Nato's Venturi FE seat under threat, di Grassi linked as replacement

Formula E rookie Norman Nato is facing increased pressure to hold onto his seat at Venturi Racing and partner race winner Edoardo Mortara for the 2022 season, Autosport understands. 

Nato's Venturi FE seat under threat, di Grassi linked as replacement

Nato was promoted from his reserve driver role at the squad for the 2021 term to replace 11-time Formula 1 race winner Felipe Massa after the Brazilian’s two underwhelming seasons in the series. 

Nato currently sit 21st in the standings, while team-mate Mortara occupies ninth after his podium and victory in Puebla, as fellow rookies Jake Dennis and Nick Cassidy rank fourth and seventh. 

With its current Mercedes powertrain customer deal, Venturi Racing has become an increasingly desirable option on the grid and Nato’s position is under review ahead of the season finale in Berlin. 

Asked about the future Venturi Racing driver line-up at the London E-Prix last month, team principal Susie Wolff told Autosport: “That's going to be a decision we'll have to take pretty quickly after Berlin. 

“We have the situation now where unfortunately one car is pretty high up in the table.  

“The other isn't. 

Nato lost two possible podiums due to penalties, having been disqualified from the second Rome race for exceeding energy limits before losing third place in Valencia to a five-second reprimand for knocking Alex Lynn into a spin. 

Wolff continued: “I think Norman has done a good job for being a rookie.  

“He could have got podiums in Rome and Valencia, which is pretty strong for a first season. 

“But I've got to deliver a good teams’ championship, and that takes two cars to score good points.  

“Certainly, at the end of the season, we'll have to sit down and go 'OK, do we have a situation between the drivers that is maximising the points?'.  

“If we've got one car [high] and one car [low], it's very difficult for the teams' championship.” 

Lucas Di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler

Lucas Di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Lucas di Grassi, the 2016-17 champion, is linked as a possible replacement for Nato. 

This follows Audi’s decision to exit Formula E at the end of the current season combined with the recent collapse of the privateer replacement Abt entry. 

Abt had initially attempted to take over the Audi licence before the deadline for the franchise to change hands elapsed and the entry fell back into central Formula E ownership. 

The long-standing DTM outfit then attempted another takeover but that has been massively stymied in recent months due to commercial limitations.  

However, Di Grassi - who along with Venturi Racing is based on Monaco - still rates his chances of remaining on the grid for 2022 as “over 90%”. 

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He told Autosport: “Thing are looking quite good that I will stay here next season.  

“My main option was to stay with Abt.  

“This is what I always thought of doing when Audi decided to leave.  

“As everything is looking less likely, I have had to look at other options.  

“My options are a bit limited but if I would like to say a probability of staying here, I would say over 90%.”  

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