If there were any doubts that the new generation of Formula E cars would lead to a change in the style of racing, these were dispelled after the first few laps of the Ad Diriyah ePrix back in December. Once again the all-electric series delivered the exciting, cut-throat, and at times mad racing that has seen its popularity continue to grow.
Fears about the new Mario-kart style attack mode being a gimmick too far also proved to be unfounded as it added another dynamic, and frenetic, angle to the racing. With eight winners from the first eight races as well it was clear that the unpredictability that we’ve come to expect over the previous four years was still there.
But of the 22 drivers to compete in more than six races in this year’s championship, who set themselves out from the rest? Read below as TCF ranks them all from worst, to best.
22. Tom Dillmann | Twenty-third | 0 points
Head-to-head (Turvey), Qualifying: 5-7, Race: 2-11
Tom Dillmann had certainly proved that he deserved to be in Formula E with his previous drives for Venturi. His fourth-place finish in last year’s New York City ePrix indicated that he might be able to really challenge NIO team-mate Oliver Turvey in 2018-19, but sadly for the Frenchman that never really materialised. He was certainly let down by his machinery, with the NIO being far and away the least competitive car, but his race pace just simply wasn’t up to scratch. He only beat Turvey to the checkered flag twice all year, and only mustered a best finish of twelfth.
21. Gary Paffett | Nineteenth | 9 points
Head-to-head (Vandoorne), Qualifying: 4-9, Race: 5-6
HWA Racelab struggled in their first few races in Formula E, with even finishing a race proving to be a challenge. Once they got over their reliability problems though they slowly dialled up the pace, and as they did Paffett was left behind. While his team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne was able to secure a pole position and even a podium finish in Rome, Paffett’s best finish was an eighth place. He was comfortably out-qualified throughout the year and he now faces a battle to keep hold of his seat as the team passes to Mercedes, with Esteban Gutierrez potentially being lined up to replace him.
20. Jose Maria Lopez | Twenty-first | 3 points
Head-to-head (Gunther/Nasr), Qualifying: 8-5, Race: 7-5
It was felt that Lopez was unfairly ditched by Virgin Racing at the end of the 2016-17 championship, but since making the move to GEOX Dragon Racing the former WTCC champion has failed to impress. He scored a pitiful three points this season, and although the Dragon car was far from competitive, his team-mate Gunther proved it was possible of a top-five finish. While he was able to outperform Felipe Nasr when he made a three-race cameo for the team, it’s no wonder that the Argentinian is rumoured to be moving on from the team next year.
19. Felipe Massa | Fifteenth | 36 points
Head-to-head (Mortara), Qualifying: 5-8, Race: 7-5
It was a tough first year in Formula E for Massa. He lost out early on in some of the rough and tumble manoeuvres that have come to typify the series, and seemed to lack the pace of team-mate Mortara in qualifying. His experience did see him finish far more races than his team-mate, however, and his podium in Monaco showed that he was getting more used to the sport as the season wore on. That being said, he’ll be disappointed not to have achieved more in his first full season out of Formula 1.
18. Alex Lynn | Eighteenth | 10 points
Head-to-head (Evans), Qualifying: 3-4, Race: 1-6
After being ditched by Virgin Racing at the end of last season Lynn was given a reprieve by Panasonic Jaguar Racing after the dire performances from Nelson Piquet Jr in the first half of the season. Driving from Rome onwards, he was able to quickly outperform what the Brazilian had done in the car, getting through to the super pole shootout twice, and even challenging at the front of the pack in New York before his car gave in. However, despite this, he still wasn’t able to hold a candle to team-mate Mitch Evans who scored three podiums, including the team’s first victory, in the same time Lynn was in the car. It would be interesting to see if Lynn could provide more of a challenge if given a full off-season to prepare.
17. Oliver Turvey | Twentieth | 7 points
Head-to-head (Dillmann), Qualifying: 7-5, Race: 11-2
Driving what was undoubtedly the worst car on the grid stifled Turvey’s opportunities to impress this year. The Brit has a habit of dragging uncompetitive machinery to places it shouldn’t be, but this year’s NIO proved to be too much of a challenge. Three meagre points finishes were less than Turvey deserved and ended up being the only points scored by the team this year. In these situations, all you can do is beat your team-mate, and he did just that, just nipping Dillmann in qualifying, and thoroughly trouncing him on race pace throughout the season.
