Formula 2 race winner Theo Pourchaire could be in the running for Sebastien Buemi’s Nissan Formula E seat after undertaking some Gen3 development testing earlier this year.
The ART GP and Sauber Academy driver is currently second in the F2 standings and is already weighing up options for 2023, including trying to secure a step up to F1.
But if a move into F1 for 2023 doesn’t materialise, a switch to Formula E could be one possibility.
Nissan is changing its Formula E programme structure after confirming in April that it had become the sole owner of its licence following a previous arrangement with the e.dams branch of the DAMS group.
Now, The Race can reveal that Pourchaire’s ART GP team will assist Nissan in its Gen3 test and development phase this summer, though it will not formally be part of the managing of the team.
Although Nissan Formula E boss, Tommaso Volpe, would not confirm any ART GP involvement, he did tell The Race last month that “the top management of the team will be Nissan Formula E, this is not going to be outsourced to anyone”.
“So, the key decision makers, the key managers, the key engineers of the team will always be hired by the team, so there won’t be an outsourcing of racing management,” added Volpe.
“We may look at making efficiency with some suppliers, for sure but not taking place over what we’ve got.”
Nissan is expected to retain the majority of its technical staff next season with bolstered resources, but concluded an agreement earlier this year for ART GP to be a supplier for its Gen3 manufacturer test programme, which will begin later this month.
It is believed likely that Maximilian Guenther will stay on at the team for a second campaign in 2023, but as reported by The Race recently, Sebastien Buemi will leave the team after August’s season finale and join the Envision Racing squad.
Nissan is strongly rumoured to have held talks with Nyck de Vries in recent months, but the reigning champion is believed to be considering other options in both Formula E and the World Endurance Championship with Toyota.
The reigning Formula E champion will be at this week’s Le Mans 24 Hours with Toyota in his official capacity as test and reserve driver, a role he has held since July 2020.
It is unclear if a clash of brand representation and a likely prioritising of programmes from Toyota has affected the likelihood of a possible De Vries to Nissan move.
Ironically, Buemi has held the same dual discipline and Japanese brand representation role with Nissan and Toyota since 2018.
De Vries told German TV station Prosieben at last month’s Berlin E-Prix that he would “probably” race in Formula E next season, “but not for McLaren”.
Pourchaire’s secret test, held in Spain earlier this year, was conducted by Spark Racing Technologies as part of the initial development of the Gen3 development car. Six of the seven manufacturers have now received their official test cars in readiness for their own private testing programmes that begin this month.
Maserati, although technically a registered manufacturer, does not receive a car due to its status as an additional ‘make’ from the Stellantis Group of companies under the same homologation.
Spark has used several non-F1 drivers before in its Formula E testing, including a young de Vries in 2015 and the late Antoine Hubert in 2017. It has used three-time Le Mans winner Benoit Treluyer for the bulk of its Gen3 testing since last autumn.