Back in October 2023, Formula E kicked off its tenth season at Circuit Ricardo Tormo with Pre Season Testing. The test was planned to be spread over six three hour sessions, but instead they were off to a rocky start. But who came out on top and who should we look out for in the coming season?
A Fiery Start
Mitch Evans of Jaguar Racing led the first session on Tuesday with a time of 1:24.474 which would eventually end up being the fastest lap across the complete test. But also a lap record for Formula E at Valencia as the time was 6 tenths quicker than Maximilian Günther set back in 2022 during pre-season testing.
The session saw a red flag after Robert Shwartzman’s DS Penske came to a halt. Shwartzman was at the the test as Formula E mandated teams to run rookies twice across the test. A battery safety system was triggered in the car causing it to stop on track. Eventually, the car was brought back to the pits, where the battery was removed and taken to WAE.
The FIA confirmed that “while being manually inspected by the battery single supplier team, there was an arc flash and some sparking, that resulted in a localised fire”. This fire caused damage to the Mahindra garage which meant the team could only run a single car for the remainder of the test. A heavy hit for the manufacturer that was clearly the manufacturer with the poorest form last season.
The fire also meant the test was postponed indefinitely as an investigation had to be done to clarify what exactly had happened and whether it was safe to continue. Thursday afternoon the test continued with a four and a half hour session. On Friday the test continued with a ten hour session, however cars were restricted to 300kW of power opposed to 350kW as a safety measure. This meant no one could improve on the time Evans set early into the test, however his teammate Nick Cassidy and António Félix da Costa of Porsche came close to Evans while setting identical times to each other.
Who Fared Best?
The Jaguar and Porsche powertrains seemed to carry across their pace from last season. As Jaguar finished each session on top, their customer team Envision Racing wasn’t far away from them. The field was very close however, as all 22 regular drivers were within a second of each other.
Robin Frijns of Envision Racing won the simulation race ahead of António Félix da Costa on the Friday morning of the test. This made it an all Jaguar powertrain sweep during the sessions as Envision are customers of Jaguar.
DS Penske hopes to finally get back on form too after a difficult season 9 while teams like McLaren, Maserati, and Nissan also hope to be back on the podium again.
For ERT (Formerly NIO), Mahindra, and ABT Cupra, they should hope to find some attachment to the rest of the field and try to regularly be in the points.
Jaguar Racing managed to snatch an all-star line-up as Nick Cassidy joined their team over the off-season. Together with Mitch Evans they pose an incredible threat for both the driver’s championship and the team’s championship. However, with these two incredibly high performers the team has to watch out for possible fallouts between the drivers. Two teammates taking each other out while fighting for the win, isn’t unheard of in Formula E.
Cassidy left Envision which left a spot open for Robin Frijns to rejoin his former team. Frijns endured his worst Formula E season yet as he drove for Abt Cupra last season, the returning team finished last in the championship. During the first race of the season he crashed which left him with several breaks in his hand and wrist including a compound fracture.
He has recovered and is now determined to fight for the championship alongside his teammate, Sébastien Buemi. The Season 2 champion has endured a few difficult years in Formula E and hopes to be back on form next season.
It’s the season of returning to previous teams as Lucas di Grassi joined his former team in ABT Cupra while Oliver Rowland also returned to his former team Nissan.
Norman Nato joins reigning champion Jake Dennis at Andretti. Jake Dennis will once again pose a huge threat to defend his championship. While Norman Nato might be able to help the team score more points as departing Andre Lotterer only finished 18th in the driver’s championship. Though looking outside of the team’s championship, Nato could be a real underdog fighting for podiums and maybe even wins.
Jehan Daruvala is the only rookie on the grid as he joins Maserati to race alongside Maximilian Günther. While Sam Bird joins McLaren as he departs from a disappointing stint at Jaguar. Mahindra comes to the grid with a completely new line-up as champion Nyck de Vries rejoins the series and Edoardo Mortara leaves Maserati for Mahindra.
DS Penske, ERT and Porsche are the only teams to continue with the same line-up as last year.
Porsche hopes to improve from last season as the pace is clearly in their car, as could be seen from their customer team, Andretti. Their driver line-up certainly isn’t an issue as it features a Formula E champion and a multi-time Formula E race winner with António Félix da Costa and Pascal Wehrlein.
Will Attack Charge Take a Starring Role?
This season Formula E will finally implement Attack Charge at selected races. When this is implemented, drivers will be forced to take a pitstop during the race to fast charge their battery. This adds an extra element to the races and might be vital in deciding the championship, as there is much more that can go wrong.
Either way, it is set to be an exciting season with 16 races to take place all over the world. The season is set to get underway in Mexico City on January 13th.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eline follows a variety of motorsports from Formula E to IMSA to Nascar to WEC. They hope to study Mechanical Engineering to work in motorsports one day.
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