Formula ESeason Review

Season Preview: ABB FIA Formula E World Championship – The Start of Chapter Three for Formula E

23 Mins read
Credit: Simon Galloway courtesy of FIA Formula E

With 2023 now upon us, it’s time to stop reflecting on what went down last season and start focusing on the year ahead, with the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship just a matter of days away from a truly monumental campaign.

2022 was a phenomenal year for the all-electric series and has been dubbed by many as its best yet, with new host cities, action-packed races, and a four-way title fight that went right down to the wire. As incredible as Season Eight was, though, it also marked a goodbye, to the second generation of Formula E.

The much loved Gen2 challenger is very much now in the past, with generation three of Formula E being the present and the future, as the sport gets itself ready for Mexico City. For Season Nine of the electric single-seater series the sport has taken a bold risk, by introducing new cars which are faster, lighter, more powerful, more efficient, and drastically different visually, partly due to the new 470bhp cars boasting front and rear powertrains.

Gen3 of Formula E is a stroke of engineering genius, there is no doubt about that, with the cars being a a huge leap forwards both technologically and in regard to its engineering, compared to Gen2. This huge leap, though, has caused a number of issues. Resource woes, battery faults, and technical malfunctions have seen the FIA and Formula E running around like mad, to ensure not only that a championship can take place, but that the drivers can compete safely.

Credit: FIA Formula E

Thankfully, it does seem like most of the issues with the Gen3 machinery have been solved, with the majority of the teams having conducted a successful week of pre-season testing at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Valencia, in December. Some technical issues were still evident, though, with Sébastian Buemi having crashed without being able to slow his car following a malfunction. A braking failsafe system is set to be implemented, but likely won’t be available until the first few races have been completed, a concern that has been raised by the drivers.

Teething problems are to be expected, though, as they always are when a motor sport introduces a new era of machinery. Formula E is simply no different in that aspect. With new teams, new drivers, a new era of car and new host cities, there is so much to look forward to in 2023.

There is no hiding the fact, though, that Season Nine needs to be a success for Formula E, with the sport enduring a difficult period in regard to marketing and holding on to manufacturers. The sport must deliver excitement to the fans in 2023 after taking the huge gamble with Gen3, because a difficult road could follow should the new cars not take the sport to another level. The time to deliver has to be now for Formula E, with 2023 set to be arguably the make-or-break year for the truly phenomenal series.

Eleven teams and twenty-two drivers are set to give it their best shot, though, so let’s go through the Formula E class of 2023!

Maserati MSG Racing – Edoardo Mortara and Maximilian Günther

Maserati’s return to motorsport has started emphatically so far in Formula E, with Maserati MSG Racing having enjoyed an excellent pre-season, with the Monte-Carlo-based side having set the fastest time in Valencia. The side have successfully rebranded during the off-season from ROKIT Venturi Racing, with Edoardo Mortara having remained with the squad he’s been with since joining the series in Season Four.

Mortara’s experience in fighting for the title in Season Eight will be incredibly valuable towards a potential Championship pursuit this season, with the Swiss driver having hopefully learnt from what let him down last season. After finishing the last two seasons in the top three, Mortara will be hoping that the start of Gen3 will give him that final push needed to end the year on top, with the team’s Maserati Tipo Folgore proving to be quite the package so far. Mortara ended pre-season with the ninth quickest time, likely filling the thirty-five year old with confidence that should he not be a victim of reliability woes, then he could be at the sharp end once again come the season finale.

Maserati’s line-up is completed with Maximilian Günther, who made the switch from the Nissan Formula E Team after just a season with the Japanese manufacturer. The German driver seemingly feels like he has a point to prove, with the twenty-five year old having done nothing special to deserve a spot on the grid for Season Nine. Alas, Maserati’s gamble may well pay off in extraordinary fashion, with the three-time E-Prix winner having topped five out of seven sessions in Valencia, marking him as a very early title contender. He set the fastest overall time in Valencia which was also a Formula E lap record, with his 1:25.127 being just over four-tenths faster than Mortara.

