The FIA's new Formula E Championship has revealed the first eight drivers to show support for the series by signing up to its official 'Drivers' Club', and six of them have F1 experience.
Former grand prix racers Sebastien Buemi, Karun Chandhok, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Lucas di Grassi and Takuma Sato are joined by Friday practice irregular Ma Qing Hua as well as IndyCar's Marco Andretti – who has tested F1 machinery – and rising star Adrien Tambay - whose father, like Andretti's, raced in the top flight - in endorsing the new electrically-motivated championship, and all have expressed an interest in racing the Spark-Renault SRT_01E in the future.
The Drivers' Club scheme will give each the opportunity to get track time in the car, which has been designed exclusively for Formula E by Spark Racing Technologies, in conjunction with leading motorsport names including Dallara, McLaren, Williams, Renault and Michelin.
”We're delighted to be starting the New Year, which of course is a very important one for Formula E, on such a positive note by announcing our new Drivers' Club,” said Alejandro Agag, CEO of series promoter Formula E Holdings, “From the very beginning, we have set out to deliver great racing to fans across the globe and, to do that, you need high calibre drivers.
“Now that we've announced all ten teams, everyone is keen to find out who the drivers will be. Of course, we cannot confirm
any drivers just yet, as it will be down to the individual teams to select who fills their seats. However, we hope by offering them a 'pool' of top international drivers to choose from – all of whom support the new series – we can deliver on this promise of providing close, entertaining racing in city-centres around the world.
“We also hope it will showcase to fans, TV broadcasters and potential sponsors the high profile names Formula E is attracting and the level of drivers they can expect to see race come September.”
A further ten drivers will be revealed over the coming weeks via the championship's official website, but today's announcement means that di Grassi will no longer act as the sole official Formula E test driver.
“I'm very happy to be a part of the new Formula E Drivers' Club,” former Toro Rosso racer and current Red Bull reserve Buemi noted, “Motorsport should be seen to be the leader in developing and pushing new sustainable technologies, so it will be great to see how this will influence not only motorsport but future road cars and the environment. The calendar is very strong and brings the racing to the fans, and the new Formula E car looks like it will be a lot of fun to drive.”
While Andretti's links to the series come from his father's team having taken up one of the ten entries, Chandhok has a personal connection to the promoter.
“Alejandro Agag has been a friend of mine for a number of years since our time in GP2,” the Indian confirmed, “I've been speaking with him since the early days of Formula E and I'm very happy to be a part of the Drivers' Club for the series. The calendar looks great, as do the cars and it should be a great new way to go motor racing.”