Ex Haas and Sauber Formula One driver Esteban Gutierrez will replace Ma Qing Hua at Techeetah, for the remainder of the 2016/2017 Formula E season, according to a motosport.com report. Gutierrez had been scheduled to make his Formula E debut at the Mexico ePrix in April, and feature in the New York ePrix season-finale, but will now see out the duration of the season for the Chinese team.
It is understood that Ma Qing Hua will remain as Techeetah’s official reserve driver. Ma, who made his debut in the 2016 Paris ePrix for the then-Team Aguri, suffered a series of disappointing performances, failing to score a point in any of the last four rounds. Ma is also yet to score a point in the current season, despite the Chinese team using the Renault powertrain, with team-mate Vergne solely responsible for the team’s 22 point haul, and their first podium place in Buenos Aires.
In the pipeline
After failing to secure a seat in Formula One for the 2017 season, Gutierrez announced his intended move to Formula E in January. With several Formula E drivers competing in multiple disciplines, it was initially suggested that Gutierrez would debut with Dragon Racing, replacing Loic Duval in the Paris and Berlin rounds, due to Duval’s DTM commitments with Audi. Reports of a seat at DS Virgin and Renault eDams were also entertained, with the Mexico ePrix scheduled the day after Toyota’s World Endurance Championship launch in Monza, which Jose Maria Lopez and current championship-leader Sebastien Buemi were expected to attend.
With reports that the Gutierrez deal was sealed after a visit to Techeetah’s simulator in Monaco, where the Mexican resides, official confirmation is expected from the team in due course. It remains to be seen whether Gutierrez will test for the team before taking to the track, but he will now make his debut with a full race seat at his home race at the Autodromo Hermano Rodriguez, on April 1.