There should be a real sense of excitement around the Maserati camp, with the side looking like the real deal for Gen3. Their powertrain which has been rebranded as Maserati, but is supplied by DS Automobiles, looks exceptional and by far the best package. With the best package, though, comes pressure and expectation, with pre-season testing having proven that Maserati should be towards the front come Mexico City.

Credit: Maserati MSG Racing

DS Penske – Jean-Éric Vergne and Stoffel Vandoorne

The newly formed collaboration of DS Automobiles and Penske Autosport looks set to be the team to beat come the season opener on January 14, with the LA-based outfit boasting the most decorated partnership in Formula E, consisting of three Drivers’ Championships. DS Penske are rocking the famously distinctive gold and black livery as used by DS Techeetah, one which has seen countless victories in the all-electric series.

Double Formula E Champion Jean-Éric Vergne, who has claimed five victories for DS specifically, will be hoping to add to that tally in 2023, and become the first driver to win a race in all three generations of Formula E. The incredible Frenchman has remained with DS through their break-up with Techeetah, despite having been with the Shanghai-based company since Season Three. Vergne was the third fastest driver in Valencia and was consistently in the top-five throughout testing, ensuring that the thirty-two year old will likely be in the mix throughout the season.

Completing the most decorated partnership for Season Nine is reigning World Champion Stoffel Vandoorne, who has switched to DS Penske following the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team‘s departure from the series. Vandoorne will be hungry to retain his crown in Season Nine, with the new generation of car set to make his title defence that much more difficult. However, he has the best machinery at his disposal to attempt just that and looked very impressive in Spain, where he set the second fastest time. Vandoorne was another name always amongst the top-five during pre-season, suggesting that there is every chance he’ll be a contender for the title.

Similar to Maserati, DS Penske might feel some pressure come the season opener, if not more. Whilst they didn’t claim the fastest time, DS Penske do appear to have the best overall package and endured a relatively reliable week in Valencia compared to others. Having a fast but equally reliable package will be vital for success in 2023, with early season results likely to be a key factor for both Vergne and Vandoorne should they want to be in the title fight once again. As impressive as the pairing is, though, the team will have a task on their hands to ensure they don’t clash, with Vergne in particular having history of pushing a team-mate to the limit, and occasionally beyond it.

Credit: Sam Bloxham courtesy of FIA Formula E

NEOM McLaren Formula E Team – Jake Hughes and René Rast

Next up is a certain NEOM McLaren Formula E Team, with the British manufacturer being by far the biggest newbie for 2023. McLaren are continuing to widen their presence in motorsport, with Formula E simply being the next championship for the company to crack. They’ve joined at a time that can be deemed to be both ideal and also far from optimal at the very same time, with the advantage of joining in Season Nine being that everyone is starting from scratch with the new cars. However, given that the sport is in survival mode, their is the chance that McLaren won’t get to show their true potential due to resources and spare parts issues throughout the paddock.

Despite any concerns, though, they enjoyed an excellent pre-season in Valencia and ended the week being the third-fastest team. Rookie Jake Hughes claimed third spot honours and has settled into the team remarkably well, having remained with the side following the change from being the Mercedes-EQ outfit, to McLaren. Hughes could be a real underdog in 2023, with the Brit having featured regularly towards the top, with him being one of the few drivers to get amongst the times set by the DS-powered drivers. The former Mercedes-EQ reserve and simulator driver also won a mock-race during pre-season, something that’ll surely give him confidence.

On the other side of the McLaren camp is the returning René Rast, who last featured in the sport back in Season Seven and left following the departure of Audi. Rast was the eighth quickest driver in Valencia and did well to get back up to speed, with his racing experience likely to play an important role in helping the team understand the Gen3 car and their Nissan powertrain. Rast is a Formula E podium finisher and was incredibly consistent in Season Seven, something he’ll he hoping to repeat in Season Nine given how important consistency will be.

