After many close encounters, last season and two of the biggest manufacturers in the world entering the 2019-20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship, season six of the all-electric racing series could see a distinct changing of the guard. But who are the insurgent challengers that hope to push DS Techeetah and Audi to the limit?
Panasonic Jaguar Racing
Panasonic Jaguar Racing had a successful 2018-19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship campaign with their first win and multiple podium finishes along the way. This meant that their lead driver Mitch Evans ran Jean-Eric Vergne and Lucas Di Grassi close for the title until the final race of the season at New York City. The Jaguar driver finished in the points in every race until Paris and accumulated over 100 points to his name.
But this season, they know that they will have to raise the bar again not only to keep their star driver for their long-term future but ultimately to challenge for the championship crown in this ultra-competitive championship.
Joining quick Mitch is former Ferrari GT driver and Le Mans class winner James Calado, who has switched from sports cars to Formula E as the series continues to gain in popularity and stature among the motorsport community. Calado is Jaguar’s third driver within a twelve month period, so there is a lot of hope that he will fit in.
James Barclay, Team Principal of Panasonic Jaguar Racing said ahead of Ad Diriyah: Our season six objective is to continue to make progress and to compete for more points, podiums and wins. With Mitch and James, we can look to build on the success of last season and push for more on-track success. We do not underestimate the task, we are up against the most competitive driver and team line up in the championship’s history but also in terms of current motorsport. As we head to Saudi Arabia, we are looking forward to the challenge and will be working hard to deliver a positive start to the season and to kick off our campaign well.”
Venturi Formula E Team
After exceeding their targets last season with a first pole and win last year, Venturi Formula E Team will be hopeful of a consistent season. The Monegasque outfit has taken a gamble by abandoning their own power-train and opting for one custom made by Mercedes-Benz in their first season in the championship.
Ex-Ferrari and Williams Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa will be racing alongside former Mercedes DTM driver Edoardo Mortara as the Italian/Swiss racer hopes to build on his victory at the 2019 Hong Kong ePrix to have a more consistent season in the unpredictable world of Formula E.
GEOX Dragon Racing
GEOX Dragon Racing has an all-new line-up for the 2019-20 ABB FIA Formula E Championship following their failures in the past two seasons. The American outfit had more than enough potential for regular points and podiums but ended a tough season a disappointing tenth in the championship.
Former Le Mans winner and Toro Rosso Formula 1 driver Brendon Hartley will be joined by Nico Muller as the American team are desperate to press the reset button on the past two seasons.
With the team owner by Jay Penske, Dragon knows that they must perform this season, and with Mercedes and Porsche joining the fray, they know more people than ever will be watching them perform on the big event table. They are definitely a team to watch this season.
NIO 333 Formula E Team
Another year and a new name for the NIO outfit as the Chinese-owned privateer outfit have once again be risked everything in the quest for success on a limited budget.
NIO endured a torrid test with limited running and only named their driver line-up days before going to Valencia. Oliver Turvey will once again be forced to step up to the plate to salvage what he can from every single weekend while Ma Qinghua will return this year.
This feels a bit like deja vu from last season as the Chinese team appear to be on the back foot, but they know that if this season is a damp squib, there is only so long until they will be forced to shut up shop. It will be a question of whether they can really stand the heat in the kitchen of Formula E?
Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team
Mercedes won their sixth drivers’ and teams titles this year as the Silver Arrows continues to assert its dominance over modern Formula 1. Now the might of Mercedes have decided to set themselves loose on Formula E, taking the spot that was filled last year by HWA RaceLab.
The pedigree of drivers behind the wheel matches what is on offer as Stoffel Vandoorne is joined by Nick De Vries at one of the best-resourced FE outfit on the grid.
But with a limitation on the technical loopholes in Formula E compared to F1, it is unlikely that Mercedes will be able to use their cash to have a performance edge anytime soon.
Judging from their performance in pre-season testing, this season will be a challenge as the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow 01 struggled as testing was limited for both Vandoorne and De Vries. But how Mercedes copes to life in the all-electric series will be one of the headlines of the season to come.
Stoffel Vandoorne, Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E race driver said: “We’re finally back in action. We have a long summer break behind us, during which time we had a lot to do. We did plenty of testing, and we got ourselves prepared as a team for the start of the season. I can hardly wait to get racing again. Testing is very nice, but it’s good to be switching back to race mode and to see where we are compared to the other teams. It’s not going to be easy, and it is hard to make any sort of forecast. We have to stay focused and try not to make mistakes. If we manage to do that, we should be in with a chance of a decent result.”
TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team
Joining Mercedes into the series enters Porsche Racing, who took a sabbatical from the World Endurance Championship at the end of 2017 to focus on Formula E. Now at the dawn of their competitive debut into the all-electric racing series, we will see if their hard work has paid off.
Porsche will be relying on the services of two of their former drivers, Andre Lotterer and Neel Jani, both of whom had a lot of success in Porsche cars in sports cars, and now hope to continue that successful partnership into Formula E.
Porsche know that this season will be a challenge and are ready for whatever may be thrown at them, but as they continue to develop more and more electric cars in the real world, the very fact that they are on the international stage of electric motorsport could prove to be a very risky gamble for them.
Now as the season dawns with round one this weekend, can anyone of the challengers truly take it to DS Techeetah, Audi and Nissan e. dams in a series that has gained its reputation for pioneering technology and exciting street fights? Season six will for sure be a new chapter in that journey.