16. Andre Lotterer | Eighth | 86 points
Head-to-head (Vergne), Qualifying: 3-10, Race: 4-9
It is staggering that a driver of Andre Lotterer’s quality is still without a win in Formula E. With his rookie season behind him the German was expected to step it up a gear this year, but instead, he limped home in eighth place in the driver’s standings while his team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne took the title. It was looking more promising with four races to go, but a mix of mistakes from the team, bad fortune and bad driving led to Lotterer taking no points after the Monaco ePrix. This tied into his dreadful record against Vergne in qualifying made it a bad year for the former Le Mans champion, and he’ll be hoping for an easier time of it when he makes the switch to Porsche next season.
15. Maximillian Gunther | Seventeenth | 20 points
Head-to-head (Lopez), Qualifying: 4-6, Race: 5-5
Despite being shoved out of the team for three races for Felipe Nasr, Gunther still impressed in his debut year in the series. He was able to match experienced team-mate Jose Maria Lopez and even managed to drag the uncompetitive GEOX Dragon car into two top-five finishes towards the end of the season, meaning he scored the lion’s share of the team’s overall points tally. With those performances, it’s no wonder that BMW i Andretti Motorsport are sniffing around him, and having driven in a test for them last month don’t be surprised to see him in blue and white next season.
14. Alexander Sims | Thirteenth | 57 points
Head-to-head (da Costa), Qualifying: 7-6, Race: 5-8
It was a solid if unspectacular debut year in Formula E for Alexander Sims. With four races to go in the season, he’d only managed to score eighteen points – less than his team-mate Antonio Felix da Costa had managed in just the opening race – mainly thanks to six races in a row without any points finish. Thankfully he ended the season on a high, scoring his first pole and podium in the last race in New York, and it looks as if he will be kept on at BMW with team-mate Da Costa set to leave the team and join title winners DS Techeetah.
13. Edoardo Mortara | Fourteenth | 52 points
Head-to-head (Massa), Qualifying: 8-5, Race: 5-7
It was a similar season to last year for Edoardo Mortara, with the occasional highlight surrounded by what would have otherwise been a disappointing year. Having thrown away the win in Hong Kong last season he stormed to victory this time around, scoring his and Venturi’s first win and justifying why the team chose to keep the Swiss driver over Maro Engel. A podium before that in Mexico meant that the Swiss were potentially in the title fight, but a dreadful run of eight races with no points and six retirements put paid to that. With more consistency, he could be dangerous next season.
12. Jerome D’Ambrosio | Eleventh | 67 points
Head-to-head (Wehrlein), Qualifying: 4-8, Race: 7-5
The switch to Mahindra Racing this season paid off immediately for D’Ambrosio as he scored a podium in the opening race before grabbing his first win in nearly three years at the next race in Marrakesh. Things faltered from there though, and while he often struggled by going out in the first qualifying group in thanks to his high championship position, that doesn’t account for him failing to qualify in the top five all season and being out-paced by team-mate Pascal Wehrlein over the course of the year. He’ll hope that Mahindra recovers their pace from the start of the year, as with a good car he has proven that he will win races.
Nelson Piquet Jr. | Felipe Nasr | Felix Rosenqvist
As he didn’t complete more than half of the season Nelson Piquet Jr. was left off this list, which was just as well for him. The Brazilian was barely recognisable compared to his previous title-winning form as he was thumped by Mitch Evans in qualifying and races, scoring just one point. Felipe Nasr got three races at Dragon subbing for Maximillian Gunther but didn’t show anything special in his limited time, retiring twice.
And Felix Rosenqvist stood in for Pascal Wehrlein in a farewell to his Mahindra team before going off to Indycar, but a brush with the wall in qualifying put him at the back, and he retired with a driveshaft failure just eight laps into the race.
Catch part two of our countdown here.