As Formula E becomes a world championship for the first time in season 7, we preview an unpredictable year in electric racing.
The 2021 Formula E season should have commenced on January 15th in Santiago (Chile) before moving on to Mexico in what promised to be an electrifying year in motorsport. However, the COVID pandemic had other plans.
Instead, Formula E, like the rest of the world, was once again forced into lockdown with the season opener indefinitely postponed. Rather than Santiago as originally scheduled, Saudi Arabia will play host to two consecutive night races around the streets of Diriyah, opening the season whilst making motorsport history.
In a recently announced rescheduled calendar, it was revealed that the championship would then head to Rome in April before arriving at the home of pre-season testing (Valencia), to race on a permanent circuit for the first time ever. In the quick succession of races to follow, fan favourites Monaco, Marrakesh and Santiago are all scheduled to return.
Further rounds are expected to be announced in the coming months with organisers targeting a 15 race championship for 2020/21. However, with nothing to be taken for granted, it will be crucial for drivers to extract the maximum out of every race and minimise race ending errors.
Pre-season testing stoked excitement for the start of the season as 22 cars were separated by only a second. Formula E rookies Nick Cassidy, Norman Nato and Jake Dennis all performed admirably in the wet conditions with DS Techeetah retaining their double championship winning season 6 performance.
The reigning champions retain their season 6 line-up with Antonio Felix Da Costa and Jean-Eric Vergne both eager to secure another title. However, if pre-season testing is any indication of the competition this year, it will not be easy for the Techeetah team.
Mercedes impressed last season with the performance of Stoffel Vandoorne shining through and securing the Belgian driver second place in the drivers championship. Both Mercedes and competitors Audi will hope to build upon their season six progress and challenge Techeetah all the way to the checkered flag.
Other favourites are Nissan E Dams whose strong showing at pre-season testing did not go unrecognised by their competitors. The teams solid line-up of Rowland and Buemi have a history of race domination when given the opportunity.
The dark horses of this year’s championship could be Jaguar with the UK based team making major strides to fix issues which in previous years saw their championship chances unwind. The addition of Sam Bird to Jaguar’s driver line-up alongside Mitch Evans could be the missing piece of the jigsaw with Bird (an experienced FE vetran), bringing a wealth of experience and race winning mentality.
Comfortably in last year’s midfield, both Envision Virgin Racing and BMW Andretti have a factor of unpredictability in 2021 with both teams hosting a rookie. Nick Cassidy and Jake Dennis are exciting prospects who could help to push their respective teams into the battle for the constructors championship.
Other teams within the championship enter the season with a point to prove. Porsche, Mahindra and NIO all enter season 7 recovering from a mostly disappointing 2020. At Porsche, both Andre Lotterer and Pascal Wehrlein enter the season eager to secure their first Formula E victories whilst NIO and Mahindra will be hoping to return to the top half of the championship.
Completing the grid for 2021 is Venturi and Dragon Penske Autosport. Venturi, a Monaco based outfit, has reasons to be hopeful in 2021 with a powerful Mercedes powertrain and the promotion of reserve driver Norman Nato to a permanent race seat. Nato, who boasts an impressive CV, will be one to watch this season as he enters contention. Whilst at Dragon, although the season is predicted to be difficult for the American team, in Formula E, anything can happen.
Despite the data, the statistics and the pre-season testing, if Formula E has taught us anything it is that nothing is for sure until the checkered flag falls.
Stay tuned to the Overtake Motorsport website and our social media pages for comprehensive coverage of the Formula E season, starting on February the 26th as the season goes green in Saudi Arabia.
Featured Image Credit: @FIAFormulaE Twitter