Rene Rast has been announced as the first driver for McLaren’s new Formula E entry.
Rast joins McLaren after a decade with Audi that yielded 24 DTM race victories and three titles, two FIA World Endurance Championship victories, two 24 Hours of Spa wins, a class triumph in the Daytona 24 Hours, and a brace of podiums in Formula E during a season-and-a-half stint with the Audi-backed Abt team.
“I am delighted to join the NEOM McLaren Formula E Team,” said Rast. “As a racing fan, McLaren has always had huge appeal. It’s an iconic name in motorsport with a rich history, so I feel privileged and proud to be able to represent McLaren in Formula E next season.
“I’ve done a season in Formula E before, it was a great experience, and I felt after that year I wasn’t done yet. I’m excited that I am now getting the opportunity to continue that journey.
“I’m extremely motivated and have no doubt we will create something great together. I can’t wait to get started.”
McLaren is joining the all-electric series ahead of its ninth season, the first with the new Gen3 car, after taking over Mercedes’ entry following that team’s departure from the series.
It follows a move into Extreme E for this year, where Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour have competed in what has been not only McLaren’s first electric program, but its first in off-road racing.
The identity of Rast’s Formula E teammate currently remains uncertain. There was early speculation that Felix Rosenqvist could return to the series where he won three times for Mahindra between 2016-19. He was expected to transition to McLaren’s Formula E effort following the signings of Alexander Rossi and Alex Palou for the team’s IndyCar effort. But with Palou’s contractual situation currently unresolved, and the revelation that Rosenqvist isn’t actually under contract with McLaren for next year, the Swede’s next move is not yet clear.
Meanwhile, the announcement of Rast signing up for McLaren’s Formula E foray came a day after he was confirmed as a factory driver for BMW M Motorsport.
While the exact details of his program with the German brand haven’t been outlined yet, its presence in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar series with the new BMW M Hybrid V8 from next year and WEC from 2024 appears to be a likely destination.
“After so many successful years at Audi, I am looking forward to a new challenge,” Rast said of his BMW move. “I followed what has been going on at BMW M Motorsport in the past years and a long time ago, I took my first steps in motor racing in Formula BMW.
“Returning to BMW now, almost 20 years later, is a great story and a logical step for me.”