ABB FIA Formula E: 5 reasons to tune into the 2019-2020 season



Formula E

November 22, 2019 10:25 AM

ABB FIA Formula E: 5 reasons to tune into the 2019-2020 season

Newcomers Porsche, Mercedes-Benz highlight the sixth season of the all-electric, open-wheel series.

Sam Hall



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Motorsport Images-LAT

Jean-Eric Vergne is on the prowl for his third consecutive Formula E title.

ABB Formula E returns this weekend for the 2019-20 season—the sixth for the open-wheel, all-electric racing series—with the Saudi Arabia ePrix.
Former Formula 1 driver Jean-Eric Vergne is back and going for his third consecutive championship, while his Techeetah team hunts for a second teams’ title.
Here are five reasons to tune in for Season 6.
New Drivers
As has been the case in most Formula E seasons to date, the majority of the grid remains unchanged from year to year. Key players Vergne, Lucas di Grassi and Sebastian Buemi remain with Techeetah, Audi and Nissan, respectively, to front their outfits’ championship campaigns, but there are several movers and new faces on the grid.
The most exciting new face on the grid is the newly crowned F2 champion Nyck de Vries. The 24-year-old Dutchman was unable to secure an F1 drive for 2020 after having been dropped from the McLaren young driver program at the beginning of 2019.

Motorsport Images-LAT

F2 champion Nyck de Vries drives for the Mercedes-Benz factory team.

De Vries has found a new home in the new Mercedes=Benz factory Formula E team, replacing HWA Racelab, for 2019-20. De Vries will partner with former F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne.
Other new faces include Le Mans winners Neel Jani (Porsche) and Brendon Hartley (GEOX Dragon), DTM star Nico Mueller (GEOX Dragon), former GT World Endurance Championship champion James Calado (Jaguar) and the first Chinese driver to win an FIA World Championship event, Ma Qinghua (NIO).
New Teams/Manufacturers
In Season 5, BMW was the new big-name manufacturer on the grid. For Season 6, Mercedes and Porsche have joined their German counterparts. Mercedes gained experience in the championship in Season 5 through HWA Racelab, but the manufacturer that has dominated Formula 1 since 2014 is now flying solo.
With the pedigree of De Vries and Vandoorne behind the wheel, the Silver Arrows could become instant front-runners.

Motorsport Images-LAT

Porsche, above, joins Mercedes on the FE grid for 2019-20.

Unlike Mercedes, Porsche is coming in fresh. Jani and Andre Lotterer are known quantities to the manufacturer, having both raced for the marque in the World Endurance Championship, but Lotterer has also partnered Techeetah driver Vergne for the past two years and played a vital role in winning the Season 5 teams’ championship.
With Mercedes and Porsche producing their own powertrains, the number of different and innovative units on the grid has grown to 10. Only Envision Virgin Racing and ROKit Venturi Racing purchase powertrains from elsewhere.
Drivers to Watch
Sam Bird (Virgin Racing) has won races in every season but has yet to win a championship.
Lotterer and the Porsche team are a complete unknown when it comes to Formula E, but de Vries is one to watch. The reigning champion of Formula 2, de Vries was unable to secure a 2020 F1 seat, but he could be an instant championship contender in FE.

Motorsport Images-LAT

Lucas di Grassi hits the Attack Zone in Saudi Arabia during the 2019-20 season-opening race.

New Venues
The Formula E calendar is constantly changing, and this is no different heading into Season 6. New circuits in South Korea and Indonesia take the championship into yet more countries, while the championship makes a welcome return to the United Kingdom, albeit on a completely new London layout.
A doubleheader in Saudi Arabia opens the season on Nov. 22-23, with the London doubleheader rounding things out July 25-26. The United States again features a race in New York, although the event will now only consist of one race rather than two.
The Racing
Ultimately, the reason to watch any form of motorsport is to enjoy close, fast racing. While not racing at speeds akin to F1 or IndyCar, Formula E is not a slow sport by any means, and what it lacks in speed, it makes up for in entertainment.
Races are rarely decided in qualifying or on lap 1, and there is often more overtaking in just a single lap than in a year of F1.
Innovative solutions to increase the competitiveness such as FanBoost (fans vote online as to which driver in a particular race is allowed a power boost during a specific stage in the race) and Attack Mode (certain sections of the course where a driver can activate a special power boost) only increase the spectacle rather than devalue passing, a criticism often made of DRS in F1.

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