Venturi has announced the signing of GT racer Maro Engel to partner Stephane Sarrazin for season three of the FIA Formula E championship.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Obviously it’s going to be a challenge but I’m looking forward to it and testing so far has been a very good transition.”
Engel, who will be replacing British driver Mike Conway at the team, currently competes in the VLN championship, with previous experience in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters as well as spending 2013 in Australia tackling V8 Supercars.
Having been a fan since the inaugural ePrix back in 2014, the German sees Formula E as a series that is a must-race-in for any driver and praised the exclusive nature of the street circuits used in the championship.
“I started following Formula E from season one and the first race. For me it’s an exciting series and a series that with every day keeps growing,” explained Engel. “It’s got great drivers and fantastic venues, great teams with more and more manufacturers joining, so as a driver it’s a series that you definitely want to be a part of.
“Racing on streets circuits, in my opinion, is the most challenging form of racing there is. There’s no discussion on track limits, the challenge for the drivers is huge and one positive is that we’re bringing racing to the city, so the spectator basically walks out of their doorstep and they are straight at the track as opposed to having to come out to a race track. It’s something that, from what I’ve seen, has been received very well from the public.”
Engel went on to explain that the initial contact with Venturi was made over a year go, having been offered a test by the team.
“The first contact with Venturi was just over a year ago. I got the opportunity to test their car before season two. It was just a short test, about 20 or 30 laps, but it was a great opportunity for me to get the feel of what it is like to drive a Formula E car. It’s an experience I really enjoyed, I remember it and it went extremely well, I had a very good feeling with the car.
“After that, at the beginning of 2016, Venturi gave me the opportunity to test and take on the development work for the season three car and I was very happy to do that. From there on we spent a lot of time developing the car and it gave me a very good insight into the Formula E car and what Formula E really is about and it’s something I really enjoyed. When the opportunity came up to race the car obviously I was extremely happy.”
Despite having not raced in single seaters since 2007, when Engel took the runner-up spot in the British F3 Championship, the German is relishing the opportunity to return to an open wheel category and believes he should have no issues in re-adapting to the style of vehicle.
“It’s a challenge I’m looking forward to. It’s certainly been a while, but in testing so far I’ve really adapted very quickly back into a Formula car. You have to say that cars such as DTM, for example, they are touring cars but they probably resemble a Formula car much more in terms of the downforce they produce and the handling of the car. Obviously it’s going to be a challenge but I’m looking forward to it and testing so far has been a very good transition.”
Engel finished by praising his new team mate, Stephane Sarrazin, and will look to the Frenchman for guidance in building success in the championship.
“It’s great to have Stephane as my team mate because he’s been a part of the series from the very beginning and been very successful with a good second season with Venturi. It’s great to have him in the team and certainly I’ll be looking to learn from his knowledge that he’s built up, hopefully together we can push the team on and make it a successful season for all of us.”
Engel will be in action for the team when testing kicks off at Donington Park before making his race debut in Hong Kong when the championship gets underway on 9th October.
Topher Smith | e-racing.net