required social distancing. Now that they can get back to the track and meet in person, it’s been easier for the team.
“After many weeks of video and telephone conferences, it was nice to be able to work with the team again in real life,” says di Grassi, who has spent the past few months with his family in Brazil and only returned to his adopted home of Monaco a few weeks ago. “We have six races ahead of us that will decide the championship. Everything is still open and, accordingly, we want to come to Berlin perfectly prepared. The testing is an important step on the way there.”
Rast now joins the team following the release of Daniel Abt, who was recently let go for cheating during a sim-race, by having a stand-in sim-racer drive for him. Neither Audi Sport nor the rest of the team has officially stated that Rast is replacing Abt but this news does come immediately after both Abt’s release and his singing with another team, NIO 333.
It will be fascinating to see how the very accomplished Rast fares in an entirely new form of motorsport and how Abt competes against his former team. We’ll find out in Berlin soon enough.