The Formulation E low season proved to be a busy time for Andretti World because the American outfit underwent a rebrand and launched a brand new livery. In the meantime, Jake Dennis swapped his #27 for the coveted #1 plate – the Briton’s prerogative as reigning champion.
There was additionally a brand new driver signing for the crew forward of the upcoming season, which will get underway in Mexico Metropolis on 13 January. Andre Lotterer was changed by former Nissan driver Norman Nato after a dismal 2022-23 marketing campaign by which the three-time Le Mans winner scored factors on solely 5 events and failed to achieve the rostrum.
Whereas a alternative for Lotterer got here as no shock to anybody, because the German elected to name time on his single-seater profession and focus his attentions on Porsche’s LMDh programme, Nato’s title was definitely not on the high of the record for a lot of. Particularly with the likes of 2020-21 champion Nyck de Vries again in the marketplace after his temporary foray into Formulation 1.
This season will mark solely Nato’s third full marketing campaign within the all-electric championship, throughout which period the 31-year-old has pushed for 3 totally different groups, however maybe extra considerably, used three totally different powertrains as properly. It places the Frenchman in one thing of a novel place on the Formulation E grid, as even with solely 33 race begins below his belt (far lower than the outright file of 115 at present held by Lucas di Grassi) Nato has extra information than most at his disposal.
It’s an apparent enchantment for the likes of buyer crew Andretti however, additionally poses potential issues of getting to adapt to a brand new system – on this case, Porsche’s powertrain. Nato is all too conscious of the problem he faces at the beginning of this season.
“The difficult half for becoming a member of a brand new crew is when the producer of the powertrain is totally different, from Nissan to Porsche for instance, every little thing is so totally different,” Nato tells Autosport.
“All of the software program, all of the steering wheel is totally different, so that is the difficult half. I’ve to neglect every little thing I’ve discovered at Nissan and simply adapt to every little thing which is new and totally different. I might say set-up-wise it’s a bit totally different, however this adaptation could be fairly fast.
Photograph by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images
Nato joins Andretti after spells with Venturi (Mercedes), Jaguar and Nissan that has given him a broad scope of expertise
“It’s extra the very fact you need to adapt to all the brand new software program, additionally the communication with my engineer and dealing as properly with a brand new crew. The whole lot is totally different and all this stuff for now will not be pure, and it takes you extra vitality, some extra focus that you just’re not spending on solely driving.”
It’s a course of Nato has needed to undergo a number of instances throughout his Formulation E tenure and has meant that usually he struggles to hit the bottom operating throughout a marketing campaign, one thing which is clear in his outcomes. A better take a look at the stats, although, reveals an fascinating pattern in direction of the tip of a marketing campaign and divulges a driver that given sufficient time and the precise surroundings could possibly be a potent asset for Andretti.
Nato’s maiden marketing campaign with Venturi (powered by Mercedes) in 2020-21 was a troublesome baptism of fireside, as he completed within the factors solely 4 instances throughout 15 races. However two of these got here within the Berlin season finale, together with his to date sole Formulation E victory.
“It would take a little bit of time for me at first to adapt, however hopefully as quickly as doable I will probably be on the rostrum and goal primary is to attain factors for the crew to win the groups’ championship” Norman Nato
Solely two race outings adopted the following season as he stuffed in for the injured Sam Fowl at Jaguar in Seoul, ending exterior the factors each instances, earlier than his most up-to-date marketing campaign with Nissan final time period the place as soon as once more the start of the season proved troublesome.
“We paid the value at first of the 12 months by being a brand new crew, we made some errors,” admits Nato, as Nissan break up with DAMS and shaped its personal id, whereas rookie team-mate Sacha Fenestraz confirmed outright tempo however struggled with an absence of expertise.
It meant Nato because the senior driver took on extra duty exterior the automotive, whereas on observe he solely scored two factors finishes within the first 10 races. Come the second half of the 12 months, although, Nato started to hit his stride and scored factors within the last six races. This included a podium behind race winner and new team-mate Dennis in Rome, which helped the Japanese producer beat buyer crew McLaren within the groups’ standings.
This sturdy run of type got here on the proper time and grabbed the eye of an Andretti crew that was clear Lotterer wouldn’t be retained and looking out for a constant factors scorer to assist its groups’ championship credentials. As Nato describes, becoming a member of Andretti was “the right timing to work collectively” and eventually places him in a automotive able to preventing in direction of the entrance, even when the crew and Porsche powertrain misplaced its early season dominance to Jaguar in the course of the course of final 12 months.
With Nato lastly on the wheel of a automotive able to battling for Formulation E wins frequently, it means extra focus than ever will probably be directed in direction of him, even when he admits to not feeling any larger burden.
Photograph by: Andrew Ferraro / Motorsport Images
Nato was Dennis’s closest challenger in Rome final 12 months and now groups up with the reigning champion
“There’s no further strain in a approach,” he says. “Each crew you go to, you wish to do your finest. Proper now, I do know that I’ve a robust package deal, but it surely doesn’t imply that I will probably be on the rostrum each weekend.
“I’m conscious that I’ve a automotive which is persistently able to struggle for podiums and high 5 at the very least. It’s good strain, you’re higher being on this place than being in a automotive the place you understand that it’s going to be troublesome.
“I do know as properly I’m coming to a crew which has expertise, Jake has expertise as properly. I’m subsequent to among the finest drivers at present on the grid, so it’s additionally a superb alternative for me to indicate what I’m able to but it surely doesn’t imply Jake is my goal.
“The primary goal on the finish is to win the groups’ championship. It would take a little bit of time for me at first to adapt, however hopefully, as quickly as doable, I will probably be on the rostrum and goal primary is to attain factors for the crew to win the groups’ championship.”
Nato additionally makes no secret of the truth that he’s trying on the alternative with Andretti as greater than a one-year association as has occurred up to now, and which if given the prospect for a second season with the crew would permit him to construct a stable basis from which to construct on.
“For me, it’s about getting on top of things as quickly as doable and for positive having a protracted relationship with Andretti will allow me perhaps to struggle in some unspecified time in the future for the drivers’ championship, which for positive is a goal as properly,” says Nato.
“We noticed that with Mitch Evans for instance, who for me is without doubt one of the strongest drivers on the grid, he’s been with Jaguar from the start. Similar with Jake, he’s been with Andretti for the reason that starting in Formulation E. For positive it’s a bonus to be for a few years with the identical crew, the identical individuals, constructing a relationship in order that’s undoubtedly the objective.”
Photograph by: Sam Bagnall / Motorsport Images
Common wins and podiums are the objective for Nato as he seeks to make Andretti a everlasting residence