The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship returns this Friday and Saturday, 28 & 29 January with the opening two rounds of Season 8 racing under lights on one of the most technically challenging tracks of the series around the walls of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
Fans will be returning to the grandstands and millions more will be tuning-in live around the world to see the ultra-competitive line-up of 11 teams and 22 world-class drivers launch their challenge for the FIA World Championship title at the start of the biggest-ever 16 race calendar.
Mercedes-EQ Hunting The Double
Reigning World Champions Nyck de Vries and Mercedes-EQ are looking to defend their Drivers’ and Teams’ World Championships. While their closest rivals from last season field unchanged line-ups, this season sees three new drivers take a seat in the most competitive Formula E grid to date, including new addition and ex-Formula 1 racer, Antonio Giovinazzi.
Mitch Evans and Sam Bird are back with Jaguar TCS Racing while DS TECHEETAH confirmed that double champion Jean-Eric Vergne once again lines up with Season 6 title-winner Antonio Felix da Costa.
Envision Racing will seek to build on a positive Season 7, with Robin Frijns impressing on the way to fifth in the standings last time out, and Nick Cassidy is no longer just the head-turning rookie but a serious contender. After a storming maiden campaign, Avalanche Andretti’s Jake Dennis is back and is joined by the only American driver on the grid, 2019 Indy Lights champ Oliver Askew.
ROKiT Venturi Racing head into a new campaign full of optimism with last year’s runner up Edoardo Mortara joined by 2016/17 champion Lucas di Grassi at the Monegasque team this season. TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team’s all-German line-up remains where Pascal Wehrlein and Andre Lotterer go again in search of Porsche’s maiden race win in all-electric motorsport as Oliver Rowland joins countryman Alexander Sims at Mahindra Racing.
Maximilian Guenther makes the switch to Nissan e.dams, alongside 2015/16 champion Sebastien Buemi, while DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT snapped up Antonio Giovinazzi fresh from Formula 1, with the Italian joining Sergio Sette Camara. At NIO 333, Oliver Turvey is joined by multiple Macau Grand Prix winner and current FIA Formula 2 Championship front-runner Dan Ticktum.
From Season 8, Formula E races can now have additional race time of up to 10 minutes added when incidents cause Safety Car or Full Course Yellow neutralisations during the 45-minute plus one lap race.
Formula E’s Gen2 cars will be the quickest they’ve ever been this season, too. Drivers will be able to tap into 220kW of power in Season 8, an increase from 200kW in Season 7, during races. Power during ATTACK MODE will also increase to 250kW from 235kW.
Formula E’s new qualifying format featuring Groups and knockout Duels is a first in world motorsport, and will debut in Diriyah providing a completely new challenge for drivers and teams to tackle.
Double-Header In The Dark
Formula E broke new ground with its first night races, working closely with the KSA’s Ministry of Sport to turn the dream of a sustainable night race into reality at an adapted Riyadh Street Circuit.
The fast and flowing 2.49km circuit, flanking the stunning At-Turaif UNESCO World Heritage Site, will once again be lit up by the latest low-power LED technology. These reduce energy consumption by up to 50 per cent compared to non-LED units, and are powered by sustainably-sourced biofuel generators.
Last time out, eventual Drivers’ World Champion Nyck de Vries (Mercedes-EQ) laid down the ultimate marker in the opener with a clean sweep of the best times in Free Practice 1 and 2, Julius Baer Pole Position plus the Round 1 win – the Dutchman’s first in Formula E. Sam Bird (Jaguar TCS Racing) took the second race on debut for Jaguar.