Monaco-based Formula E team Venturi have announced its former reserve driver Norman Nato as the replacement for Felipe Massa, who left the team immediately after this year’s Berlin finale.

Team principal Susie Wolff said Nato’s commitment and contribution to the team’s development, as reserve driver, were what had finalised the decision to promote him.

“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,” she said. “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.”

Nato became Venturi’s reserve driver in 2018 and has dovetailed his commitments with an endurance racing programme. He drove for a selection of LMP2 teams during 2018 and earned a full-season drive with Rebellion in WEC for 2019, in the car that placed second at this year’s Le Mans.

Prior to his move into sports cars, Nato raced three seasons of GP2 (which became F2 during his time in the championship), with a best finish of fifth place in the 2016 championship and three race wins across the seasons.

Venturi fielded Nato for the 2019 and 2020 Marrakech rookie tests. He finished this year’s test sixth overall, and 0.774s ahead of Arthur Leclerc in the other Venturi.

“To secure a full-time race seat with the team for season seven is a great step forward and I can’t wait to show what we can achieve together,” said Nato, “Over the past two years, we have built very solid foundations and we share the same bright ambitions for the future. I would like to thank Susie and the team for believing in my abilities and giving me this opportunity to race in the FIA Formula E world championship.”

Nato will join Edoardo Mortara, who has driven for Venturi since 2017. The former Mercedes DTM driver took Venturi’s first race win at the 2019 Hong Kong E-Prix and scored all but three of the team’s 44 points last season.

Former F1 driver Massa had been with the team for two seasons, scoring a single podium finish in the 2019 Monaco EPrix. His departure was announced as the chequered flag fell on the final Berlin race this year.

There had been speculation Leclerc might step up to drive for the Monagasque team but the decision was made to reward Nato for his longstanding role at Venturi, which has included simulation and testing work since 2018.

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