Formula E: China's Sanya E-Prix is the sixth race of exciting and dramatic season

By Michael EmonsBBC Sport
Formula E on the BBC
Watch the Sanya E-Prix from 06:30 GMT on Saturday, 23 March on the BBC Red Button, Connected TV, the BBC Sport website and BBC iPlayer.
Listen to BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra for live commentary of qualifying from 03:15 GMT and of the race from 06:45 GMT.

Only two points separate the top four drivers as a thrilling Formula E championship heads to Sanya, China for the sixth race of the 13-race season, with live coverage across the BBC.

Britain's Sam Bird has 54 points, one ahead of Belgium's Jerome d'Ambrosio, with Brazil's Lucas di Grassi and Switzerland's Edoardo Mortara on 52.

Bird could have had a bigger lead but was stripped of his race win in Hong Kong, receiving a five-second penalty which dropped him down to sixth, after he hit then-leader Andre Lotterer.

The incident left Lotterer with a puncture meaning he could only finish 14th as Mortara gained the first Formula E win for the Venturi Formula E team, who also have ex-Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa racing for them. Massa came fifth in Hong Kong, his best result since joining the all-electric series.

You can watch live coverage of the Sanya E-Prix on the BBC Red Button, Connected TV, the BBC Sport website and BBC iPlayer from 06:30 GMT on Saturday, 23 March, with a full replay of the race available on the BBC Red Button later on Saturday.

There will also be live commentary of qualifying on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 03:15 GMT on Saturday and then the race itself from 06:45 GMT.

From five races this season, there have been five different winners and Mortara hoped the team's victory in Hong Kong could be the start of a period of success for them.

He said: "We had quite some setbacks last year, now it's time to go in the right direction and it's pleasing everybody.

"I hope we will celebrate more days like that and we're back in the simulator to prepare for Sanya and hopefully the next race week will be good."

The first Formula E race took place in Beijing in September 2014 and this weekend's E-Prix is in Sanya, a coastal city on the southern end of China's Hainan Island, the southernmost point of the country.

The 2.236km track will see the 22 cars and drivers navigate their way through 11 turns, with the race lasting 45 minutes plus one lap.

Championship leader Bird said: "After the drama of the last race, we've had time to reflect and regroup and are now fully focused on the Sanya E-Prix.

"The track looks good and reminds me a little of the Punta del Este circuit [in Uruguay] with its beach location, so it will be interesting to see how dusty the surface becomes over the weekend.

"It's always great to be racing in new locations and we're excited to get out there."

Recap: How does Formula E work?

Antonio Felix da Costa leads Jean-Eric Vergne
There are 13 races in 12 cities in the 2018-19 Formula E season, which runs until 14 July

Compared with Formula 1, Formula E is considerably more friendly to the environment.

The sport was developed with sustainability in mind, with organisers saying the aim is to "reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible".

It does this by powering its cars with a battery that uses 100% renewable fuel, and tyres that - as well as lasting an entire race - can also be recycled afterwards. Meanwhile, spectators are encouraged to use public transport to get to events, with no public parking available.

One drawback with battery-powered cars is they have not had the capacity to last an entire race, resulting in the rather unusual (and somewhat gimmicky) sight of drivers having to swap cars mid-race.

That will no longer happen - this season's Gen2 car is fitted with a battery that will last from start to finish of races.

With the car manufacturing world looking to switch to developing almost exclusively electric cars within the next couple of decades, Formula E provides them with the ideal arena to test new technology at a competitive level.

Fan Boost and Attack Mode

Attack Mode? Fan Boost? Formula E explained

Spectators play a key role in the action during Formula E races.

'Fan Boost' has been a feature of the past few seasons, with viewers able to vote using an app to determine which driver gets some extra power during a race.

New this season is 'Attack Mode', which gives competitors a speed boost after they drive through an allocated area on the track.

How are the big names doing?

Felipe Massa
Felipe Massa is arguably Formula E's biggest driver signing yet

Former Ferrari and Williams driver Massa, runner-up in the Formula 1 world championship in 2008, has signed a three-year contract to race for Monaco-based Venturi.

After failing to get a point in the opening three races, Massa has moved up to 14th overall after collecting 14 points in the past two events.

Stoffel Vandoorne, Fernando Alonso's F1 team-mate at McLaren for the past two seasons, is racing for HWA Racelab and picked up his first three points of the season when he took pole position in Hong Kong, although a technical fault with 18 minutes left saw him fail to finish.

