Former F1 driver Esteban Gutiérrez will make his Formula E debut with Techeetah, taking over Ma Qinghua’s seat for both next month’s Mexico City ePrix and the remaining rounds of season three.
Ma, who joined Techeetah’s forerunner Team Aguri last year, is yet to score any points in his Formula E career, and it is understood his disappointing results relative to Jean-Éric Vergne are the reason he is being stood down before the season’s end.
Although Techeetah has yet to officially confirm its revised lineup, it is expected that the team will announce Gutiérrez as Vergne’s new teammate shortly, as well as Ma’s retention in a reserve driver role.
Gutiérrez had previously looked set to replace Loïc Duval at Dragon but his management was unable to finalise a deal, and so settled instead on Techeetah following a visit to the team’s simulator.
The Mexican is also reported to have held talks with Renault e.Dams and DS Virgin after losing his F1 drive at the end of 2016, specifically to deputise should any of their respective drivers have to miss the Mexico City race for the WEC Prologue in Monza—an opportunity now unavailable, with Sébastien Buemi and José María López flying overnight from the Prologue to Mexico, and Sam Bird granted leave by Ferrari to skip the WEC launch event altogether.
But with Gutiérrez now off the Formula E market, Renault and DS Virgin are still searching for a stand-in apiece when July’s New York ePrix clashes with the 6 Hours of the Nürburgring. It is believed Renault would prefer to draft in a member of its driver development academy, although the top drivers from that pool have schedule clashes of their own in junior formulae; whilst DS Virgin has so far given no updates on who is in the frame to join its current reserve driver Alex Lynn to cover Bird and Lopez in Brooklyn.
James Matthews, Formula E editor
Header photo credit: Haas F1 Team