Formula E – Not only is it time for a new FE season to start but also the newest era for the series with their most advanced car yet, the Gen 3.
The new car is both shorter and lighter than the Gen2 but significantly faster, more powerful, and can regenerate nearly two and half times more energy. The new car has already shown its potential in testing by setting times much quicker than the previous years but there will still be a lot to figure out with the car over the season.
Gen 3 also means a reset on the series with everyone starting on a level playing field dealing with the new technology so we won’t be able to have a proper idea about who has figured everything out best and who the frontrunners are until we’ve got a few race weekends under our collective belts.
There have been some regulation changes since we finished up last year, the biggest being that races are back to being run to a lap count again rather than for a set time. Similarly to the past few seasons though time spent under Safety Car or Full Course Yellow will still be tallied but will now add additional laps rather than additional time.
Fan Boost has been put out to pasture after eight years so for the start of the year there will only be additional power through Attack Mode however later in the year Attack Charge will be trialled with cars having to take a 30 second recharging pit stop which will then unlock the two Attack Mode periods for them.
Also, be prepared to see new faces on the grid more regularly as each team will have to give a car over to a rookie for at least two FP1 sessions throughout the year.
Teams & Drivers
There has been a lot of chopping and changing on the team side of things – teams leaving, others joining, sponsors changing – and that’s even before getting into personnel changes. So really, things don’t look all that similar to how they were last year at all, in fact Jaguar are the only team with the same driver line up as in season 8.
After two years in a row of winning both titles, Mercedes have left the series but McLaren have taken over the team so silver becomes papaya and while a lot of the team personnel will continue, the driver line up is completely new.
ABT are back after a year out and this time they’ve teamed up with Cupra, Techeetah however will be sir not appearing in this season, after their partnership with DS ended. The team hopes to be back on the grid for season 10 though.
The e.dams name has left the sport with Nissan buying out the team, while Venturi has been renamed Maserati MSG and has a new management structure with CEO, Susie Wolff, and Team Principal, Jerome d’Ambrosio, stepping down while James Rossiter, previously Techeetah’s Sporting Director, will take the Team Principal’s role.
Another big management change came at Mahindra where Dilbagh Gill, one of the most exuberant and gif-able figures in the paddock, left his roles as the Indian team’s CEO and Team Principal. Gill is on gardening leave until the start of March and his plans for after that are currently unknown.
ABT Cupra Formula E Team – #4 Robin Frijns & #51 Nico Mueller
After sitting out last season following Audi’s decision to leave the series, ABT focused on Gen3, teaming up with Cupra and reuniting their DTM pairing of Frijns and Mueller. With a season and half of racing with Dragon under his belt, Mueller will be looking for regular points and to add to his P2 from the mayhem that was the first Valencia E-Prix.
Frijns meanwhile raced a couple of Gen1 seasons with Andretti taking a very impressive P3 in a damaged car in his second appearance. He came back to the series with Envision for the Gen2 era and has picked up two wins and taken multiple podiums in every season since his return.
Avalanche Andretti Formula E – #27 Jake Dennis & #36 Andre Lotterer
It’s pretty shocking to think that this will only be Dennis’s third season in the series, the Brit took a few races to get into the swing of things but once he did there was no stopping him. After getting his first points in his fifth race, he went out the next day to take pole and his first win in his sixth race. Another win at the inaugural London E-Prix followed and he was one of the unlucky title challengers to crash out in the season finale. In his second year Dennis once again aced his home races taking pole on both days as well as a win and second in the E-Prixs.
Lotterer was originally set to leave Formula E at the end of season 8 after joining Porsche’s LMDh project but with Andretti partnering up to run the German marque’s powertrains, Lotterer found a new home where he will hope to finally get his elusive first win in the series after taking at least on second place in each of the five seasons he’s raced in already.
Also, Lotterer joining means that Andretti will continue to have the tallest driver line up on the grid.
DS Penske – #1 Stoffel Vandoorne & #25 Jean-Eric Vergne
It’s all change at the team formerly known as Dragon, the DS and Techeetah partnership came to an end and now the French marque has joined forces with Penske and brought Vergne along with them.
Formula E’s only double champion will be joined by the series’ most recent champion, Vandoorne. The Belgian will undoubtedly be trying to emulate his teammate’s feat of winning his championships in the final year of one generation of car and the first of another.
With the DS Penske running the gold and black livery that Techeetah was known for, and JEV in the car, I’m sure there’ll be many people mistakenly calling the Penske a Techeetah. Not the first time the two teams have been easily confused though as in season 4, Techeetah had a company called Dragon as their title sponsor with the name written on their sidepods.
Envision Racing – #16 Sebastien Buemi & #37 Nick Cassidy
In his first move away from the e.dams team, Buemi’s switch to Envision means that he is the last of the original FE drivers to change teams. The Swiss racer was one of the stars of the early seasons of the series when he and Renault were the ones to beat, while the first two seasons after the team changed to Nissan were competitive enough, the two most recent ones were more of a challenge but the Swiss racer will be looking to get back to more regular points and podium finishes.
Heading into his third season, Cassidy has been a solid pair of hands for Envision with two poles and two podiums each season, including a debut win in New York last year, the Kiwi will be looking to add to his win tally and along with Buemi get the team back challenging for titles.
Jaguar TCS Racing – #9 Mitch Evans & #10 Sam Bird
As the only team with the same name and drivers as last year Jaguar must’ve felt a bit left out and decided to move away from the grey/black and turquoise that have been their signature colours since they joined the all-electric series in season 3. For the start of the Gen3 era Jaguar will now have a black and white asymmetric livery where the design on one car is mirrored on the other to give Evans and Bird their own look.
