New Teams, New Stars: Revamped Formula E Launches Season Six 4 minuty czytania
Formula E

New Teams, New Stars: Revamped Formula E Launches Season Six

Gerald Enzinger
10 years as editor-in-chief at SportWoche, and working as a journalist at racetracks around the world for 20 years. Writes in Austria for media outlets including Autorevue, www.motorprofis.at, and the Kleine Zeitung.

The ABB FIA Formula E Championship is starting its sixth season—and electrifying more fans worldwide than ever before! The first joint testing taking place in Valencia, Spain, from October 15 through 18, 2019, will feature all 12 teams as well as prominent newcomers and established stars sporting new team colors. And possibly the most competitive line-up in motorsport!

This is what you should know about both teams and drivers after the long summer break: Who’s driving where? Who’s powering whom?

ABT Audi Sport Schaeffler (11 Lucas di Grassi, 66 Daniel Abt)

This must be unique in modern motorsports: Audi has been fielding the same pair of drivers since the series’ inaugural race; drivers and team will stick it out together yet again in Season Six. The company’s e-tron FE06 has been refined. It was seen in public for the first time at the Red Bull Ring.

BMW i Andretti Motorsport (28 Maximillian Günther, 27 Alexander Sims)

Maxi Günther (as he’s known), whose mother is Austrian, has managed the leap into an auto brand’s coveted cockpit. Henceforth this former GEOX DRAGON driver will drive for the Bavarian works team. He is living proof of the fact that the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, unlike most racing series, enables drivers to make their mark through excellent performances even in smaller teams. It is the balanced nature of the starting field that makes it possible. The second spot goes to Alexander Sims, as before, whose contract was renewed thanks to his strong performance at the end of the last season after a mind-boggling streak of bad luck.

DS TECHEETAH (13 Antonio Felix da Costa, 25 Jean-Eric Vergne)

Last season, this French-Chinese team won both the driver championship and the voestalpine European Races (through Jean-Eric Vergne) as well as the team ranking. But the legendary team of drivers known as “Jeandre”—which consisted of Vergne and his close friend, Andre Lotterer—has split up. The German driver has returned to Porsche and even took his racing engineer with him. DS TECHEETAH has replaced him with another one of Vergne’s friends: Antonio Felix da Costa, who has joined the team from BMW; before that, he and “JEV” were part of the Austrian Red Bull Junior Team.

Envision Virgin (2 Sam Bird, 4 Robin Frinjs)

The English team is banking on consistency: both the driver pairing and the powertrain partner (Audi) remain unchanged.

GEOX DRAGON Racing (7 Nico Müller, 6 Brendon Hartley)

The Americans are fielding a new and most attractive pair of drivers: DTM runner-up Nico Müller—who’s garnered attention in the Formula E for years thanks to amazing test run times will be joined by former Formula 1 driver and Le Mans winner, Brendon Hartley who was supporting Porsche with their set-up ahead of their debut season.

Mahindra Racing (64 Jerome D’Ambrosio, 94 Pascal Wehrlein)

The Indians, who started really well last season but then had to contend with bad form, will rely on their existing, strong driver duo – with Belgian D’Ambrosio partnering Pascal Wehrlein for a second season.

Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team (5 Stoffel Vandoorne, 17 Nyck de Vries)

Mercedes-Benz “first glimpse” into Formula E came under the name, HWA RACELAB, is now long and forgotten. Going forward, Mercedes will field an official works team in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. Belgian driver, Stoffel Vandoorne, who came in third at the inaugural voestalpine European Races in Rome, Italy, will be the driver. And Toto Wolff, the company’s head of motorsport, has signed a young wild one to be his partner: Nyck de Vries is fresh from winning the FIA Formula 2 championship. That such an amazing talent is making the conscious decision to bank his future on the Formula E shows how coveted the cockpits in this electric car racing series already are.

NIO Formula E Team (both drivers still TBD)

The Chinese works team, which had no luck in season five and has been taken over by new owners as has rebranded as the NIO 333 FE Team. For testing, they will run team stalwart Oliver Turvey, with the return of Ma Qinghua to Formula E, after last appearing in season four.

Nissan e.dams (22 Oliver Rowland, 23 Sebastien Buemi)

In its second year as a factory entrant, Nissan is relying on the same combination of drivers. As regards the powertrain, however, the company had to start from scratch, because the innovative yet disputed double-engine solution is now prohibited. This season will be a special one for the team: They will be driving for the man who shaped the works team: DAMS founder, Jean-Paul Driot, who passed away over the summer – with his sons – Gregory and Olivier – taking over as joint team principals.

Panasonic Jaguar Racing (20 Mitch Evans, 51 James Calado)

Mitch Evans, who drove Jaguar to its inaugural Formula E win at the inaugural voestalpine European Races in Rome, remains on board as the “captain.” After Nelson Piquet Jr. and Alex Lynn, he will now get the third new teammate within a single year: James Calado is the new driver. He comes from the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), where he drove for Ferrari and was one of the most implacable rivals of Richard Lietz, the driver from Lower Austria.

TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team (36 Andre Lotterer, 18 Neel Jani)

Alejandro Agag, the founder of this racing series, spoke of a “milestone” when he succeeded within a mere days to get German motorsport giants, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, to participate in his new series. The time has come. In contrast to Mercedes (HWA RACELAB 2018/19), Porsche is jumping right in without running a “trial season” first and is building almost all components itself. Two old friends make up the driver duo: Andre Lotterer (previously with DS TECHETAAH) and Neel Jani; both delivered great performances in the WEC. The test drivers are exciting too: the Swiss driver, Simona de Silvestro, and Thomas Preining, who hails from Linz, Austria, and is the very first Formula E driver to drive for Austria also.

Venturi Racing (19 Felipe Massa, 48 Edo Mortara)

The winners of the Hong Kong race are banking on the Mortara/Massa driver team this season too. But the powertrain partner is new. Starting immediately, the Monaco-based outfit will be collaborating closely with Mercedes.
The ABB FIA Formula E Championship begins in November in Saudi Arabia. Five of the 14 races in the new season are considered part of the voestalpine European Races. These are the races in Rome (April 4, 2020); Paris (April 18, 2020); Berlin (June 21, 2020); and London (July 25 and 26, 2020).

Gerald Enzinger