McLaren do appear to have a great package and have gotten on with their Nissan powertrain fairly well; however, they were one of a vast number of teams to face reliability issues, something which could impact them in 2023. Reliability is a huge concern amongst the paddock, with the likelihood being that the winning side come the end of the year, will be the one who consistently made it to the checkered flag. McLaren’s blend of Hughes’ youth and Rast’s experience sets them up nicely for the present and the future, with the side also having World Championship winning staff thanks to gaining most from Mercedes-EQ, including, Team Principal Ian James.

Credit: Sam Bloxham courtesy of FIA Formula E

Mahindra Racing – Oliver Rowland and Lucas Di Grassi

Mahindra Racing have enjoyed a reasonably solid pre-season and enter 2023 open-minded, with the side also having new leadership following the departure of the incredibly popular Dilbagh Gill. Ahead of pre-season testing, the Anglo-Indian side announced former Formula E Director Frederic Bertrand as their new CEO, following his departure from the FIA. One thing that was apparent in Valencia was that Mahindra’s powertrain reliability was better than most, whilst their overall pace was also very respectable, with Oliver Rowland having set the fifth fastest time in Spain making Mahindra the fourth-fastest side.

Rowland remains with the team for the start of Gen3, with the British driver having joined Mahindra in Season Eight. 2022 was a disappointing year for Rowland, with the thirty-year old having retired from half of the races. He did claim a sole podium in Seoul, though, marking the team’s only rostrum finish of the last season of Gen2. Rowland looked good during pre-season and was another driver capable of mixing it with the DS-powered drivers. He ended the week just under two-tenths behind Günther, something that should give him and the team some confidence of being able to battle towards the top of the midfield.

Alongside Rowland is Season Three Champion Lucas Di Grassi, who switched from Venturi to Mahindra for Season Nine. The switch was likely inspired by Mahindra being a customer outfit of the returning ABT Sportsline, who the Brazilian driver worked with from Season One to Season Seven. Whilst it is far too early to be concerned, Di Grassi’s pace wasn’t excellent in Spain, with the thirty-eight year old having seemingly prioritised long-run pace in the Mahindra M9Electro, with every lap of data being vital to understanding the new beasts. The thirteen-time Formula E race winner is optimistic about the season to come, with his experience likely to suit the Indian team.

With Rowland having been fifth fastest and Di Grassi having been fifteenth, Mahindra appear on paper to be a front midfield side at best; however, their impressive reliability could see them pick-up very strong results in the first half of the year. With the team having celebrated two wins in Gen2, there is a real chance that they could get their Gen3 tally up and running should the likes of Maserati and DS Penske falter. Di Grassi and Rowland’s aggressiveness could be something to watch out for, with many drivers having admitted that the Gen3 cars will punish a driver for pushing it too hard. Overall, Mahindra are certainly a team worth keeping an eye on come Mexico City.

Credit: Mahindra Racing

Jaguar TCS Racing – Sam Bird and Mitch Evans

Following their most successful season since joining Formula E, Jaguar TCS Racing are keen to build on their fourth place finish in the 2022 Constructors’ Championship, with the British team having scored more points than ever before in Season Eight. Pre-season for the first year of Gen3, though, has been mixed, with the side having been the fifth quickest team in Valencia. Jaguar did experience their issues like most, with one in particular having been so concerning to the point that the team briefly halted their running. With Envision Racing being a Jaguar customer side, the British team halted their running following Buemi’s huge crash, before continuing their running.

