Nissan set to replace Renault in Formula E

Speedcafe.com

Thursday 12th October, 2017 - 1:20pm

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Sebastien Buemi in a Renault e.Dams during pre-season testing in Valencia

Nissan will reportedly replace its alliance partner Renault in Formula E from as early as 2018/19.

According to reports in Autosport, multiple sources have confirmed that Nissan will move into the all-electric series as the alliance optimises its factory programs for both manufacturers.

Mike Carcamo, the boss of Nissan’s global motorsport arm NISMO, visited the Renault e.dams Formula E team and the FIA during last week’s Valencia pre-season test.

He was already in Spain for the previous weekend’s Blancpain GT season finale at Barcelona.

Nissan is one of the biggest sellers of electric vehicles in the world and is the ideal option for the alliance to maintain a presence in Formula E, while representing a huge coup for the series.

Formula E is without representation from a Japanese manufacturer at present, but series CEO Alejandro Agag told Autosport at Valencia that he expected that to change.

Asked about Nissan, Toyota and Honda, Agag said, “One of those three, maybe two, will end up” in Formula E, but he declined to comment on which manufacturer and when it would be.

Honda has expressed an interest in the category but played down prospects of an entry in the short-term as it focuses on its beleaguered Formula 1 engine program.

Toyota, which is currently reviewing its World Endurance Championship participation in the wake of its rival manufacturers exiting the LMP1 category, is understood to have had contact with Formula E in the past but has never formally registered a desire to compete.

Official confirmation from Nissan is not thought to be imminent, with an announcement at next year’s Geneva Motor Show believed to be a strong possibility.

Renault e.dams launched its 2017/18 challenger, the Z.E.17, last month at an event in Paris, likely precluding any major rebranding for this season, with something official for the 2018/19 season expected.

The move will bring Nissan back to the forefront of a major international racing category for the first time since axing its failed LMP1 project at the end of 2015, and allow Renault to focus on its rapidly-growing Formula 1 program.

It also means Formula E’s most successful manufacturer will exit the series.

Renault ramped up its partnership with e.dams for the 2015/16 season, and won the drivers’ and teams’ titles before helping e.dams to a hat-trick of teams’ honours last season.

As e.dams holds the Formula E entry, it is expected to remain in place as the operating team.

The position of lead driver Sebastien Buemi is understood to not be under threat, despite racing for Nissan’s rival Japanese manufacturer Toyota in the WEC.

Toyota blessed Buemi’s commitment to Formula E and the 2015/16 champion and team-mate Nico Prost signed fresh deals with Renault e.dams earlier this year, keeping them at the team until the end of the 2018/19 season.