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Could Sebastian Vettel kickstart Formula E silly season?

Sebastian Vettel’s move from Ferrari has triggered the Formula 1 silly season, before the first race of the 2020 season has even begun. But the empty Ferrari seat could trigger movements outside F1, including Formula E.

F1 teams have turned to Formula E in the past. In 2018, Nissan e.dams driver Alexander Albon was chosen by Red Bull to partner Daniil Kvyat at Toro Rosso for the upcoming season. It wouldn’t be completely out of the question for Ferrari to turn to its own associated drivers in the FE.

Mahindra’s Pascal Wehrlein has been a Ferrari simulator driver since 2019, and his relatively recent F1 experience could see him called up to partner Charles Leclerc in 2021.

However, it’s much more likely this attention on Wehrlein will attract other Formula E teams looking to sure up their own line-up for season seven.

Despite a difficult season six so far, Wehrlein has proven himself as a quick and talented driver. He would be an asset to any team, especially a German manufacturer looking for a German driver.

The grid for season seven is mostly unconfirmed so far. Its understood Lucas Di Grassi will remain at Audi for the scheduled 2020-2021 season, but the seat alongside him may be up for grabs. Porsche also has one driver locked in for next year, as works driver Andre Lotterer continues with the squad for a second season.

Either team would be a good move for Wehrlein. Audi is a proven title contender, while Porsche is only expected to grow as it gains more experience in the championship.

However, Wehrlein isn’t alone in being in the market for 2020-2021. Robin Frijns has a “multi-year” contract with Virgin, but it’s not known exactly when that comes to an end. The Dutch racer has ties to Audi, having raced with the manufacturer in DTM and various GT championships, and was linked with a possible Audi FE drive in 2019.

Brendon Hartley is also a possible rival for the Porsche seat. He joined the Formula E grid at the start of the 2019-20 season, running with GEOX Dragon, but his well established links to Porsche could give him the edge over Wehrlein.

Mitch Evans is the highest placed driver in the 2019-20 championship without a confirmed seat for next year, though it’s widely expected he will remain with Jaguar. Who will be his team-mate is much more uncertain, however. James Calado has failed to impress in his short FE career so far, and is at risk as the likes of Oliver Turvey and Edoardo Mortara search for a home for season seven.

With the 2019-20 season still on hiatus, it’s unlikely we’ll get any answers about the season seven grid until the fate of the remainder of season six is known. But if Formula 1 silly season spills out into FE – through Wehrlein or any other driver – FE teams may be forced to move quick to secure their own future line-ups.

Bethonie Waring

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