Formula E. Nearly eight years in, it’s still a weird car racing championship. Partly because electric open-wheel racing shouldn’t have really worked out (and it barely did in the early seasons), but also because it’s already looking at the end of its second era despite its young age. Compared to septuagenarian Formula One, it’s not so much a defiant teenager but an impressionable toddler, yet it’s staring at the third version of itself faster than I change hair color. For these and other reasons, it can be tough to follow Formula E.
But fear not, here’s everything you should know about the electric championship’s upcoming season.
Season 8 kicks off Jan. 28 in Saudi Arabia with a doubleheader night race. That’s one of the surprisingly few things that are familiar from last season, given this was meant to be a two-year stability period where not a lot changed in order to prepare for the arrival of the third-generation, “Gen3” car and new manufacturers like Maserati.
Formula E is introducing a new (and admittedly confusing) qualifying format for 2022. It’s a head-to-head, knockout-style tournament for the top eight positions. You can read the full breakdown I wrote here for all the details, but be ready for it to definitely throw a few curveballs in the first races.
FE quali is tricky to nail especially with the pole-sitter being compelled by the new format involving three more hot laps at higher power capacity than all, but that can also involve all kinds of shenanigans with tire degradation. FE isn’t changing the way it allocates those over a doubleheader, for three practice sessions, two qualifying, and both races you only get six of the all-weather Michelin tires, so making them last will be especially important.
When and Where?
Formula E will run a 16-race season in 2022, starting in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, and finishing in Seoul, South Korea. Some of the calendar has already been forced to adapt, after races in China and South Africa were postponed to 2023 and although there are fewer double-header races than in 2021, it’s still a strong quality of the calendar.
The extremely cool Monaco race, probably the best of the 2021 season now that Formula E is using the full Grand Prix circuit, is back on the calendar after having been every other year previously.
- Diriyah Eprix Round 1 – 28th January (Saudi Arabia)
- Diriyah Eprix Round 2 – 29th January (Saudi Arabia)
- Mexico City Eprix Round 3 – 12th February (Mexico)
- Rome Eprix Round 4 – 9th April (Italy)
- Rome Eprix Round 5 – 10th April (Italy)
- Monaco Eprix Round 6 – 30th April (Monaco)
- Berlin Eprix Round 7 – 14th May (Germany)
- Berlin Eprix Round 8 – 15th May (Germany)
- Vancouver Eprix Round 9 – 2nd July (Canada)
- New York Eprix Round 10 – 16th July (U.S.)
- New York Eprix Round 11 – 17th July (U.S.)
- London Eprix Round 12 – 30th July (U.K.)
- London Eprix Round 13 – 31st July (U.K.)
- Seoul Eprix Round 14 – 13th August (Korea)
- Seoul Eprix Round 15 – 14th August (Korea)
Teams and Drivers
Two manufacturers left Formula E last year: Audi and BMW. That meant the longstanding Audi ABT-Schaeffler alliance disappeared entirely after it wasn’t able to secure funding to continue as privateers, and the Andretti team, BMW’s former partner, is now running without an OEM backing it.
Mercedes-Benz took both world titles last year, before promptly announcing it was also leaving. There’s a chance the team will go on into Gen3 as a privateer entry but the three German manufacturers ditching the series means that Venturi, Envision, and Andretti are all going to be short of a powertrain supplier by 2023. Expect negotiations to get competitive over that, since all three squads are race winners and Envision has beaten the Audi factory team with its own equipment before.
For 2022 no one has new powertrains, at least in terms of physical components. An agreement was reached during the 2020 lockdown that teams would only develop one new powertrain over the final two seasons of Gen2 (the current Formula E chassis) and every team took the opportunity to update theirs in 2021, so hardware will stay the same this year. This was done mostly to save on costs following the hardest bit of the coronavirus pandemic.
Formula E allows teams to develop software throughout the season, though (with some homologation restrictions) and that could massively shake up the order. Dominant multiple-time champion DS Techeetah was a bit nowhere last season, after its powertrain was introduced mid-year and the team didn’t seem to quite get to grips with it in time to make the most of the upgrade. Meanwhile, Jaguar will be raring to get back to the track after it narrowly lost the championship to Mercedes in 2021.
There’s a couple of rookie drivers to enter the series. Former Alfa Romeo F1 driver Antonio Giovinazzi has signed for Jay Penske’s Dragon squad, and ex-McLaren IndyCar racer Oliver Askew is joining the Andretti team. The Andretti seat is a good one, with proven race-winning form, while Dragon has never been an easy team to work with in terms of strategy.
Slightly controversial former Williams F1 junior driver Dan Ticktum is also joining NIO 333. The team was able to recover a big chunk of form last season but is still on a long road to recovery after taking the first-ever Formula E drivers’ title with Nelson Piquet Jr. in 2015. Ticktum has development experience that might help the team move forward, but is likely set for a frustrating season of back marking, as the squad slid down the order last year from a relatively strong start.
One of the biggest changes this year will be that Lucas di Grassi, who’d driven every single Formula E round for ABT and Audi, has been forced to move teams and is now stacking up against the highly-rated (and last year’s second place) Edoardo Mortara at Venturi. Di Grassi’s a Formula E powerhouse, with some cunning tactical awareness and one of the series’ biggest characters, while Venturi CEO Susie Wolff absolutely means business in taking titles for the team this year.
- Mercedes: Nyck de Vries (2021 champion) and Stoffel Vandoorne
- Jaguar: Sam Bird and Mitch Evans
- DS Techeetah: Jean-Éric Vergne and Antonio Felix da Costa
- Envision: Robin Frijns and Nick Cassidy
- Andretti: Jake Dennis and Oliver Askew
- Venturi: Lucas di Grassi and Edoardo Mortara
- Porsche: Pascal Wehrlein and André Lotterer
- Mahindra: Oliver Rowland and Alexander Sims
- Nissan e.Dams: Sebastien Buemi and Max Günther
- Dragon-Penske: Antonio Giovinazzi and Sergio Sette-Camara
- NIO 333: Oliver Turvey and Dan Ticktum
One final change is that Porsche will now be supplying the series’ safety car—rather than BMW’s “danger car,” as the former open-top i8 made for spectacular onboards but possibly questionable safety. The electric racers will now run behind a Porsche Taycan under caution. Allegedly (from Porsche’s spiel), the livery reflects the colors of all 11 Formula E teams. But let’s be real, that’s the Rothmans livery in the back and the Martini up front.
As the series matures into a new season, it’s safe to say that things will be more unpredictable and exciting than ever. Fingers crossed for an amazing season.
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