Nato replaces Massa at Venturi FE team

The Venturi Racing Formula E squad has promoted its reserve driver Norman Nato to the race team to replace Felipe Massa for the 2020/21 season.

Nato replaces Massa at Venturi FE team
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French driver Nato, who has competed in the LMP1 ranks of the FIA World Endurance Championship for Rebellion Racing, has served as Venturi's simulator and reserve driver since 2018.

He has now been called up to replace 11-time Formula 1 race winner Massa, whose exit from Venturi was announced minutes after the finish of the final race of the 2019-20 campaign.

Nato will partner Edoardo Mortara, with the 2019 Hong Kong E-Prix victor set to contest his fourth season for the Monegasque outfit.

"I'm ready and I know it's going to be difficult," Nato told Motorsport.com. "I need time to learn but the main goal for me is to have no regrets at the end of the year.

"The most important thing is to score points every weekend. That's the only target we have so far."

Nato, 28, took part in the Marrakesh rookie test last season, setting the sixth fastest time on a 1m17.302s to outpace his temporary teammate Arthur Leclerc by 0.7s.

He was also quicker than rookies Jake Hughes and Daniel Juncadella, who contested the two sessions for Mercedes, of which Venturi is a powertrain customer.

Nato added: "After the Marrakesh rookie test was quite successful with the team, I knew it could be an opportunity for the seat for next season.

"I spent a lot of days in the simulator. And to be honest, as I say to Susie [Wolff, Venturi team principal], I did the best I could to show to the team that I'm ready for Formula E and I deserve the seat.

"Just being in the simulator during the race weekend was quite frustrating because most of the guys who are racing in Formula E are the guys I've been fighting with in the past so I couldn't wait to go and finally race with them."

Nato has risen through junior categories such as World Series by Renault and both GP2 and FIA Formula 2 competing against FE incumbents Robin Frijns, Stoffel Vandoorne and Nico Muller.

Motorsport.com understands that Nato had also been in talks with other FE teams about a seat if the Venturi option did not become available – possibly Dragon and NIO 333.

Wolff added: "As our reserve driver, Norman has proven his ability at every available opportunity, not only showing speed during in-season testing but also demonstrating clear commitment to his role in our simulator.

"The decision to promote him to a full-time race seat is indicative of his contribution to the team so far - he has earned the opportunity to show us what he can do behind the wheel.

The 2020/21 calendar, the seventh season of FE, is set to commence in Santiago on January 16.

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