The ABB FIA Formula E Championship returns for its sixth season on Friday in Saudi Arabia for the Diriyah ePrix. Here are some of the changes that are worth noting before the drivers take to the track next weekend.
Teams and Drivers
Mercedes EQ Formula E Team and Porsche Formula E Team join the grid for the first time. Mercedes taking over from where HWA Racelab had left off, while the arrival of Porsche expands the field to twenty-four cars, the largest number of competitors that Formula E has seen.
Five of the teams have kept the same two drivers from the previous season. Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, Envision Virgin Racing, Nissan e.dams, Mahindra Racing and Venturi Formula E Team retain their full-driver pairing.
The big driver changes sees champions DS Techeetah signing António Félix da Costa, who replaces André Lotterer who joins newcomers Porsche. Da Costa’s place at BMW i Andretti Motorsport will be filled by Maximilian Günther. Four drivers will make their FE debuts in Saudi Arabia. Brendon Hartley and Nico Müller are inherited by GEOX Dragon, Nyck de Vries joins Mercedes, while James Calado hopes to embark on a new career with Panasonic Jaguar Racing:
- DS Techeetah – Jean-Éric Vergne & António Félix da Costa
- Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler – Lucas di Grassi & Daniel Abt
- Envision Virgin Racing – Sam Bird & Robin Frijns
- Nissan e.dams – Oliver Rowland & Sébastien Buemi
- BMW i Andretti Motorsport – Alexander Sims and Maximilian Günther
- Mahindra Racing – Jérôme d’Ambrosio & Pascal Wehrlein
- Panasonic Jaguar Racing – Mitch Evans & James Calado
- Venturi Formula E Team – Felipe Massa & Edoardo Mortara
- Mercedes EQ Formula E Team – Stoffel Vandoorne & Nyck de Vries
- GEOX Dragon – Brendon Hartley & Nico Müller
- NIO 333 FE Team – Oliver Turvey & Ma Qing Hua
- Porsche Formula E Team – Neel Jani & André Lotterer
Formula E has expanded its number of races from thirteen in season five to fourteen this campaign. However, the curtain raiser in Ad Diriyah will host two races, as will the finale in London, which will race around and through the ExCel Exhibition Centre for the first time. All the other venues will stage just a single race.
Along with the British capital returning to the calendar, the sport will visit two other new venues. The South Korean capital of Seoul will stage its inaugural ePrix on the 3rd May 2020, with Jakarta in Indonesia hosting the next race in the following month. After three seasons on the calendar, Hong Kong was dropped and replaced by Marrakesh, which has moved from its usual place in January:
- Diriyah ePrix (Race 1) – 22nd November 2019
- Diriyah ePrix (Race 2) – 23rd November 2019
- Santiago ePrix – 18th January 2020
- Mexico City ePrix – 15th February 2020
- Marrakesh ePrix – 29th February 2020
- Sanya ePrix – 21st March 2020
- Rome ePrix – 4th April 2020
- Paris ePrix – 18th April 2020
- Seoul ePrix – 3rd May 2020
- Jakarta ePrix – 6th June 2020
- Berlin ePrix – 21st June 2020
- New York City ePrix – 11th July 2020
- London ePrix (Race 1) – 25th July 2020
- London ePrix (Race 2)- 26th July 2020
Technical and Sporting Regulation changes
The points system has changed slightly once again for Formula E. With twenty-four cars now on the grid, there are six drivers in each of the four qualifying groups. Unlike in previous seasons, the driver who sets the fastest time in the group stage of qualifying will now earn a championship point to their name and team.
In regards to Attack Mode, the boost the drivers get when using this aid alone has gone up from what was 225kW during a race in season five to 235kW, hence the drivers in particular, expecting more overtaking as a consequence. However, Attack Mode can no longer be activated under a Safety Car or Full Course Yellow, plus every minute spent under either procedure will subtract 1kWh from each car’s total available energy from the point when the race was neutralised.
Another regulation to remember is if the race is suspended, the race clock that would normally tick down will stop, unless announced by the Race Director. This is so that the race can be completed in the full amount of time without losing track action.
Finally, the number of MGUs (Motor Generator Unit), which are the rotating electromechanical power converters, have been reduced from two to one. Last season, Nissan used a double-power converter but they will now have to make changes to avoid breaching the regulations.
Maximilian Günther topped the timing screens for BMW overall throughout the six days of Pre-Season Testing in Valencia, ahead of Pascal Wehrlein in second by a tenth of a second and Nico Müller, who was the highest of the rookie drivers in terms of times in third.
Reigning champion Jean-Éric Vergne was ninth fastest on the last day and four tenths shy of Günther. Last year, BMW was also the fastest in Pre-Season Testing but had only gone to win one race during the campaign in the season opener in Saudi Arabia.
The top twenty-two drivers on the last day were separated by less than a full second, therefore it is shaping up to be as close competition as what it was in the previous year.