Jaguar will be hoping that no similar incident will occur during the upcoming season, with Sam Bird having also crashed heavily during a private test. 2023 is a monumental year for Bird, with 2022 having been the Formula E veteran’s worst season in the sport by some margin. However, he is very excited about Gen3 and told The Checkered Flag at the team’s launch of the I-TYPE 6 that “Gen3 will suit me better than Gen2”. The early signs do suggest this, with Bird having been sixth quickest in Valencia. Bird looks much more comfortable in the Gen3 challenger and should feature back towards the sharp-end, with his run of winning a race every year having ended last season.

With Jaguar for a seventh season is, of course, Mitch Evans, who fought valiantly all season in 2022 just to fall short of the title to Vandoorne. Evans has been building in stature year after year, with his pattern of improvement suggesting that Season Nine should be his year. The key word, though, is ‘should’… He enters Season Nine having been one of the more successful drivers during Gen2, with the question mark being whether he’ll enjoy as much success with the new cars. Evans told TCF at Jaguar’s 2023 launch that he’s had enough of feeling like “a bridesmaid”; however, he’ll need to finish higher than where he did in Valencia to end that sensation.

Bird and Evans is an incredibly reliable and experienced line-up, one where both drivers have experience of both Gen1 and Gen2 of the sport. This could be an advantage for the team in regard to gathering data, with both drivers seemingly knowing how to get an understanding of a new car. Evans ending the Valencia test in eighteenth might be somewhat of a concern for Jaguar; however, the key for them before Mexico will be to ensure that what happened to Buemi won’t happen to Bird or Evans. The early signs are that Jaguar have developed a powertrain that looks sharp in qualifying trim, something which cost them last season. Should they be quick in the duels, then they will feature at the front in 2023.

Credit: Jaguar TCS Racing

Nissan Formula E Team – Sacha Fenestraz and Norman Nato

The Nissan Formula E Team were perhaps one of the teams who needed Gen2 to end, with the Japanese manufacturer having endured a miserable Season Eight. Buemi and Günther departing is a sign that the team are treating Gen3 as a fresh start, with exciting rookie Sacha Fenestraz and Season Seven Formula E competitor Norman Nato completing a new-look line-up. Nissan’s line-up is arguably the least-experienced on the grid; however, that could weirdly work in their favour due to their drivers little experience of driving in the sport. Being the sixth-fastest team in Valencia will give them some confidence of being part of the midfield battle, should their powertrain be reliable.

Fenestraz is one of two rookies in 2023, with the other being the incredibly impressive Hughes at McLaren. Fenestraz is a very talented driver in his own right, with the twenty-three year old having enjoyed a brilliant season in Super Formula in 2022. He claimed second in the Japanese series last year, a campaign which has seen him rewarded with a drive at Nissan. The Frenchman did replace Antonio Giovinazzi at late notice for the Season Eight finale in Seoul, where he finished sixteenth for Dragon/Penske Autosport. He ended the week in Valencia twenty-first and 1.3 seconds off the pace; however, it was certainly a week of learning for the former Jaguar reserve driver.

Nato is by far Nissan’s experienced driver for 2023, with the Frenchman having raced for Venturi during Season Seven, where he did win the season finale that year in Berlin. The thirty-year old most recently replaced Bird at the Seoul E-Prix due to the Brit’s hand injury; however, he failed to claim a points finish. Nato is a strong addition by Nissan to perhaps take the team forward in Gen3, with him being known as an exceptionally fast driver on his day. He looked good in pre-season testing and ended it in seventh-place, highlighting his ability to post fast lap-times. In a touching gesture, Nato will use the number seventeen in 2023, in honour of the late Jules Bianchi.

Thanks to Nato, Nissan did remarkably top a session whilst in Valencia, something that would’ve likely come as a beautiful sight for the Japanese team, given that they spent 2022 towards the back. With McLaren, Nissan’s customer team, having looked so impressive, the Japanese team will likely hope that they’ll be able to collaborate closely with McLaren to find similar performance. Whilst Nato will likely be a midfield runner at least from Mexico City, Fenestraz will perhaps be a more prominent figure towards the latter end of the season, with the rookie deserving time to adjust to the sport properly. Nevertheless, Nissan will be hopeful of a solid start to Gen3.

