Formula E

"We've given Norman a timeline" - Nato finally arrived at Andretti with Shanghai podium - too late again?

Svenja König

Svenja König

Norman-Nato-on-podium-shanghai

After a season in which not much has gone right so far despite a strong car, Norman Nato suddenly stood on the podium for the first time shortly before the end of the season in Shanghai. A picture that we have not only seen once in previous years towards the end of the season, when the Frenchman rose (too late). Will it be enough for him to defend his cockpit this time? Andretti team principal Roger Griffiths gave Nato a clear message.

Norman Nato on the podium - a picture that brought back memories. Memories of the 2021 Berlin E-Prix, when Nato won the last race of the season for Venturi and was nevertheless replaced by Lucas di Grassi just weeks later. Memories of the 2023 Rome E-Prix, when he finally stood on the podium after two years at Nissan and yet lost his cockpit weeks later. Was his podium in Shanghai the beginning of the end again, this time at Andretti?

"We've given Norman a timeline and he's very aware of that," said Andretti team boss Roger Griffiths during the TV broadcast. "We're not telling him that he has to score a certain number of points by a certain time. He's a professional, he knows what he has to do. We let him speak on the race track."

He made his first impact in Shanghai. With two duel participations and a podium, he spoke on the track as requested by the team boss and showed that he has finally arrived at the US team.

Nato stayed in the top positions right from the start and even did so much leading work that his team became nervous in view of the energy efficiency. In the end, he was beaten by Antonio Felix da Costa and Jake Hughes, but still celebrated a decent success. "I didn't even try to fight with Antonio, he just showed the perfect race."

 
 
 
 
 
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"Every time we've tried something, it's gone wrong"

However, it's been a long road to get there: "I've been on the podium almost every season so far, but the last one was a long time ago, I was a bit thirsty," he jokes after the race. On a more serious note, he adds: "I've realised for a few races that the pace is there. But every time we've tried something that looked right on paper, something has gone wrong. And I've already said to the guys: 'Let's not give up'. We didn't do anything differently today, but to be successful in Formula E, you also have to be patient."

In the overall standings, Nato is in 11th place with 40 points - a healthy midfield position. It is clear that points are undoubtedly important. However, it is also important for the team to have his team-mate around him in the "slipstream battles" so that they can work together on the (attack mode) strategy. Nato was only able to be this "wingman" for team-mate Jake Dennis on very few occasions.

Griffiths: "Decision on Andretti cockpit not yet made"

Self-critical, Nato says: "I just haven't brought it together." Statements like these seem harsh when you consider that he scored no points in his first season at Nissan and has already scored almost twice as many points this season as Andre Lotterer did last season.

 
 
 
 
 
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And something else could give the 31-year-old courage: his victory at the 2021 Berlin E-Prix was at the season finale. That didn't give him the opportunity to confirm this performance. He was able to underline his podium in Rome with two top 10 results in London. This season, he still has two race weekends left, each with two races, to send a meaningful application to Andretti for next season.

And this energy would by no means be wasted, because as Griffiths confirmed once again at the Shanghai E-Prix, the decision regarding the second Andretti cockpit has not yet been made. "But of course, we always look at how the drivers perform." His biggest rival for the Andretti seat is likely to be current Formula 2 driver Zane Maloney, should he not make the leap to Formula 1. The 20-year-old is currently third in the junior series - and has long been part of the Andretti team, for example as a reserve driver.

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