Formula E attracts four more F1 drivers

Jarno Trulli
Jarno Trulli / Image Credit: Formula E
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Perspective is everything. Take, for example, the inaugural FIA Formula E championship. To us it's notable as the first global electric racing series. But to racing drivers, it presents a new opportunity. Because while most single-seater racing series occupy one rung or another on the motorsport racing ladder, Formula E is developing a clout all its own. A pioneering one that is apparently very attractive to emerging talents and old hands alike as an alternative to Formula One.

Series organizers launched the Formula E Drivers' Club back in January as a talent pool from which the teams might choose their pilots for the upcoming season. The initial list of eight names included former F1 drivers Sebastien Buemi, Karun Chandhok, Tonio Liuzzi, Takuma Sato and Lucas di Grassi. Bruno Senna, Sebastien Bourdais, Narain Karthikeyan and Christijan Albers – former grand prix drivers all – signed on a few weeks later. And now the series has announced four more drivers who have joined the club.

The list of new recruits includes Jarno Trulli, Nick Heidfeld and Jérôme d'Ambrosio, all three of which have competed in Formula One. They're joined by Sam Bird, who came a close second in the GP2 series last year and has tested F1 machinery as well.

Jarno Trulli remains the only one with an F1 race victory to his name.

Of the drivers now in the club, Jarno Trulli remains the only one with an F1 race victory to his name, having won the Monaco Grand Prix in 2004. Sebastien Bourdais might be the most widely experienced on the grid, having won the Champ Car title four times, come second at Le Mans with Peugeot and competed in F1 for two seasons with Toro Rosso. But it's undoubtedly Lucas di Grassi, who won the Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix in 2005 and drove for Virgin Racing in the 2010 Formula One World Championship, who has the most experience in the Spark-Renault SRT-01E, having been tasked with driving the car during its development. Di Grassi will be partnering with Daniel Abt at the Audi Sport Abt team next season as the only pair to have been confirmed so far.
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Jarno Trulli, Sam Bird, Nick Heidfeld & Jérôme d'Ambrosio add names to Formula E Drivers' Club LONDON|19 MAR 14

Leading drivers Sam Bird, Jarno Trulli, Nick Heidfeld and Jérôme d'Ambrosio have today (19 March) added their names to the burgeoning Formula E Drivers' Club and in doing so showing their support for the new global electric racing series.

Launched in January, the new scheme features a pool of top, international names that all officially endorse the new FIA Formula E Championship and have expressed a willingness to race in the future.

Jarno Trulli is one of the most experienced F1 drivers in the history of the sport, competing in 256 Grand Prix and lies third on the all-time entry list, behind Rubens Barrichello, Michael Schumacher and joint with Riccardo Patrese. The Italian was renowned for his qualifying pace and over the years has competed for Minardi, Prost, Jordan, Renault – where he secured a memorable win on the streets of Monte Carlo – Toyota and Lotus (now Caterham).

Briton Sam Bird, meanwhile, narrowly missed out on the GP2 Series title last season despite claiming an impressive five victories. Prior to this he enjoyed successful campaigns in Formula Renault 3.5 and sampled Formula One machinery of both the Williams and Mercedes F1 teams.

Nick Heidfeld made his F1 debut for Prost before switching to Sauber where he partnered Kimi Räikkönen. Following stints at both Williams F1 and the rebranded BMW Sauber Team, Heidfeld became a regular podium finisher while scoring a total of 259 points. The German attained the last of his 13 podiums in 2011 for Lotus-Renault before shifting focus to the World Endurance Championship and the American Le Mans Series.

Jerome d'Ambrosio competed in Formula Renault 3.5 and GP2 before making his F1 debut in 2011 with Marussia alongside team-mate Timo Glock. He subsequently signed as a reserve driver for Lotus F1, replacing Romain Grosjean at the Italian Grand Prix in 2012 and remained with the team in 2013.
Final driver signings for the inaugural Formula E season will remain up to the individual teams. To date, the Audi Sport ABT Formula E Team has confirmed its line-up in Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt.

Jarno Trulli said: "It's great to be selected as part of the Formula E Drivers' Club. This series has huge potential and I'm excited to see the technological progress of electric vehicles and their place in the future of motorsport."

Sam Bird said: "I am very pleased to become a member of the Formula E Drivers' Club. Electric Vehicle technology will play an increasingly important role in our daily lives and I'm excited to be part of a championship that will not only drive progress in this area forward, but will also show that electric racing will be exciting and entertaining."

Nick Heidfeld said: "I am delighted to be part of the Formula E Drivers' Club. Like many people in and outside the motorsport industry, I have watched its progress for a while. To me it looks like the series of the future and the combination of the highest competition combined with challenging circuits in some of the best cities around the globe really gets me excited."

Jérôme d'Ambrosio said: "Formula E is the future of motor racing. It is exciting to see a platform that is thrilling, glamorous, environmentally friendly and working towards a more sustainable format of racing entertainment."

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