Mahindra Racing's Pascal Wehrlein, who had two seasons in F1, is ninth overall after also failing to finish last time out. He came second in Chile and led throughout the race in Mexico City, but ran out of battery power in the final straight and was overtaken by Di Grassi. Wehrlein was also handed a five-second penalty to drop him down to sixth.

Pascal Wehrlein
Pascal Wehrlein raced in Formula 1 in 2016 for Manor and 2017 for Sauber and came second in Chile

How they stand - after five races of 13

1. Sam Bird (GB)Envision Virgin Racing54
2. Jerome d'Ambrosio (Bel)Mahindra Racing53
3. Lucas di Grassi (Bra)Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler52
4. Edoardo Mortara (Sui)Venturi Formula E Team52
5. Antonio Felix da Costa (Por)BMW I Andretti Motorsport47
6. Robin Frijns (Ned)Envision Virgin Racing43
7. Daniel Abt (Ger)Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler34
8. Mitch Evans (NZ)Panasonic Jaguar Racing34
9. Pascal Wehrlein (Ger)Mahindra Racing30
10. Andre Lotterer (Ger)DS Techeetah Formula E Team29
11. Jean-Eric Vergne (Fra)DS Techeetah Formula E Team28
12. Alexander Sims (GB)BMW I Andretti Motorsport18
13. Sebastian Buemi (Sui)Nissan E.Dams15
14. Felipe Massa (Bra)Venturi Formula E team14
15. Oliver Rowland (GB)Nissan E.Dams6
16. Oliver Turvey (GB)NIO Formula E Team6
17. Gary Paffett (GB)HWA Racelab4
18. Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel)HWA Racelab3
19. Jose Maria Lopez (Arg)GEOX Dragon2
20. Nelson Piquet Jr (Bra)Panasonic Jaguar Racing1

Tom Dillman (Fra, NIO Formula E Team), Maximilian Gunther (Ger, GEOX Dragon), Felipe Nasr (Bra, GEOX Dragon) and Felix Rosenqvist (Swe, Mahindra Racing) have all failed to score a point.

Formula E social

Envision Virgin Racing
The Envision Virgin Racing team are 11 points clear at the top of the teams championship, with both of their drivers - Sam Bird and Robin Frijns - coming in the top three at two races each
Jean-Eric Vergne
Reigning Formula E world champion Jean-Eric Vergne has had a disappointing 2018-19 season and has not finished in the top 10 in the past three races
Tom Dillmann
France's Tom Dillmann is yet to score a point this season for the Nio Formula E Team but is confident of turning their season around

Results so far

15 December, 2018: Ad Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. 1. Antonio Felix da Costa, 2. Jean-Eric Vergne, 3. Jerome d'Ambrosio, 4. Mitch Evans, 5. Andre Lotterer, 6. Sebastian Buemi, 7. Oliver Rowland, 8. Daniel Abt, 9. Lucas di Grassi, 10. Nelson Piquet Jr.

12 January, 2019: Marrakesh, Morocco. 1. D'Ambrosio, 2. Robin Frijns, 3. Sam Bird, 4. Alexander Sims, 5. Vergne, 6. Lotterer, 7. Lucas Di Grassi, 8. Buemi, 9. Mitch Evans, 10. Abt.

26 January 2019: Santiago, Chile. 1. Bird, 2. Pascal Wehrlein, 3. Abt, 4. Edoardo Mortara, 5. Frijns, 6. Evans, 7. Sims, 8. Turvey, 9. Jose Maria Lopez, 10. D'Ambrosio.

16 February, 2019: Mexico City, Mexico. 1. Di Grassi, 2. Da Costa, 3. Mortara, 4. D'Ambrosio, 5. Lotterer, 6. Wehrlein, 7. Evans, 8. Felipe Massa, 9. Bird, 10. Abt.

10 March, 2019: Hong Kong. 1. Mortara, 2. Di Grassi, 3. Frijns, 4. Abt, 5. Massa, 6. Bird, 7. Evans, 8. Gary Paffett, 9. Oliver Turvey, 10. Da Costa.

Where and when are the rest of the races?

23 March 2019: Sanya, China

13 April 2019: Rome, Italy

27 April 2019: Paris, France

11 May 2019: Monaco

25 May 2019: Berlin, Germany

22 June 2019: Bern, Switzerland

13 and 14 July 2019: New York, USA