The ABB FIA Formula E Championship races into a new era this weekend (15 December) as the Ad Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia sets the fifth season of electric street racing in motion.
The biggest grid in Formula E history will line up on Saturday afternoon, as 22 drivers racing for 11 teams will go all-out to decide the first winner in the FIA Formula E Gen2 car. Together with a raft of new regulations, the championship is poised for its most exciting and unpredictable season yet.
Familiar Faces, New Challengers
Formula E welcomes a number of new teams into the fold in season five, with HWA RACELAB coming in as an all-new entity, while Nissan e.dams takes over from former triple-champion squad Renault e.dams and BMW adds full manufacturer support to the Andretti squad for the first time to create BMW i Andretti Motorsport.
In addition to the new teams come new drivers. Both of HWA’s challengers are Formula E debutants, with Gary Paffett and Stoffel Vandoorne both bringing a wealth of motor sport experience to this new venture. Oliver Rowland joins former Formula E champion Sebastien Buemi at Nissan, while Alexander Sims partners Antonio Felix da Costa for BMW.
The final Formula E rookies joining the grid this weekend will be Maximilian Gunther, who lines up alongside Jose Maria Lopez at GEOX DRAGON, and Venturi’s new signing Felipe Massa pairs up with Edoardo Mortara.
Several drivers who’ve competed in the all-electric championship before are returning for full-season campaigns. Robin Frijns will join Sam Bird at Envision Virgin Racing, Tom Dillmann lines up alongside Oliver Turvey at NIO Formula E Team. Jerome D’Ambrosio swaps suits for this year as he moves to Mahindra, completing a considerable shake-up of the 2018/19 grid.
The long-awaited debut of the Gen2
In addition to the new runners and riders for the coming year, this weekend will also see the hugely anticipated first race for the FIA Formula E Gen2 – the stunning car which represents a huge leap forward in technology made by the championship in just four years of racing.
The striking bodywork houses a battery with almost double the capacity of the first generation, meaning that the drivers will no longer need to make mid-race car swaps and will have more power at their disposal.
With an unrivalled nine of the world’s top car manufacturers homologating their own powertrains for the 2018/19 campaign, the race to make the most energy-efficient system possible creates a thrilling technical challenge for the teams and results in an unmatched motor sport spectacle on the track.
Find the full specification for the Gen2 car below…
New regulations shake up the battleground
With an all-new car comes a new sporting challenge, with some significant changes to the regulations ensuring that the signature on-track action of Formula E will continue on into this new era.
Firstly, the races will no longer be run to a set number of laps, but to a time limit of 45 minutes +1 Lap. This will make energy management more of a challenge, especially in the event of a full course yellow or safety car period which could potentially alter the total number of racing laps within the 45 minute window.
The drivers will now have to use two different power modes during each race, with brief periods of an ‘attack mode’ available which must be armed and activated by entering a designated zone off the racing line. The number of activations and duration of attack mode will be released by the FIA no later than one hour before the start of the race.
The number of drivers allocated FanBoost (additional extra energy of maximum 100 kJ (power minimum 240 kW, maximum 250 kW, and time to be managed by the team), will increase from three to five. The winning drivers will be allocated one boost, to be used once after the 22nd minute of the race.
Safety standards at an all-time high
Along with the technological innovations boasted by the new Gen2, the cars also come with the latest in safety innovations, featuring the halo head protection system.
Drivers must also wear biometric gloves whenever they get behind the wheel, which provide key information to medical staff should a driver rescue be necessary.