Silly season: Jaguar's driver swap rumors, Lotterer's future & the keys to the 2024 Formula E driver market
A vacant cockpit at Andretti and the teammates crashing at Jaguar's factory team could become the driving force in the driver market for the 2024 Formula E season. Many questions are still unanswered, such as the contractual future of Formula E veterans Bird, Lotterer, Rowland and Günther. Here's what we know about the early options for the tenth season.
The 2023 Formula E season is not yet over, but behind the scenes in the paddock, the game of musical chairs for the 2024 racing year is slowly but surely picking up speed. For several weeks now, drivers whose contracts expire before the coming season have been offering themselves to potential new employers. At the same time, equally motivated and talented drivers are pushing into Formula E from outside and vying for the favor of team bosses.
Drugovich interested in Maserati - but who should go?
One of them could be Formula 2 talent Felipe Drugovich. The Brazilian completed his first electric outing as part of the rookie test in Berlin and set the best lap time of the day there for Maserati MSG. Team boss James Rossiter must have been impressed by this performance. And so it won't come as a surprise that The Race also recently reported that "Drugo" is to be one of the main contenders for a permanent seat at the Monegasque team.
A crucial hurdle: Edoardo Mortara, the Maserati driver who has performed worse so far this season, is said to have a contract until the end of the 2024 season. Günthers deal, negotiated after the last-minute Formula 1 move of Nyck de Vries, on the other hand, is said to cover only the 2023 season and have an option for furhter years. Would Rossiter part with race winner Günther to take on a barely experienced rookie in Drugovich? At the moment, that seems unlikely.
Does Rossiter terminate Mortara's contract early? Financially and contractually, that would be risky, but nothing unusual in motorsports. Either way, Drugovich could take on a bigger role in the team in 2024, including as a test or reserve driver, for example.
Lotterer future unclear, several candidates for his succession
The substitute driver route was also chosen by David Beckmann in previous years. The German joined Porsche's ranks this year, having previously spent a season as a reserve driver at Andretti. He also jumped in for the U.S. racing team at the 2023 Jakarta E-Prix and put in a solid performance, although he also did not necessarily set the world alight with a 16th place finish and a DNF. e-Formula.news understands that Beckmann also plans to remain in Formula E in some capacity in 2024. But the chances of an Andretti cockpit currently seem better for other drivers.
It is rumored that a seat at the Indianapolis-based team may well become vacant, though: Andre Lotterer's contract ends after the 2023 season. Given his increased focus on Porsche's endurance program, it currently seems unlikely that the German will still be racing in Formula E next year. His race results so far also give team boss Roger Griffiths few arguments to keep Lotterer for another year. Jake Dennis could very well get a new teammate.
Beckmann is an option for this, but so are two other drivers from the UK. Foremost among them is Oliver Rowland, who started the 2023 season for Mahindra but left the team by mutual agreement before the E-Prix in Indonesia. Previously, rumors circulated through the paddock that Rowland was highly dissatisfied with the performance of the Mahindra powertrain. Andretti, however, is an attractive alternative for Rowland, thanks to Porsche power. Years of Formula E experience, race wins and pole positions are also good arguments for signing the Brit.
Will Jaguar & Envision swap drivers?
It's also a list of good arguments for another current Formula E driver, though: Sam Bird. The 36-year-old is currently under intense pressure at Jaguar, after accidents, bad luck, technical glitches and penalties cost him and his team from numerous good results. In the championship, Bird has 60 points less than teammate Mitch Evans, and the qualifying standings are also 9-3 in favor of the New Zealander.
Rumors are brewing that Nick Cassidy (currently: Envision) will move from the customer team to the factory team. Bird, on the other hand, could link up with Envision as part of a swap deal. Returning to his first team (then under the Virgin name) would be a nice coincidental touch. Or he would become Lotterer's Andretti successor. The experienced Brit still has some options.
Stability expected for 2024 Formula E driver field
That leaves the remaining teams: Nio 333 test driver Daniil Kvyat is interested in racing in Formula E, while Mahindra is likely to weigh up between Lucas di Grassi, Roberto Merhi and Jehan Daruvala. McLaren will likely have to negotiate a solution as to how they can/are allowed to continue with BMW factory driver Rene Rast. However, a dual program does not currently seem impossible, especially considering that his drivers' results should make Ian James optimistic that Hughes and Rast are also good options for the papaya squad in 2024.
No rumors at all yet from the camps of DS Penske, Nissan, Porsche and ABT Cupra. Changes are theoretically possible here, but equally a stay of the current driver duos. This also fits into the picture of the driver carousel for the 2024 season so far: The silly season for next year has not really picked up speed yet. But as teams will have to take their first decisions soon, it probably won't be long before it does.