Credit: Malcolm Griffiths courtesy of FIA Formula E

ABT CUPRA Formula E Team – Robin Frijns and Nico Mueller

After a year out of the championship, ABT Sportsline have returned to all-electric series through a collaboration with Spanish automaker Cupra, forming the ABT CUPRA Formula E Team. Cupra are, of course, the sporting division of Spanish manufacturer SEAT, who are owned by the Volkswagen Group. ABT work exceptionally close with Audi who too are part of the VW-Group, with ABT and Cupra having partnered up in other series. ABT are in their own right one of the most successful companies in the history of Formula E, with the Germans boasting fourteen wins from their time partnered with Audi. It’s not just a reunion for ABT with the championship for Season Nine, with two familiar faces in their line-up.

Racing for the Mahindra customer outfit in 2023 are Robin Frijns and Nico Mueller, who is another driver making a return to the series following a year away. Focusing on Frijns, the Dutchman posted the tenth-fastest time in Valencia, marking ABT as the seventh-quickest outfit in pre-season. The two-time Formula E race winner has switched to ABT following a four-year stint with Envision Racing, with Frijns having been keen to return to the company he raced for in DTM, alongside Mueller interestingly enough. With two wins and fourteen podiums from Gen2 alone, Frijns is clearly one of the top drivers when given the right machinery, making him a great signing to lead ABT’s 2023 charge.

Mueller returns to the sport for Season Nine having not competed in the championship since the Season Seven Monaco E-Prix, marking the best part of a year-and-a-half away from the series. Returning with ABT is ideal for the Swiss driver, who has mentioned, competed for ABT in DTM where he had a strong partnership with Frijns. Mueller is a Formula E podium finisher from Season Seven so knows how to compete towards the front; however, he will likely need time to get back into the swing of things given how intense a Formula E weekend is. The thirty year-old set the nineteenth fastest time in Valencia and was a second off the pace, and over 0.5 seconds behind Frijns.

There is a great sense of excitement seeing the ABT name return to the series, with the company being one of the founding partners of Formula E. A challenging season, though, is seemingly ahead for the Kempten-based outfit, with Mueller having told that he sees them as an “underdog” this season. Frijns has been open in admitting that ABT “might struggle” during the first half of the season, suggesting that until the latter part of the season, ABT might find themselves outside the points. They will be encouraged, though, by how strong Mahindra’s reliability was in Valencia, suggesting that ABT’s issue in Mexico City might be pace, rather than reliability.

Credit: Sam Bloxham courtesy of FIA Formula E

Envision Racing – Nick Cassidy and Sébastian Buemi

Pre-season has not been kind to Envision Racing, with the British outfit having arguably faced more reliability issues than most, something which ridiculed their time in Valencia. Their week in Spain was one which saw the Silverstone-based outfit endure countless reliability woes, to the point where seeing either Nick Cassidy or Sébastian Buemi in the pits became the norm of pre-season. Jaguar’s customer team will have real concerns going into Mexico City, with the side having much to solve. They ended the week in December as the seventh-fastest side but with minimal running having been completed, with the headline of their week being Buemi’s worrying crash.

Cassidy was the Envision driver who set the time during pre-season to give the team the ‘eighth-fastest’ title, after setting the eleventh quickest lap in Spain. His week was tormented by reliability issues, with the Kiwi having retired from the mock-race that took place during the week in Valencia before sitting out the entirety of the final morning of testing. He endured other reliability-based niggles during the week, something that will likely see Cassidy perhaps feeling unprepared ahead of the season opener. His third season with Envision looks set to be the most challenging mentally, and physically by some margin, with the long game likely to be needed.

