Find out everything you need to know about the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship opening weekend in Diriyah.
Formula E returns this weekend with the opening rounds of Season 8, taking place in the heart of Saudi Arabia, Diriyah.
This year, 11 teams and 22 drivers will go head-to-head across 16 rounds of racing, spanning ten countries across three different continents.
Whilst Edo Mortara of ROKiT Venturi Racing proved fastest in the pre-season testing in Valencia, the grid is filled with new faces and new team members, so fans can expect another fiercely competitive season of racing.
What to expect from Saudi?
I love racing in Saudi – the track is amazing,” said Antonio Felix da Costa of DS Techeetah. “I was the first winner there in Season 5 and I’ve got great memories. We go well every time we go there.
“With it being a night race, your practice and qualifying happen during the day and then you race at night. Temperatures change, along with the track surface with the sand getting brushed away.
“Your perceptions also change with the shadows changing. It takes a little bit of adaptation and training to the eye but I love the different variables and it definitely creates a better show for the fans. It’s very cool to race there, and great to watch – especially at night.”
With Saudi acting as the usual curtain raiser for the Formula E campaign, the majority of the drivers will be familiar with the circuit, and it remains a firm favourite of both fans and drivers.
With 21-corners stretched out across a 2.49km circuit, the layout has the perfect bend of tight corners, ultra-fast straights and a collection of sweeping bends up to turn 14.
Racing at night will also present its challenges, and the street-circuit in Saudi usually throws up drama, with the Formula E Safety Car making an appearance every single time so far.
Pascal Wehrlein of Porsche is another driver who can’t wait to get going: “It’s a great track and I enjoy it a lot. It’s a high-speed circuit, not too small and not too big. It has every type of corner, uphill, downhill, blind corners, slow ones and lots of overtaking opportunities.
“It showed last year what a spectacle it can be and the night races with the circuit and the cars lit up on the Halo just made it look so cool.”
Fresh faces for Season 8
It’s been all change on the grid ahead of the new season, with some new faces and a few team swaps shaking up the driver lineup.
Alongside Jake Dennis for the rebranded Avalanche Andretti Formula E team is Oliver Askew, who reunites with the manufacturer following his time in the Indy Lights championship in 2019. Antonio Giovinazzi will partner Sergio Sette Camara for Dragon Penske Autosport this year, and another new face for the sport is Dan Ticktum, who will race for NIO 333 Racing alongside Oliver Turvey.
Oliver Rowland has made the switch from Nissan e.dams to Mahinda Racing to partner Alexander Simms, with Max Guenther taking Rowland’s place at Nissan, alongside Sebastien Buemi.
Following Audi’s departure from Formula E at the end of last season, fan-favourite and former Formula E Champion Lucas Di Grassi will be turning out for ROKiT Venturi Racing this year, forming a strong lineup with Edoardo Mortara.
What have the drivers had to say?
Jake Dennis, Avalanche Andretti Motorsport: “It was obviously a great season. We broke records with the two wins, the pole position and with the most laps led last season as well. Overall, it was pretty cool to make a statement that I’m here. Now that I’m not a rookie, I’m coming into this season ready to try and win this thing.”
Antonio Felix da Costa, DS Techeetah: “The team is running smoothly, and everyone’s super hungry to come back swinging. This is a group of people that always works with ambition. We’re not here to take part, we’re here to win. We’re up against a lot of things, so it’s going to require our best efforts to deliver.”
Lucas di Grassi, ROKiT Venturi Racing: “Anyone who knows me know how competitive I am – driving for a team that I know can fight at the front and really challenge for the championship is essential for me. ROKiT Venturi Racing was simply the best choice and I’m really happy to be part of the team.”
After the first weekend in Saudi Arabia, the teams will head off to Mexico City in February, the sixth time the Championship has taken over the Mexican capital. The series then makes its return to China for Round 5, before the first European race of the season in Rome. Round 6 is the much- anticipated Monaco E-Prix, which threw up lots of drama last time out in Season 7, and fans will also be hoping for a repeat of the final weekend of last season when the teams return to Berlin for Round 8.
Formula E will also hit the streets of Jakarta for the first time ever in June for Round 9, with Indonesia welcoming FIA-sanctioned motorsports back into the country for the first time since 2006. The series then travels to North America for Round 10 in Vancouver and a double header in New York. The penultimate weekend of the season will take place in London once again, before the series comes to a close in Seoul in August.