Heading into its sixth season, the ABB FIA Formula E Championship is set for another scintillating season of racing. After another dramatic climax to season five which saw Jean-Eric Vergne and DS Techeetah crowned teams and drivers’ champions following an intricately-woven campaign, who are the runners and riders that are set to fight it out in the 2019-20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship across 12 global cities?
Back for season six, DS Techeetah will start as favourites for season six as the French-Chinese squad embark on another dramatic season of racing.
Jean-Eric Vergne has won the drivers’ title in the past seasons and will be primed to make it three times in a row this season. However, the Frenchman has a new sparring partner in the form of Portuguese racer Antonio Felix Da Costa. With two wins under the belt and one of only a handful of drivers to have competed in all 54 Formula E races.
Following several close on-track moments between Vergne and Andre Lotterer, the dynamic between the Frenchman and his new Portuguese team-mate will prove critical to the outcome of their season.
Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler Formula E Team
As the only outfit to have kept their two drivers since race one of season one, Audi head into their sixth season of the all-electric racing series aiming high. After missing out on both the teams and drivers’ titles in the past two seasons, the German giant knows that a good start is crucial to have a fighting chance of the championship at the end of the season.
There is renewed pressure at their base in Stuttgart as not only is their rivalry from fellow German manufacturer BMW, but with Mercedes and Porsche entering the fray with fully-fledged factory outfits, the pressure is on to be top German after London next July.
But with two drivers they know inside out in Lucas Di Grassi and Daniel Abt, if Audi has done their homework over the winter, they know that they stand a fighting chance.
Daniel Abt said before flying to Riyadh: “One thing is clear: this will be the hardest-fought season in Formula E history. I know that’s what we say before each season – and so far it’s always turned out to be true. We realize that the guys from Mercedes and Porsche aren’t here just for fun – but neither are we.”
Envision Virgin Racing
In their first season as a customer outfit, Virgin had a mixed season with three wins and three other podium finishes but bore a high price of close combat racing throughout the season. So to end up one point ahead of Nissan e. dams at the end of the season was a job well done all things considered.
But at the start of the new campaign and a successful pre-season test, Virgin are only aiming for the championship and with two experienced and world-class drivers in Sam Bird and Robin Frijns, there is no reason why that cannot happen.
Bird has been with the outfit since day one and has scored his eight wins and 17 podium finishes with the team. He was the bridesmaid in 2017-18 and will be looking to be the bride this season.
Frijns has proved himself in every category of motorsport and after limited success first time around, he proved himself in abundance last season.
Frijns said: “I really enjoyed my first season with the team last year and to pick up two
victories was very special. The off-season has seen a great deal of effort from every member of the team to ensure we’re in the best possible shape and I think
that showed during official testing.”
Nissan e. dams
After being rebranded from Renault to Nissan e. dams, the outfit struggled at the start of last season but soon started to perform with the most pole positions of any team last year with six between their drivers Sebastien
Buemi and Oliver Rowland.
This season should be even better with a greater focus on efficiency and reliability rather than out and out performance which should make them more of a force in race conditions. But with a strong end to the season especially from Buemi should give them hope for the upcoming campaign.
With Buemi and Rowland returning to the team yet again, this stability within the team should allow them to focus on themselves and start to become a bigger threat over the course of the season.
BMW I Andretti Motorsport
After starting last season as pre-season favourites, the German-American outfit slowly but surely faded over the course of the campaign, starting with an all-out civil war in Marrakesh. But ultimately the performance was not there for their lead driver Antonio Felix Da Costa to challenge the likes of Vergne, Di Grassi or Buemi at the end of the year.
Now with their lead driver gone, BMW have a very youthful line-up in Maxmillian Gunther and Alexander Sims. The pressure will be high on young shoulders, but after impressing in pre-season testing, the question is can they string together a solid season?
Just like at Andretti, Mahindra started last season strongly but soon faded over the course of the year. Now they will be desperate to build on it to produce a solid campaign.
Jerome D’ Ambrosio and ex-Mercedes driver Pascal Wehrlein will drive for them with them yet again and hope to build on early season success last year.
Just like many of its rivals, Mahindra has opted for a stable line-up this year, knowing they need to have a successful season as the likes of Mercedes, Porsche, BMW and Audi try to impose themselves in this pioneering series.
Ahead of the start of the season, Dilbagh Gill Team Principal of Mahindra Formula E Team said: “It’s important that Mahindra Racing continues to show innovation in its approach to raising environmental awareness and trying to help the world we all live in.
“We’re proud to be the only Formula E team to achieve FIA Sustainability Accreditation and to continue to set the standard.
“Turning our attention to on track, we are incredibly excited and driven to get Season 6 underway. We’ve been working incredibly hard in the offseason to ensure we are competitive out of the box. Diriyah is a wonderful track that we enjoyed last year, and we celebrated there with a podium. We’re looking to step back on the rostrum once again when we get the competition underway.”
Part two of the teams and drivers preview will be out tomorrow, looking at the insurgent threat for the forthcoming season.