Buemi seemingly can’t catch a break in Formula E at the moment, with the Season Two Champion having switched from Nissan for the start of Gen3, following a woeful couple of years. The Swiss driver was the seventeenth fastest driver in Valencia and also suffered issues during the mock-race. Buemi entered the pits during the race but did go on to finish it, unlike several others. His week in Valencia, though, will be remembered for how it ended, after the thirteen-time winner suffered a huge crash, with reports that he couldn’t slow down his Jaguar I-TYPE 6. His impact with the barrier is rumoured, but not confirmed, to have occurred due to an issue with Jaguar’s inverter, which shut the car down.

Envision will be entering the new season likely with a run of sleepless nights, with question marks over the safety of the Gen3 cars having been raised as a result of Buemi’s crash. Cassidy reportedly experienced the same issue but managed to slow his car down in a gravel trap, rather than by hitting a barrier. When able to run smoothly the team look like a midfield runner; however, the likelihood is that after gathering less data than most, Buemi and Cassidy will be looking forwards, rather than backwards. Damage limitation is certainly looking like a potential theme for the start of the British camp’s season, with gathering data presumably the key following their lack of pre-season running.

Credit: Sam Bloxham courtesy of FIA Formula E

TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team – Pascal Wehrlein and António Félix Da Costa

The TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team enter Season Nine with an impressive line-up, but a less than impressive car based on pre-season timings. The German manufacturer were the ninth-placed team in Valencia, with work clearly needing to be done. Since joining the all-electric series, Porsche are yet to really show-off their renowned motorsport pedigree, with the German giants having been a midfield side for their entire stint of Formula E so far. Pre-season testing doesn’t suggest any better, with Pascal Wehrlein and the newly signed Season Six Champion António Félix Da Costa having ended the week in the bottom-half of the timing sheets.

Wehrlein ended pre-season testing twelfth and almost eight-tenths off Günther; however, the team are expecting themselves to be closer come Mexico City. Wehrlein actually performed well during the mock-race and claimed fifth, a result he would’ve likely been pleased with. The German is preparing for his third season with the Stuttgart-based outfit and will be keen to add to his first Formula E victory from Season Eight, which funnily enough came at Mexico City.

Alongside him is Da Costa, who joins Porsche as a works driver following a three-year spell with DS Techeetah. Da Costa’s week in Valencia wasn’t anything to write home about, with the Portuguese driver seemingly another competitor who spent the week getting to know his new home. He left Spain 1.2 seconds off the pace in twentieth, a position he almost certainly won’t be in come Mexico City, he’ll hope.

Porsche actually started the week in Valencia with both drivers in the top ten, suggesting that the German side do have some pace in the Porsche 99X Electric Gen3 when they require it. The Germans pre-season as a whole has been shaky with considerable private testing having been cancelled following reliability issues with the battery pack supplied by the sport, with Porsche having been critical of the way Gen3 has been introduced so quickly after the conclusion of Gen2. Gen3 will hopefully see Porsche fighting for the podiums and victories that the company have become so used to across the globe, with a question perhaps being if they’ll remain in Formula E if success isn’t achieved at last.

Credit: Sam Bloxham courtesy of FIA Formula E

Avalanche Andretti Formula E – Jake Dennis and André Lotterer

Whilst the timing sheets didn’t offer Avalanche Andretti Formula E much to cheer about, the team were relatively happy with the progress they made in Valencia. The side might have ended pre-season testing as the tenth-fastest outfit, but they were able to take confidence from having gained an understanding of Porsche’s powertrain, with Andretti being a Porsche customer team for 2023. Andretti ended Gen2 as one of the fastest side’s on the grid, with the hope being that they can take the confidence gained from this into Gen3, where life does look set to be more challenging.

Jake Dennis was one of the star’s of 2022, with the British driver having been on phenomenal form in the latter end of the Gen2 era, with the Andretti driver having claimed a famous victory at his home race. The twenty-seven year old is embarking on his third campaign with Andretti and ended pre-season testing happy with the progress himself and the team had made, according to GiveMeSport. Dennis set the thirteenth-fastest time in pre-season which is a result that perhaps won’t please him, with Dennis admitting that the team have “areas to improve”.

