Rene Rast praises McLaren ahead of Berlin E-Prix: "The best team I've ever worked for!"
Three years after his unexpected Formula E debut with Audi, Rene Rast returns next weekend to the place where it all began for him in the electric series: Berlin. With his new employer McLaren, the German is hoping for a better result than last time in Brazil. He should also be helped by the precise working methods of the papaya orange, which Rast had so "never before" experienced in motorsport.
It has been around three years since Rene Rast first climbed into Audi's Formula E car. At a test at the Lausitzring, the German, who was signed shortly before as a replacement for current ProSieben pundit Daniel Abt, was to prepare for the mammoth conclusion of the 2020 season. Six races within nine days were scheduled - all of them at the airport circuit in Berlin-Tempelhof.
"I didn't know anything back then," Rast recalls of his early days in the Gen2 car. In a media round, which was also attended by 'e-Formel.de,' he reports, "I was used to always going full throttle and not worrying about even getting to the finish line. But it was exactly the aspect that drivers can make a difference in certain situations that made it so interesting for me."
Rast "directly noticed why the team became world champion"
After the six-race finale in Germany, Audi signed Rast for the 2021 season. Driving alongside Lucas di Grassi, Rast scored six fastest race laps that year and finished on the podium at the Puebla E-Prix in Mexico. Then the Ingolstadt-based company pulled out of the series - and Rast initially went with them. After a Formula E sabbatical year, the German has been back on the grid of the electric series since this season. His new employer: McLaren Racing.
"When I joined them, I noticed straight away why the team has already won the world championship twice," Rast says of the British racing team, which took over the grid and much of the personnel from championship-winning team Mercedes before the season. "They are very structured and have excellent people in all positions. The work structure is a bit different than I know it from Audi. I can't go into that exactly because those are internals. But there are big differences in the way work is done. I had to get used to that."
The predecessor team, Mercedes, had a reputation in recent years for running its own Formula E operations with an almost clinical precision. Procedures were rehearsed in great detail and followed precise schemes. "German workmanship," joked some observers in the paddock. As is the case today, the team was always under the direction of Ian James, who - despite his excellent knowledge of German - is British.
Thanks to precise work "almost at Formula 1 level" to success at the home race?
The English identity of the team is now also felt by Rene Rast. "I've never worked for an English team before," says the race driver. "Of course, English was also spoken at Audi, but it was more of a 'Denglish' mix with German. The British have their own language and their own pace, which I had to get used to."
"Also because of the language, the speed at which they call up their processes is higher than at Audi. But also fundamentally, Team McLaren is on a high level. It's probably the best team I've ever worked for. It's very close to a Formula One level."
With the British racing team, Rast returns next weekend to the place of his Formula E beginnings. The race at the Berlin airfield circuit is one of the "highlights" of the season, says Rast, "especially for me as a German driver. I've driven eight races there, and each time it's been a special experience. Hopefully we can translate that into results and keep driving up front."
"We'll have to wait and see whether the track suits the car. Funnily enough, Sao Paulo has not been our track recently - we weren't quite as strong as usual in qualifying. But in recent weeks we've taken steps thanks to which we can hopefully finish up front again." There will be two races in Berlin this year, held on April 22 and 23, 2023. ProSieben will broadcast the rounds live on TV, e-Formel.de will accompany the entire weekend with exclusive background reports directly from the race track as well as in a live ticker.