Formula E talking points with new season set to begin with double header at Diriyah E-Prix
Who are the new names joining the series? Will we see a first British Formula E champion? And how does the new qualifying format work? Season 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship begins on 28 and 29 January live on Eurosport 2.
The world’s premier all-electric racing series is back this weekend as Season 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship gets underway with a double header on Friday and Saturday at the Diriyah E-Prix.
Season 8 will be Formula E’s biggest to date with 16 races in 12 of the world’s most iconic cities including debuts in Vancouver, Seoul and Jakarta. Coverage of the races will be aired live on Eurosport 2.
Here are all the key talking points ahead of the return of the planet’s favourite motorsport.
The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship is used to an off-season shake-up of the driver grid. This year has been no different, with three new names joining the series.
Previous seasons have seen many stars, both young and established, swap F1 for Formula E, such as Felipe Massa and Stoffel Vandoorne, both joining in Season 5. The trend has continued in 2021-22 with Antonio Giovinazzi joining from the Alfa Romeo Formula One Team.
The promising Italian links up with former McLaren and Red Bull F1 test driver Sergio Sette Camara at Dragon / Penske Autosport and admitted he is anticipating a period of adaptation to electric motorsport
Red Bull and Williams test driver Dan Ticktum (NIO 333) and 2019 Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew (Avalanche Andretti) are the other additions to a highly competitive grid.
This season will see six British drivers compete for the title, with Jaguar TCS Racing’s Sam Bird heading up the group to keep up his record of racing in every E-Prix since the series’ inception. He’ll look to also continue his enviable status as the only driver to win a race in every season.
Oliver Rowland and Alex Sims at Mahindra Racing are both into their fourth season in Formula E and have eight podiums between them, while Cumbria’s Oliver Turvey (NIO 333) is another established name on the grid.
Turvey’s new teammate Ticktum is one to keep an eye on. The 22-year-old finished fourth in the FIA Formula 2 Championship last season and is a former winner of the Autosport National Driver of the Year award in 2018. His strong personality versus Turvey’s measured expertise will be one of the more interesting team combinations to watch this season.
Finally, Avalanche Andretti’s Jake Dennis heads into the season as one of the outside bets for the title having secured an unexpected Championship podium in his rookie year last season – finishing third overall.
The Nuneaton driver, whose title chances were cut short due to technical failure in the season finale in Berlin, said last year’s experiences have made him more determined than ever to become the first Brit to win a Formula E World Championship.
The 26-year-old joined up with Mercedes for Season 6 as the winner of the FIA Formula 2 Championship, the first time the F2 winner had directly joined the all-electric series.
De Vries’ consistency proved to be the deciding factor in his title victory and the Dutchman, who has also been linked to the Mercedes F1 seat should Lewis Hamilton retire, will be eager to replicate the start of his title-winning season in which he won the opening race.
‘Silly season’ drivers eager to make their mark
Lost among the other narratives of the Season 7 finale in Berlin was the performance of Britain’s Rowland, then of Nissan e.dams, who secured his fifth podium in Formula E to impressively finish second at the Tempelhof track.
The Barnsley native links up with fellow Brit Sims at Mahindra Racing for Season 8 in one of the surprising moves of the ‘silly season’.
This off-season saw plenty of moves around the grid with some well-established stars set to pull on different overalls for the first time in many years. Other swaps include Season 3 champion Lucas di Grassi replacing Norman Nato at ROKiT Venturi Racing, the latter joining Jaguar TCS Racing as a reserve driver, while former Andretti man Max Guenther replaces Rowland at Nissan e.dams.
Nyck De Vries of Netherlands drives with the Mercedes Benz EQ team during the second practice as part of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship - Puebla E-Prix Round 8 at Autodromo Miguel E Abed on June 19, 2021 in Puebla, Mexico.
Image credit: Getty Images
New ‘Champions League-style’ qualifying format begins in Riyadh
The Diryiah E-Prix will see the competitive debut of the new qualifying method Formula E has introduced for Season 8, which is set to shake things up like never before.
The knockout format has been compared in style to football’s Champions League or the Championship play-offs, with two groups of 11 drivers, ordered based on their Championship position, setting lap times in a 10-minute session.
The fastest four from each group then progress into the knockout stage. The fastest driver overall from each group will face off against the fourth-fastest driver from the corresponding group. The eight drivers will face off in head-to-head quarter-finals, with the fastest driver progressing in the quarter-finals and then the semi-finals until the final two are determined.
The winning driver in the final takes pole, while the runner-up lines up second and so on based on finishing position in the knockouts or group ranking.
Season 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship begins with a double header on Friday 28 January and Saturday 29 January live on Eurosport 2 at 17:00 GMT.