This week sees the start of the fifth FIA Formula E season, which in the category’s short history, is going to be a big year with a new car, an increased manufacturer presence, new drivers and new races.
The new Gen2 car
This season introduces the Gen2 car (pictured above) which will see the end of the mid-race car swaps with the aim of allowing ePrix to be longer and for the cars to go faster as well.
With mid-race car swaps no longer taking place, the series has introduced a new power mode feature during races, similar to Formula 1 drivers being able to access an increased engine mode during a race to either aid defending or attacking, Formula E will introduce a similar system whereby drivers will pass through a designated activation zone marked out on the circuit to allow them an extra 25kW of power. The halo on the new Gen2 car will illuminate to indicate drivers racing in the increased power mode. The duration or number of uses of the increased power mode will be determined by the FIA, no later than one hour before the start of the race.
This is to ensure that teams aren’t able to simulate when is the optimum time to use the attack mode, thereby ensuring drivers and teams use the mode at different times during a race, rather than using the attack mode all on the same lap.
Another change ahead of the new season is the number of drivers who will be able to win a fanboost activation. The series originally gave the three drivers to get the most votes the fanboost activation, however for the new season, this has been increased to five drivers.
There are several team changes for season five with Renault handing their entry over to Nissan, BMW become a full works team within the sport and HWA enter, which will eventually pave the way for the Mercedes work effort to be introduced in season six.Embed from Getty Images
Like any other racing category, there are plenty of driver changes from season to season and the fifth season of Formula E is no different. Amongst drivers changing teams and some former Formula E drivers returning to the series, there will be a few notable drivers making their debut in season five.
Ex-Formula 1 drivers, Felipe Massa and Stoffel Vandoorne enter the sport competing for Venturi and HWA respectively. Another ex-Formula 1 driver who will make his debut in the series will be German, Pascal Wehrlein, who will compete with Mahindra Racing, however he will not make his debut until at least the second race of the season in Morocco in January 2019 due to having to see out his contract with previous employer, Mercedes, who he has been racing for in DTM.Embed from Getty Images
With BMW becoming a full Formula E manufacturer it means that their works driver, Alexander Sims will make his debut. This is a similar situation with Gary Paffett, who having competed in DTM previously with Mercedes as well as Mercedes affiliated HWA, will make his debut in Formula E with HWA.
The final rookie in Formula E is German racing driver, Maximilian Gunther, who will make his debut with the Geox Dragon team, having recently competed in the FIA Formula 2 championship.
As with any season there are also changes in the calendar with a new race in Sanya, China as well as a new ePrix in Saudi Arabia which will open season five.
Other changes to the calendar include the return of the Monaco ePrix and a change of venue for the ePrix in Switzerland which took place in Zurich in 2017/2018 but has moved to Bern for 2018/2019.
Season five will also see an end to races having a set number of laps which will make way for an endurance style time limited race of 45 minutes, plus one lap.
2018/2019 is set to also be the longest in Formula E’s history with a total of thirteen ePrix taking place, albeit by one ePrix as the 16/17 and 17/18 seasons had twelve races each.Embed from Getty Images
With big changes in terms of a new car, an altered race format, increased manufacturer involvement and some new drivers, it will be another interesting year in Formula E.
The previous four Formula E champions will all be competing in season five, which leads to a big question for 2018/2019 of whether a fifth season will see a fifth different champion crowned or whether Nelson Piquet Jr, Sebastien Buemi, Lucas di Grassi or Jean-Eric Vergne will become the first two time Formula E champion by the end of the season.