Over the years, Formula E has become a haven for ex-F1 drivers and current F1 reserve drivers. The all-electric series is also becoming an increasingly attractive option for Formula 2 and Formula 3 stars.
The season 10 Formula E grid consists of six former F1 drivers, in the form of Stoffel Vandoorne, Jean-Éric Vergne, Sébastian Buemi, Pascal Wehrlein, Lucas di Grassi and Nyck de Vries. De Vries left Formula E at the end of season eight to complete his move to AlphaTauri, a relationship which ended after just 10 races.
The season seven World Champion has opted to make his Formula E comeback following his short-lived F1 career with the Mahindra Racing squad.
Former F2 stars are also starting to have an increasing presence in the paddock, as Jake Hughes, Dan Ticktum, Sérgio Sette Câmara and Maximilian Günther all entered Formula E directly from the feeder series. Jehan Daruvala is the latest driver to have made this move, with him being the only rookie on the grid for the sport’s 10th campaign.
If this isn’t proof enough that Formula E is becoming a more attractive option for drivers to exit their junior career, you only need to look at the range of F2 and F3 youngsters who have recently participated in various tests in the championship.
19-year-old Taylor Barnard is the most recent F3 driver to complete a test in Formula E, something he did during the recent official pre-season test, thanks to the NEOM McLaren Formula E Team. In his debut F3 campaign, Barnard became a race winner at Spa-Francorchamps.
18-year-old F3 driver Hugh Barter is another to have taken part in a Formula E test within the past year, courtesy of Maserati MSG Racing in the Berlin rookie test.
F2’s Victor Martins and Zane Maloney are another two junior stars who are increasingly present in the paddock, as a result of their work with Nissan and Andretti respectively.
There is no hiding the fact that Formula E is attracting younger drivers who are recognising the series as an appropriate alternative to F1; however, it’s not currently where Schumacher wants to be.
The son of seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher simply likes “the smell of petrol” too much to say goodbye to “combustion engines”, with him openly admitting that “at the moment” Formula E just isn’t the right career move for him despite it being a successful route for ex-F1 drivers and future stars.
“To be completely honest: no,” Schumacher admitted to TuttoMotori, as quoted by e-formula.news.
“I like combustion engines, I like the smell of petrol. Unfortunately, Formula E is not the right thing for me at the moment.”
Whilst a seat on the season 11 grid isn’t on Schumacher’s radar, he isn’t prepared to completely rule out ever making a Formula E appearance in the future, especially as motorsport in general continues to work towards moving away from combustion engines.
For the time being, he’s still just “really interested” in competing in championships where the engine “smells and bangs and fires”, something which is becoming increasingly difficult to find.
“But who knows what the future will bring,” added the German.
“If that’s what we can still drive then, I’ll obviously have to set my expectations a little differently. But I love the old-school cars: V10, V8, when it smells and bangs and fires, and so on. That’s what I’m really interested in.”