Replacing American driver Oliver Askew at Andretti for Season Nine is the vastly experienced André Lotterer, who has departed the factory Porsche team for Andretti. Whilst he has left the main Porsche side, he remains as a driver for the side due to his commitments in the World Endurance Championship. There was speculation during 2022 that Lotterer wouldn’t even be on the grid this year; however, he will for certain make his presence known come the first E-Prix. Lotterer ended pre-season testing as the sixteenth-fastest driver and just under a second off the leading pace, suggesting that one-lap performance isn’t Andretti’s nor Porsche’s strength.

Rapid improvements from both Andretti and Porsche, though, should potentially be expected, with Lotterer having told The Race that “an exchange in knowledge and data” will occur between the two. The team did manage to gather plenty of data in Spain, with Lotterer having set a strong haul of laps prior to issues on the final day of running. They were, though, one of the sides to suffer from a brake-by-wire system fault, an issue that will likely be seen far too often during the opening few rounds of the season. Overall, Andretti’s season could be one of gradual improvement as the year goes on, as every team seemingly works to get closer to the DS-powered cars.

Credit: Sam Bloxham courtesy of FIA Formula E

NIO 333 Racing – Dan Ticktum and Sérgio Sette Câmara

The final team of the class of 2023 is, of course, NIO 333 Racing, who ended pre-season as the slowest team based on their fastest lap. Whilst NIO have become very used to running at the back following a miserable Gen2 era for the team, there is actually a lot to be happy about for the Anglo-Chinese side. The Silverstone-based team did feature at times in the top ten of the timesheets, a feat they rarely had the chance to celebrate during Gen2. From the outside, a real sense of optimism is apparent, with the side having shared more images and videos of their challenger, the NIO 333 ER9, on social media than the majority of the sides.

For 2023, the team have retained former Formula 2 driver Dan Ticktum for a second season, with the Brit having been given the challenging task of completing his rookie campaign in the final year of the Gen2 era. The reset that Gen3 is producing in Formula E will hopefully allow Ticktum a chance to really show-off his talent, something he has done in brief moments during pre-season testing. Ticktum ended the week in fourteenth but just behind Porsche and Andretti, something that the Brit and the team can take confidence from. Reliability issues did play their part once again, though, with Ticktum having retired from the mock-race at the end of the first lap.

The final driver in the Season Nine field is one of the most exciting drivers on the grid, Sérgio Sette Câmara. Sette Câmara has joined NIO after spending 2022 with Dragon/Penske, with the Brazilian having often put in remarkable qualifying performances. Race management let the Brazilian down fairly often; however, he certainly has the potential to be a consistent points finisher if he can translate his performances in the duels, into race pace. His time with NIO hasn’t started brilliantly, with the twenty-four year old having ended testing as the slowest driver, whilst also being 1.4 seconds off the pace. Failure to make progress could result in a long year for Sette Câmara.

NIO are a side who nobody would mind making considerable progress, with the team also being the only powertrain supplier without a customer team. This will likely cost them, given that every other supplier will have four cars to gather data from, whereas they’ll have just the two. Reliability is a concern seemingly for the side, concerningly, with Sette Câmara having failed to even start the mock-race, following a suspected battery problem. The side do have an incredibly young driver line-up which could both work in their favour and go against them, with an experienced head usually pivotal in understanding new machinery. NIO could, though, slide completely under the radar in Mexico, should their young pairing deliver.

Credit: Simon Galloway courtesy of FIA Formula E

2023 Race Calendar – Four new host cities take centre stage

Season Nine will see four new host cities hold E-Prix’s, with each being in a different continent. Formula E’s global reach is truly growing momentum at least in regard to the host cities themselves, with the championship set to race in Cape Town, South Africa next season, as well as Hyderabad in India, and São Paulo in Brazil. These three also represent three new countries for Formula E, with the fourth new host for Season Nine being Portland, Oregon, United States.

