Ahead of the season-opener in Diriyah, the Inside Electric team have put together their predictions for Formula E Season 6.
Rob, Katy, Peter and Hazel will be giving their best insights from years spent in the paddock – and our photographer, Rebecca, will be answering with photos; pictures speak a thousand words, especially when it comes to catching the action.
We don’t all agree with each other, so check back in July to see who was right…
One thing to watch for this season
Rebecca: With Seoul, Jakarta and (a new location in) London we’ll have three completely new tracks on the calendar. Three races where all drivers and teams start from zero, so it’ll be about who can adapt to the new tracks best. We may see some surprises in the order here.
Katy: Even more unpredictability. Last season Formula E crowned nine different winners across 13 rounds of the all-electric championship and for season six, I think we will see that same level of competition. It’s no secret that Formula E is home to an astonishing amount of talented racing drivers, and with the calibre of manufacturers jumping to another level this year with the introduction of Porsche and Mercedes, I think you can expect to see almost everyone challenging for wins or podiums this year.
Rob: The Brits could play a huge role at the front of the grid this season. Oliver Turvey aside (sadly I don’t think he’ll have the machinery to fight this season) there could be an impressive collection of silverware amassed between the likes of Virgin’s Sam Bird, BMW’s Alexander Sims, and Nissan’s Oliver Rowland. Bird has been a winner every season so far, and you can bet he’ll make that six from six with Virgin continuing their Audi partnership from season five.
The other two, Sims and Rowland, should both have strong opportunities to secure their first FE race wins this season. BMW returnee Sims is an intelligent driver and learned a lot last season, while Rowland should have added a little extra race craft required to convert that raw speed we saw in the Nissan into at least one top step finish this time around. Who’d bet against one of them doing it on home soil too?
Peter: Qualifying. The starting grid is now up to 24 cars, the most Formula E has seen. Overtaking is always a gamble on the tight and narrow circuits Formula E race at, so drivers who qualify consistently at or near the front of the grid can mitigate that risk and fare best at victory, not just individual races but for the whole championship. Group qualifying where the groups are determined based on championship standings, will make this especially tricky.
Hazel: Battery stress. The new McLaren units were given a fairly easy in last year, with races heavily disrupted by red flags meaning energy limits weren’t really being pushed except in extreme cases like Santiago’s heat. But it was an unusually cold season by Formula E’s standards and regulations have changed to put maximising regen a key strategy again. Most powertrains will be operating at fairly similar efficiency in output but the teams that can manage regen well enough to have extra energy left, to maximise Attack Mode, will have a big enough bonus for it to be worth finding out where the limits really are.
Most promising new driver
Rebecca: Difficult to say but I think my choice is Nyck de Vries. He is an experienced single-seater driver and also already has some Formula E milage under his belt. It will be exciting to see what he’ll be capable of in this rookie season.
Katy: Nico Müller could surprise a lot of people. He has a lot of experience in the Formula E simulator from his time with Audi in their test/reserve driver role and challenged Rene Rast for the DTM drivers’ title in 2019. However, I think most eyes will be on newly-crowned F2 Champion Nyck de Vries. He joins Formula E at Mercedes and at just 24, already has a very impressive racing resume, and more importantly great results, to his name.
Rob: He may not be amongst the youngest rookies on the grid, but don’t bet against Brendon Hartley securing a few eye-catching results during his maiden FE season. He’s a super quick driver who had a raw deal in F1 but his record in WEC speaks for itself, and with the opportunity to grab a Porsche seat in the future, Hartley will be extremely motivated to put himself in the shop window.
Peter: Nyck de Vries is my pick for one to watch. He has an excellent pedigree having started out in the McLaren young driver programme and was crowned Formula 2 champion this year. De Vries also had a brief role as a reserve driver with Audi Formula E and has tested with them before joining Mercedes EQ Formula E. The young Dutchman also found success recently winning in LMP2 prototypes in the World Endurance Championship, showcasing once again his adaptability in different series which will serve him well in his new challenge.
Hazel: I think Brendon Hartley’s due a break. We know he’s a good driver, we know he can do the car management that’s essential in Formula E and that he’s thirsty to prove himself in single seaters again. Dragon isn’t a frontrunner team but Maxi Guenther did the job there last year enough to get a potential race-winner seat this season, so it’s more than worth a roll of the dice.
The team you shouldn’t underestimate
Rebecca: Definitely Porsche. Even though they are newbies on the grid, they come in with the clear aim to succeed in Formula E. They have a promising driver line-up in the form of Andre Lotterer and Neel Jani who’ll know what to expect this season with both having prior Formula E experience.
Katy: Mahindra. With all these ‘bigger’ manufacturers entering the championship year on year, it can sometimes be quite easy to forget about teams like Mahindra. They’ve been racing in Formula E since the beginning and now with many wins to their name, including an impressive victory from Jérôme d’Ambrosio in Marrakesh last year, I think season six could bring with it some good results. Their pairing of d’Ambrosio and Pascal Wehrlein, the same as last season, is one of the strongest on the grid too.
Rob: DS Techeetah. There’s an enormous amount of talent, ability and experience on the FE grid this year, and the resource that German giants Porsche and Mercedes bring mean whoever comes out on top this season will have done an incredible job. As Mark Preston told me in Valencia, he proved a lot of people wrong when Techeetah beat the so-called “bigger teams” and secured both titles last season, but this is a seriously well-oiled team now that is brimming with confidence. They’ll start the season as the team to beat so I wouldn’t bet against them continuing their title-winning streak in season six.