While Evans was in the championship fight for the past couple of years Bird had a tougher time and even had to miss the final weekend of Gen2 after breaking his hand at the start of the second London E-Prix (but managed to finish and get points despite that). That saw season 8 as the first the Brit hasn’t taken a victory in.
Mahindra Racing – #8 Oliver Rowland & #11 Lucas di Grassi
With three seasons at Nissan under his belt, five poles, five podiums including a win at the penultimate Berlin race of season six, Rowland made the move to Mahindra for the final year of Gen 2. There he took the team’s only pole and podium of the year at the inaugural Seoul E-Prix. During his time at Nissan Rowland had a great rapport with Sebastien Buemi so it will be interesting to see how he gels with his new teammate, Buemi’s main rival though the course of Formula E.
After spending seven seasons with Audi ABT, di Grassi has now made two team changes in the past two years moving to Mahindra after a solitary season at Venturi and has now made the move to the Indian team on the grid. While the Brazilian hasn’t been in the championship fight in the past few seasons, he has still been taking wins and podiums so Mahindra will be in good hands with the two they have.
Maserati MSG Racing – #7 Maximilian Guenther & #48 Edoardo Mortara
Formerly Venturi, the team has brought Guenther over after a difficult year at Nissan. The German has three wins under his belt from his time at BMW and will be looking to add to that.
Mortara has been well in the championship fight for the past couple of years when Venturi ran Mercedes powertrains but just missed out to the Mercedes-EQ team at the end. Maserati will be hoping to keep the competitiveness the team has had over the past few years alive but it’s always difficult coming into a new series so teething issues will be expected.
Neom McLaren Formula E Team – #5 Jake Hughes & #58 Rene Rast
Hughes is the only true rookie on the grid, having never competed at Formula E weekend prior to Gen 3 but that doesn’t mean he’s fresh to the series. The Brit has spent the past two years as reserve and development driver for Mercedes and Venturi, even going so far as to drop out of Formula 2 midway through the year to put his full focus on his Formula E commitments. That dedication paid off though and he has been given the chance to show his stuff with McLaren this year.
The other side of the garage will be occupied by Rast, multiple DTM and WEC winner, previously spent a year and half with Audi initially coming in for the Berlin six race finale in season 6 before being given a full time seat for the following year. The German has taken the third and second places on the podium but will be looking to add the top step to his collection.
NIO 333 Racing – #3 Sergio Sette Camara & #33 Dan Ticktum
The youngest driver pairing on the grid but there’s no doubting the speed and talent of the two who are always fun to watch. Sette Camara is new to the team after spending two and a half seasons at Dragon where he had a best result of P4 at the second Diriyah race of season 7, while he’s taken points in London in both seasons he’s visited.
Ticktum’s rookie season last year saw him, and NIO 333, only manage points at one race but the young Brit did impress through the season so we’ll see if the team have a car good enough for the drivers to be able to make a real difference.
Nissan Formula E Team – #17 Norman Nato & #23 Sacha Fenestraz
After being the Venturi reserve for a few years Nato finally got the full time seat for season 7 and was plagued by bad luck at the start of it, twice finishing on the podium but then being penalised and losing the position. He did manage to get it all in order by the end though and finished the year off with a victory at the final round. Unfortunately for the French driver decisions had already been made about the following year and he lost his seat.
Nato was back for the final weekend last year though, stepping in for the injured Bird at Jaguar. Fenestraz also appeared that weekend and replaced Antonio Giovinazzi at Dragon for the second race in Seoul after the Italian suffered a hand injury.
TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team – #13 Antonio Felix da Costa & #94 Pascal Wehrlein
While he might be one of the more mischievous drivers on the grid, da Costa is also a fierce fighter and never one to underestimate. He won the championship in season 6 after moving to Techeetah and denying his teammate a third in a row. He now joins Wehrlein at Porsche as the two hope to get the team into a more regular point and podium scoring position. After many near misses in Mexico Wehrlein finally took his first win last time out in Mexico City and not only that but Porsche also got to celebrate in the best way with a team 1-2, something they will most certainly be looking to replicate this year.
For the Gen3 debut season there are sixteen rounds planned for eleven different locations around the world with four brand new cities joining in the all-electric fun. The season will start off this weekend with a race in Mexico before jumping over to Saudi Arabia for races in Diriyah on Friday and Saturday the 27th and 28th of January.
Following that, in February and March, there’ll be back-to-back-to-back new locations with Hyderabad on Feb 11th, Cape Town on Feb 25th and then Sao Paulo a month later on March 25th.
What better way to follow up three brand new races than with a double-header, on the 22nd and 23rd of April, in the only city to have appeared in every single season, the most raced on track in Formula E history, Berlin.
The only race in May will be at one of the most iconic race venues in the world as Monaco hosts their sixth E-Prix on May 6th. On June 3rd and 4th Formula E will be back in Jakarta for the Indonesian city’s second time hosting the all-electric series.
The final new venue of the season, in Portland, Oregon, is set for June 24th at the Portland International Raceway before two double-headers will finish the season out in July, slightly earlier than the past few years. Firstly Rome on the 15th and 16th before London will host their first Formula E season finale since season 2 on the 29th and 30th.
We’ll be starting the season off with a bang as Mexico City always brings exciting racing and a wonderful party atmosphere, especially in the Foro Sol, the stadium part of the track. It’ll be the seventh time Formula E have raced at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez and there have been some unbelievable moments on the track over the years. After seeing Porsche finally take a well deserved win last year, Mexico City will get to showcase the new Gen3 car racing in anger for the first time.
FP1 will be live at half ten this evening while the race day itself starts with FP2 at 1:30pm tomorrow before the E-Prix at 8pm.