It does mean that Formula E will race in South Africa before Formula 1 returns to the nation, with the race set to be one of the fastest the sport has ever seen. The full 2023 calendar consists of sixteen races across eleven countries, with London regaining its slot as being the season finale. Diriyah, Berlin, Jakarta, Rome, and London will all hold double-headers, whilst the other six cities will host just the one race.

Formula E 2022-2023 Calendar

14 January 2023 – Mexico City
27-28 January 2023 – Diriyah, Saudi Arabia
11 February 2023 – Hyderabad, India
25 February 2023 – Cape Town, South Africa
25 March 2023 – São Paulo, Brazil
22-23 April 2023 – Berlin, Germany
6 May 2023 – Monaco
3-4 June 2023 – Jakarta, Indonesia
24 June 2023 – Portland, Oregon, US
15-16 July 2023 – Rome, Italy
29-30 July 2023 – London, UK

Credit: Sam Bagnall courtesy of FIA Formula E

New rules, regulations, format, and tyres for 2023

 As well as the cars, the tyres are also facing a considerable change for Gen3, with Hankook having replaced Michelin as the sport’s official tyre manufacturer. Firm appears to be an understatement when trying to describe what the 2023 rubber is like; however, the low wear of the Korean company’s tyres has been highly praised, with drivers being able to push harder both earlier and for longer.

A whole heap of format changes are also set to be introduced at the season opener in Mexico City. For Season Nine, FanBoost has been dropped and the races will be done on a lap counter rather than a forty-five minutes-and-a-lap timer, with the latter set to make the races much easier to follow for both existing and new fans to the sport.

As well as these two changes, Attack Mode is set to be changed and the sport has introduced mandatory rookie Free Practice One sessions, identical to the rule used in Formula 1. From Season Nine, all the teams will need to use a rookie driver in two Free Practice One sessions during the season, something which has been somewhat criticised, given how compact a Formula E weekend already is.

One format change that won’t be seen until the second half of the season is fast-charging pit-stops, as a result of issues with the system during private testing. Following issues in testing, the sport are considering introducing fast charging pit-stops mid-season, The fast charging pit-stops will make an ‘Attack Charge’ race, where the drivers will need to complete a quick thirty-second pit-stop to access additional power. These races are set to occur at double-headers, with one race to use the traditional Attack Mode, whilst the other will use Attack Charge, when it’s implemented that is…

Credit: Sam Bloxham courtesy of FIA Formula E

How important is Season Nine for Formula E?

Very! The importance of Season Nine being successful could very well save the all-electric championship from being forgotten about, with the sport hanging very much on the edge of a cliff. Personally, there is nothing I’d love to see more than Formula E proving all its doubters wrong this season; however, it is a concern that this looks set to not happen, at least in the current condition of the sport. The sport must solve the reliability issues with the Gen3 cars as soon as possible, with exciting racing being the key to keeping the championship above the water.

On its day, Formula E is a sensational championship that deserves more attention than it gets, with Season Nine set to see some incredible host cities, one of the most competitive grids in world motorsport, and some of the most remarkable engineering and technology on show in the world today. There is the question if too much has been introduced too soon, with the new cars being one thing in itself for the teams, drivers and fans to get a gauge of, that’s without taking into consideration the huge list of regulation and format changes.

Reliability is the key for Formula E in 2023, with the fear being that technical faults will result in a runaway Champion. The racing in Formula E is always some of the very best in the world in regard to entertainment, something which Gen3 will hopefully see continue successfully. Formula E will be OK if the cars are reliable, with the situation appearing incredibly clear.

Give the drivers reliable machinery, and they will ensure that Formula E survives another day.

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