The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship returns this Friday and Saturday with the opening two rounds of Season 8 racing under the lights on one of the most technically challenging tracks of the series through the streets of Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. The doubleheader for the series’ 11 teams and 22 drivers launches a biggest-ever 16-race calendar for the all-electric open-wheel series
Mercedes-EQ hunting the double
Nyck de Vries and Mercedes-EQ are looking to defend their drivers’ and teams’ world championships. While their closest rivals from last season field unchanged line-ups, this season sees three new drivers take a seat in the most competitive Formula E grid to date, including new addition and ex-Formula 1 racer, Antonio Giovinazzi.
Mitch Evans and Sam Bird are back with Jaguar TCS Racing while DS Techeetah again hast two-time champion Jean-Eric Vergne with Season 6 title winner Antonio Felix da Costa.
Envision Racing will seek to build on a positive Season 7, when Robin Frijns impressed on the way to fifth in the standings and Nick Cassidy is no longer just the head-turning rookie but a serious contender. After a storming rookie campaign, Avalanche Andretti’s Jake Dennis is back and is joined by the only American driver on the grid, 2019 Indy Lights champ Oliver Askew.
ROKiT Venturi Racing head into a new campaign full of optimism with last year’s runner-up Edoardo Mortara joined by 2016/17 champion Lucas di Grassi at the Monaco-based team this season. TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team’s all-German line-up remains where Pascal Wehrlein and Andre Lotterer go again in search of Porsche’s first race win in all-electric motorsport as Oliver Rowland joins countryman Alexander Sims at Mahindra Racing.
Maximilian Guenther makes the switch to Nissan e.dams, alongside 2015/16 champion Sebastien Buemi, while Dragon Penske Autosport snapped up Antonio Giovinazzi fresh from Formula 1, with the Italian joining Sergio Sette Camara. At NIO 333, Oliver Turvey is joined by multiple Macau Grand Prix winner and current FIA Formula 2 Championship front-runner Dan Ticktum.
For Season 8, Formula E races can now have additional race time of up to 10 minutes added when incidents cause safety car or full course yellow neutralizations during the 45-minute plus one lap race.
Formula E’s Gen2 cars will be the quickest they’ve ever been this season, too. Drivers will be able to tap into 220kW of power in Season 8, an increase from 200kW in Season 7, during races. Power during Attack Mode will also increase to 250kW from 235kW.
Formula E’s new qualifying format featuring Groups and knockout Duels also will debut in Diriyah, providing a completely new challenge for drivers and teams to tackle.
The fast and flowing 2.49km/1.55-mile Riyadh street circuit, flanking the At-Turaif UNESCO World Heritage Site, will once again be lit up by the latest low-power LED technology. These reduce energy consumption by up to 50 percent compared to non-LED units, and are powered by sustainably-sourced biofuel generators.
Last time out, eventual champion de Vries laid down the ultimate marker in the opener with a clean sweep of the best times in Free Practice 1 and 2, Julius Baer Pole Position plus the Round 1 win — the Dutchman’s first in Formula E. Sam Bird (Jaguar TCS Racing) took the second race on debut for Jaguar.
Both races will air live in the USA on CBS Sports Network