Formula E enters new era for season five
Formula E enters new era for season five
The ABB FIA Formula E Championship begins this weekend with season five in Ad Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. And the championship has a lot of newness to look forward to.
NEW MICHELIN TIRE
Michelin’s new Pilot Sport tire for Formula E’s new car, the Gen2, is focused primarily on energy efficiency and weight savings. Teams, drivers and manufacturers put the new tire through its paces both in private testing and in the series’ official preseason test in Valencia, Spain.
“The work on our new tire focused essentially on energy efficiency and saving weight,” says Serge Grisin, Michelin Motorsport program manager for Formula E.
“It is worth noting that four latest-generation Pilot Sports weigh the same as three Season 1 tires, and this unsprung-weight advantage makes a real contribution to the new cars’ enhanced performance.
“The feedback we got from our partner teams and drivers was very positive and backs up the results of our own private testing when we saw that the new Pilot Sport delivers improved grip and stability.”
NEW GEN2 CAR
The second generation Formula E car, dubbed the Gen2, marks a radical departure from the first generation. Battery technology improvements mean drivers will not have to switch cars during the race. Maximum power output increases to 250 kW. This provides a top speed of up to 174 mph.
The FanBoost number of drivers has been increased from three to five.
Additionally, Formula E has also introduced “ATTACK MODE.” Drivers can use this within designated zones off the racing line. However, there will be a 25 kW (200 to 225) race power increase that comes with “ATTACK MODE.” Virtual reality and data captured from this will be visible to fans.
NEW DRIVERS, MANUFACTURERS
As is the case with any racing season, the grid shifts from one season to the next. The grid that debuts in Saudi Arabia this weekend sees several changes from the end of the 2017-’18 campaign in New York City.
DS shifts from Virgin Racing to Techeetah, which fields an unchanged lineup of Jean-Eric Vergne and Andre Lotterer. Vergne’s consistency and pace netted him the season four title; Lotterer could well challenge his teammate for the title this season.
Virgin swaps Alex Lynn for Robin Frijns alongside Sam Bird, who was Vergne’s closest championship rival in season four. Frijns is a Dutch talent who has past FE experience with Andretti’s team. In place of DS, the team will race with an Audi powertrain this season.
Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler won the team’s title. After a miserable start, season three champion Lucas di Grassi finished with a flourish. Teammate Daniel Abt grew by leaps and bounds, and won twice. Both should contend again this season.
The dominant team of seasons one to three, Renault e.dams, is now Nissan e.dams as the Japanese marque enters FE. While Sebastien Buemi continues on, Oliver Rowland is a late add to the second car following Alexander Albon’s Formula 1 opportunity with Toro Rosso.
BMW joins the field as a fully fledged manufacturer for season five. It’s been involved with both FE as a series partner and Andretti Autosport as a technical partner. Antonio Felix da Costa and Alexander Sims figure to impress, Sims having moved over from BMW’s IMSA M8 GTE program to this one for its maiden voyage.
Ahead of Mercedes-AMG’s season six entrance, longtime partner team HWA AG enters for season five. In Stoffel Vandoorne and Gary Paffett they have a pair of champions in other series (F2 and DTM) who make their FE debuts. HWA will race with a Venturi powertrain.
Vandoorne isn’t the only ex-Formula 1 driver to join FE for season five. Felipe Massa (Venturi) and Pascal Wehrlein (Mahindra) join the grid as well. Wehrlein’s debut won’t occur until round two, so IndyCar-bound Felix Rosenqvist will have at least one more FE outing to start the season. Edoardo Mortara stays on at Venturi for another season while Jerome d’Ambrosio shifts from Dragon to Mahindra.
Panasonic Jaguar remains unchanged with Nelson Piquet Jr. and Mitch Evans. The team took a big step forward in season four and looks for more in season five. It’s a big year for Jaguar on the whole, with the manufacturer’s new Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY Championship on the schedule at most FE events.
NIO and Dragon complete the field, with one driver change apiece. Tom Dillmann is set for a full season with NIO after intermittent starts each of the last two seasons. Maximilian Guenther is Dragon’s new second driver, replacing d’Ambrosio. Oliver Turvey (NIO) and Jose Maria Lopez (Dragon) will seek to hold off the charge of their new teammates.
Saudi Arabia marks FE’s only race left in 2018, with the remaining 12 races taking place in 2019. Besides Ad Diriyah, races in Sanya, China and Bern, Switzerland are new cities joining the FE calendar.
2018-2019 ABB FIA Formula E Championship Calendar
The 2018/19 FIA Formula E Championship season calendar is as follows:
|15 December 2018||Saudi Arabia||Ad Diriyah|
|12 January 2019||Morocco||Marrakesh|
|26 January 2019||Chile||Santiago de Chile*|
|16 February 2019||Mexico||Mexico City|
|10 March 2019||China||Hong Kong|
|23 March 2019||China||Sanya*|
|13 April 2019||Italy||Rome|
|27 April 2019||France||Paris|
|11 May 2019||Monaco||Monaco|
|25 May 2019||Germany||Berlin|
|22 June 2019||Switzerland||Bern*|
|13 July 2019||USA||New York|
|14 July 2019||USA||New York|
* Subject to ASN confirmation
The Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY Championship races alongside at all events except Marrakesh, Santiago and Bern.