Formula E Preview: Venturi Grand Prix

Venturi Grand Prix

Ahead of the inaugural Formula E race weekend we're taking a look at the series' runners and riders. Next up, Venturi Grand Prix who will field Nick Heidfeld and Stephane Sarrazin.

Most non-motorsport media reports on Formula E tend to dedicate a lot of attention to the Venturi Grand Prix squad, who have a famous name on their list of owners: Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

Okay, so we're not expecting Leo to be hanging off the pit-wall giving his cars the hurry up, or indulging in any Colin Chapman-esque cap-throwing if they win. Still, it's a big PR boon for the fledgling series.

Better known as a sportscar manufactuerr, the Venturi name has racing history in F1 thanks to a tie-up with the struggling Larrousse squad in 1992 (below). The company changed hands in the early 2000s and now produces electric-powered sportscars, hence the Formula E interest.

The team have hired two very experienced drivers in former F1 veteran Nick Heidfeld and sportscar ace Stephane Sarrazin, which represents one of the strongest pairings on the grid.

Heidfeld needs little introduction to most motorsport fans. Formula 3000 champion in 1999, he was an F1 driver the following year and went on to enjoy a 12-year career in the sport, starting 183 grands prix. During that period he drove for the likes of Sauber, Williams and the factory BMW squad, recording 13 podiums without a win - an F1 record.

Since leaving the sport in 2011 he's been racing sportscars for the Rebellion team and continues to show well. He's also being linked with a role at the new Nissan LMP1 squad for 2015.

He's a good catch for Formula E, too. Heidfeld has a name most fans recognise and is a likeable guy. He's still at the top of his game, as demonstrated by his sportscar outings, and has looked good during testing. He's sure to pick up podiums - but can Quick Nick break his victory duck?

Sarrazin is one of the most versatile men in modern motorsport, having competed in Formula 1, the WRC and the World Endurance Championship.

It is in sportscars that the Frenchman has made his name, first at Peugeot and more recently at Toyota. Sarrazin has taken four overall podiums at Le Mans, three of them as runner-up, a record that gives him something in common with his team-mate.

But make no mistake, Sarrazin is fast and intelligent. Like Heidfeld, he should be in the mix for podiums this season.