McLaren move came as a "surprise" - Rast

Rene Rast was picked up by NEOM McLaren for their debut in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship; a welcome call-up for the German who was eager for return to all-electric single seaters.

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When Audi departed from the series at the end of Season 7, Rene Rast was already plotting a return to Formula E and while the call from McLaren came as a bit of a surprise, he's ready to make the most of the British team's race-winning pedigree from its previous guise as Mercedes-EQ, alongside the start of the all-new Gen3 era.

"It came as kind of a surprise to be honest. Obviously, after my single year with Audi I said 'that cannot be it' and I wanted to come back somehow," Rast opened on his signing with the legendary British marque.

During his season long sabbatical from Formula E, Rast has been keeping his skills fresh in GT and endurance racing, but sees his return campaign to all-electric racing as a perfect time to rejoin as the whole paddock face a clean slate.

"Over the last year I did a full season in DTM and the World Endurance Championship, but now I'm back in Formula E and I think it's good point to join. Everything is new: new teams, new drivers, new cars. So for me, it's the perfect entry into a new challenge."

Papaya might be a new addition to the grid's colour palette, but Rast recognises that he's joining a team already at a high level as the McLaren outfit has morphed from the two-time championship winning Mercedes-EQ squad. "It's a huge privilege to drive for McLaren, everybody knows their history in motorsport.

"They've taken over the old Mercedes team, so everyone is already at a high level in terms of work ethic and professionalism - it's a good team, good manufacturer, and I also get on very well with my teammate already - he's very quick. Overall, there's just a good combination as a whole."

That championship success has been immediately evident to Rast, who added:"As soon as you join the team and you see how they operate, how they work - the whole structure behind it opened my eyes to be honest as they're performing at a very high level.

"I'm still learning as they work differently from what I'm used to. It's an English team and all of my years I have driven for German teams, at least then I could speak German," joked Rast, and continued: "The work ethic is also different, so there's a lot for me to learn."

As mentioned by Rast, it's a completely fresh start for the grid: "With new cars there's a different type of software systems and how they operate.

"It's all new and we've tried to spend as much time as we can in the sim and on the track, but testing is limited before coming here so this is our first proper test."