- Norman Nato [Copyright: Venturi]

Venturi signs Nato, Extreme E launches GridPlay; CAS updates on Iannone hearing

Formula E looks towards the new season as Extreme E finds itself in hot waters.

Venturi signed Norman Nato for 2020/21 Formula E season as FIA validated all the 10 teams, while Extreme E launches GridPlay amid trademark row as CAS updates on Andrea Iannone's situation.

Venturi Formula E announcement:

Over in Formula E, Venturi announced the signing of Nato as the replacement to ex-F1 racer Felipe Massa for the 2020/21 season, alongside Edoardo Mortara. The Frenchman had joined the team as a reserve in 2018, with Arthur Leclerc being its development driver.

Post a solid junior career in single-seater racing, Nato switched to sportscar as he competed not only in WEC but also ELMS. He has driven the Formula E car in several of the test runs but it will be his first full year in the all-electric championship.

"I’ve been a part of the ROKiT Venturi Racing family since 2018, so to secure a full-time race seat with the team for Season 7 is a great step forward and I can’t wait to show what we can achieve together," said Nato, upon the announcement.

"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 [Wolff] and the team for believing in my abilities and giving me this opportunity to race in the FIA Formula E World Championship. I’m very excited to hit the ground running in Santiago this January."

Meanwhile, Mortara - who continues for his fourth year with Venturi - stated: "I’m excited to continue my journey with ROKiT Venturi Racing into Season 7 of the FIA Formula E World Championship. There have been some real highlights over the past four years and I’m very keen to see what we can do together moving forward into this next stage of the team’s development.

"Santiago is a special place for me and I know that by the time January comes around, we will be in a better position to challenge our rivals. We saw some real promise during the first few races of Season 6 and although the season didn’t finish the way we wanted it to, we’ve put a lot of work in since then and I know we’re all hungry to get back out on track.

"I’m really happy to welcome Norman to his new role with the team - he’s earned it and I’m looking forward to working more closely with him. Working together, I hope that we will deliver some strong results in what is a landmark year for both the team and the championship."

And finally, team principal Susie Wolff added: "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. 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.

"Season 7 will be Edo’s fourth with the team and we hope that his experience in the series combined with Norman’s ability and determination will make for a formidable pairing. Season 7 marks Formula E’s first campaign as a World Championship and we’re very much looking forward to hitting the track in Santiago next year."

Meanwhile, with months to go for the first race in the 2020/21 season, the FIA has validated the 10 Formula E teams to take part in Season 7. They are all the same as 2019/20 but couple of them have a name change, that of 'Dragon Penske Autosport and NIO 333 Formula E Team'

Here's the full list:

Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler; BMW i Andretti Motorsport; DRAGON PENSKE AUTOSPORT; DS TECHEETAH; Envision Virgin Racing; Jaguar Racing; MAHINDRA RACING; Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team; NIO 333 Formula E Team; Nissan e.dams; ROKiT Venturi Racing; TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team.

Extreme E:

Much like Formula E's FanBoost, Extreme E has launched GridPlay, to increase their fan engagement as they inch closer to the start of the first season, where they will be competing in various continents to raise awareness for the environment.

GridPlay will help the team with the maximum number of fan votes as they can choose their sport on the starting grid. They can even gift it to a team of their choice incase they don't make it to the final race. The rest of the grid will be formed as per the points scored.

"As a series we are looking for innovative ways to engage fans making them feel part of Extreme E, and have a voice when it comes to racing, particularly as we won’t have spectators on site as part of our sustainability endeavours," said Alejandro Aga.

"This makes the way we broadcast our championship even more important and people can watch the action on a variety of global channels and through our digital platforms." At the same time, ABT racer Mattias Ekstrom stated: "I already love GridPlay.

"Unlike in World RX, where your starting position is decided by pure luck, in Extreme E the fans can make the decision. They can get more engaged with our sport and we as drivers have to make sure to get them on our side. This is one of many details that makes this series so different to anything we have seen so far."

There could be, meanwhile, a legal trouble for Extreme E regarding its name and trademark as 'Extreme International' has pressed a case against the use of the name as per SportsCal, with the 'Extreme' brand in use by them since 2012.

Extreme founder and chief executive Alistair Gosling told Sportcal: "We have long term brand registrations for events in multiple countries. We are going to protect our rights accordingly. As part of our initial meeting with Formula E, they asked for all our brand information and our decks.

"Fast forward just over 12 months and they duly announced Extreme E. A few weeks after the initial launch announcement I reached out to Ali [Russell], and said ‘Ali, this is interesting. We have got clear long-term brand registrations in the events category; what are you guys doing here?’

"He would not engage with me, in fact he ignored me, so I brought our lawyers into engaging with them and that got a result of sorts. We had three or four conference calls with their lawyers around this, making and putting forward suggestions of a co-existence agreement and other ways forward.

"They strung us along for a number of months and eventually said ‘we are not interested in discussing your rights'. As a company and individuals, we are ourselves promoting and working towards the protection and recovery of our natural world. Therefore we are supportive of Extreme E’s aim to highlight the climate change challenges faced by different ecosystems (and a key reason why we pitched our ideas in this area to them initially).

"However, there needs to be respect for who we are, what we are and the legal registrations we clearly have. If you really want to use the brand and name, then let’s sit down and have a conversation. We have been at this for 25 years," he summed up, after revealing that they were asked by Formula E to meet them few years back and that is where they roughly brought up the idea to have races in such locations.

Update on Andrea Iannone from CAS:

The Court of Arbitration for Sport heard the case of Aprilia's Iannone on October 15, where the Italian was pressing for a lesser punishment, whereas World Anti-Doping

Agency (WADA) were gunning for more stringent one to stop him from racing.

The matter was heard but the result won't come soon as CAS stated that they will notify it by mid-November. This means, Iannone will not at all feature in the 2020 MotoGP season, while for 2021, it will depend on Aprilia if they sign him up alongside Aleix Espargaro.

Besides Iannone, Aprilia has an option of signing the current LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow, who is out of contract, while Andrea Dovizioso is in the market too. The Italian, however, is inching towards a MotoGP test role with multiple offers on the table.

"The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing in the appeal arbitration procedures filed by the Italian MotoGP rider Andrea Iannone and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) took place on 15 October 2020," stated the statement. The panel of arbitrators will now deliberate and finalise the Arbitral Award containing their decision.

"It is expected to be notified by mid-November 2020. The final award will be announced on the CAS website. The proceedings concern the decision taken by the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) International Disciplinary Court decision dated 31 March 2020 (the Challenged Decision) in which Andrea Iannone was found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation and an 18-month period of ineligibility was imposed on him.

"Andrea Iannone seeks to have the Challenged Decision annulled, whereas WADA requests that the Challenged Decision be replaced by a new decision imposing a four-year period of ineligibility on the rider."

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[Image courtesy: Venturi] [Note: The story was written on FormulaRapida.net]

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