Peter: Porsche. It may sound absurd given they have won so much in other championships, but going into a new series headfirst, at a time when the competition has never been more intense, is always a gamble. The German marque have made a massive investment into Formula E and see it a cornerstone of their motorsports strategy going forward, and they have the means, discipline and wherewithal to see the project succeed.
Hazel: Mahindra have been mostly-there every season since Felix Rosenqvist got their first win in Berlin. They might not have the budgets of some of the European manufacturers but they’ve got the experience and two drivers who’ve proven themselves fast, as well as total determination to convert promise into serious threat.
The ones with the most to lose this season
Rebecca: Audi. They have always been at the top of the championship and in the fight for the title. With the new big names like Mercedes and Porsche coming in, they will have to show that they are experienced and consistent enough to stay at the top of the manufacturer list in Formula E.
Katy: Jaguar came into Formula E as a ‘late entry’ of sorts – they made their debut in season three. Over time they have improved and now have a pole position, several podiums and a win to their name. However, there have been several opportunities missed by the team to secure big points. Jaguar soon need to find that winning combination that will allow both of their drivers to be constantly battling at the front which is where they should belong.
Rob: I’ve thought a lot about this and I have a feeling it’s Jaguar. They’ve shown continued improvement each season so far and finally reached the summit last year with their long awaited first win in Rome. In Mitch Evans, they possess one of the hottest talents on the grid and a potential future champion, but they’ve struggled for stability and consistency in the second seat with Adam Carroll, Nelson Piquet Jr, and Alex Lynn all struggling to match Evans on a consistent basis.
The signing of James Calado is a risk this season, and if it doesn’t work out, it will only increase the pressure on Evans to carry the team forward. One win won’t be enough this time, and anything less must be considered failure for a manufacturer team four seasons in.
Peter: Getting to the top is one thing. Staying at the top is quite another. It stands to reason then that DS Techeetah and their star championship winning driver Jean-Eric Vergne have the most to lose, with a deep and experienced field of competitors eager to take their place. That said, if they prevail and once again rise victorious in both the drivers’ and teams’ championships, it will solidify them as one of the strongest and most accomplished teams in Formula E history.
Hazel: JEV has a target on his back – two titles, with a team he part-owns, including the double last season. He stands at the top of Formula E achievements, so he’s the one with the most people hunting him. But he’s at no risk of losing either his place or his reputation in the series if it isn’t title #3 this year.
What you can expect over the COURSE OF THE season
Rebecca: Another action-packed season with close racing where consistency will be the key to success.
Katy: Aside from constant confusion over liveries, this season you can expect much more of the same in terms of on-track action and close competition. Attack mode should throw up some entertainment at the right track this season and we are returning to some really special circuits like Rome and Paris which always produce some excellent racing.
Rob: Madness. Heartbreak. Jubilation. Probably a mix of all three. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, FE has a habit of springing surprises. Other than great racing, I actually don’t know what to expect and I’m quite happy to wait and find out!
Peter: Close racing. The second generation Formula E car has proven to be quite robust and reliable even after repeated heavy contact during races, particularly side by side contact (di Grassi and Piquet going sidepod to sidepod in Diriyah last year anyone?) and drivers have taken notice.
The FIA have since enforced more stringent driving standards to deter drivers ramming their way through traffic like bumper cars, and those penalties could prove costly down the road when the championship is determined by the slimmest of margins.
Hazel: A little instability. There will be calendar changes, there have been a few already – Formula E operates in a world that’s changing rapidly and unpredictably and the series is set up to manage that. So it won’t be a crisis but by its very nature Formula E has to take chances and adapt to situations other series can’t and there’s more of that ahead, under the scrutiny of new constructors.
What you can’t predict this year
Rebecca: It’s going to be interesting to see where and in which order the new manufacturer teams Porsche and Mercedes will finish the new season compared to the experienced teams on the grid.
Katy: Who will win the championship, or even the first race of the season for that matter. JEV seems to be in the form of his life at the moment, but as you know with Formula E not even Mystic Meg could predict what the future brings.
Oh, and the weather, nobody can predict that but I would love more wet races please!
Rob: I guess the one thing that’s hard to predict is where the German giants will shake out. You’d expect Audi and BMW to be at the sharp end fairly regularly, but Mercedes and Porsche are a bit of an unknown. It’s technically not the Mercedes team’s first season, as Vandoorne and many of the engineers and mechanics were part of the Mercedes-affiliated HWA squad last year.
They should improve, but reputation and resource is no guarantee of success in this game. Porsche are much more of an unknown, and if I had to put my money on it, I think they’ll finish in the bottom third of the teams’ championship. You read it here first!
Peter: How the whole championship will pan out. Unpredictability is what makes Formula E so captivating and this upcoming season should be no exception. Season five saw nine different winners in 13 rounds and eight different race winners in the first eight races. The era of the runaway championship is over. The battle for the drivers and teams championships will be tighter than ever.
Hazel: Where Mercedes and Porsche will shake out. If you asked anyone from any team in Valencia there were theories everywhere, about everyone and how much sandbagging or down-tuning was going on. In reality, Formula E has never been about who can go sheer fastest in any session, it’s who can manage to hold it together over the course of a season so while Porsche and Mercedes shouldn’t get written off as noobs, anyone who tells you they know what the order is already is lying.Become a Patron! No tags for this post.