Formula E: Here's what to look out for in the new season

rome e-prix
2019-20 Formula E Championship
Dates: 22 November 2019 - 26 July 2020
Coverage: All 14 races will be available live and free-to-air on BBC online platforms, with the Marrakesh E-Prix on 29 February and the Rome E-Prix on 4 April live on network channels.
Saudi E-Prix: Friday 22 November: Race one qualifying 07:45 GMT, race coverage 11:00. Saturday 23 Nov: Race two qualifying 07:45 GMT, race two coverage 11:00

Motorsport's cleanest racing series begins its sixth season this weekend as Formula E returns to action in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia for the opening two races.

The new season features 14 races in 12 cities on four continents spread over nine months. All the races will be available live and free-to-air on BBC online platforms.

France's Jean-Eric Vergne has won the past two editions of the championship but faces a fresh challenge with German manufacturing giants Mercedes and Porsche joining a series that last year produced nine different winners from 13 races.

"The opportunity of winning a third successive title makes that the objective of the team - but we'll be concentrating on the first race and then taking every race as it comes after that," the DS Techeetah driver said.

"It gives me pleasure to represent France and get the Tricolor flag on to the podium, and especially for a constructor like DS that is up against the two new constructors this season in Mercedes and Porsche."

jean eric vergne
Champion Jean-Eric Vergne is a double title winner

What's different about Formula E?

Formula E was launched back in 2014 with sustainability in mind, and organisers saying the aim was to "reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible".

To achieve this, cars are powered by a battery that is made with 100% renewable fuel, and tyres that, as well as lasting an entire race, can also be recycled afterwards. Spectators are encouraged to use public transport to get to events, with no public car parking available.

One drawback in the past was the sight of drivers having to swap cars mid-race because the battery could not last the distance, but the Gen 2 cars - introduced last year - are fitted with a battery that lasts the entirety of a race.

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.

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Amazing finish as race leader's battery dies on line at E-prix

Fan Boost and Attack Mode

Another unique feature of Formula E is the audience interaction with spectators playing a key role in the action during 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.

A more recent feature is 'Attack Mode', which gives competitors a speed boost after they drive through an allocated area on the track. Designed to introduce extra unpredictability into the racing, the use of this mode by a driver can have an effect on deciding the race.

The resulting action has been unpredictable, especially last season, which saw several different winners from the field, many controversial on-track incidents and one race only decided a metre before the line.

New teams

Andre Lotterer's Porsche
Andre Lotterer will be looking for wins with the new Porsche team

Mercedes

Drivers: Stoffel Vandoorne, Nyck de Vries

Former McLaren F1 driver Vandoorne is embarking on his second Formula E season after securing one pole and one podium in his maiden campaign with HWA Racelab.

Dutch rookie De Vries moves into the series fresh from winning the 2019 Formula 2 Championship.

Porsche

Drivers: Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani

Porsche are better known for endurance racing but have made the move into the electric series. German-born driver Lotterer admits the team will need a "bit of time to adapt" but is nevertheless "going to Riyadh to get on the podium".

Jani, meanwhile, is a Porsche veteran having contested several Le Mans 24-hour races with the team, winning in 2016. The Swiss also contested two Formula E races in 2017-18.

The returning teams

DS Techeetah (Champions)

Drivers: Jean-Eric Vergne, Antonio Felix da Costa

Vergne became Formula E's first back-to-back champion and the 29-year-old has great experience. He raced 58 times in F1 for Toro Rosso and scored 51 points and has Formula E experience with Andretti and Virgin. Gained his first win for Techeetah in Montreal 2017

Affable former Red Bull young driver Da Costa never made it to F1, but found a home in Formula E in which he won a race last season for the BMW iAndretti team. This season he has his work cut out to match Vergne.

Audi (Last season 2nd - 203 pts)

Drivers: Daniel Abt, Lucas di Grassi

Abt had two podiums last year and finished 7th overall to give him a five-season total of 58 races 2 wins 10 podiums, having appeared in every Formula E race so far.

Di Grassi: A veteran at 35, and the winner of the first-ever Formula E race in Beijing in 2014, who has won 10 times and been on the podium 30 times.

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Championship leader Vergne crashes on final lap in New York

Envision Virgin (3rd - 191pts)

Drivers: Sam Bird, Robin Frijns

Bird has appeared in all 58 Formula E races and has been with Virgin from the start. The 32-year-old British racer enjoyed his best season in 2017-18 and has eight wins from his 58 starts.

Frijns won the last race of the season in New York and the Dutch driver is tipped as a real contender this season. The 28-year-old had interest from Sauber and Red Bull as a youngster and finished fourth overall last season.

Nissan E.Dams (4th - 190pts)

Drivers: Sebastien Buemi, Oliver Rowland

Buemi was the 2015-16 Formula E champion and his 10 wins are the most of any drivers in the electric format. The 31-year-old Swiss racer also raced in Formula 1 with Toro Rosso at the same time as Vergne and won the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hour Race.

British driver Rowland impressed in qualifying but was patchy in his 14 races last season despite reaching the podium twice. Expected to improve in his second season in the sport.

Andretti BMW (5th - 156pts)

Drivers: Max Guenther, Alexander Sims

Bavarian by birth, Guenther is now driving for the region's world-famous car manufacturer. The youngest driver on the grid at 22, he was also the fastest driver in pre-season testing in Valencia. He managed two Super Poles for Dragon FE last season.

Sims finished last season strongly, the 31-year-old Brit recording a fourth and second in the two races in New York.

Mahindra Racing (6th - 125pts)

Drivers: Jerome D'Ambrosio, Pascal Wehrlein

Belgium's former Renault and Lotus F1 driver D'Ambrosio has been in Formula E from the start and has three wins to his name.

Wehrlein will be competing in his second season in Formula E. The German is a former Sauber and Manor F1 driver.

Antonio Felix Da Costa
Antonio Felix Da Costa will partrner Jean-Eric Vergne at DS Techeetah this season

Panasonic Jaguar (7th - 116pts)

Drivers: Mitch Evans, James Calado

A 25-year-old New Zealander, Evans was mentored by former F1 driver Mark Webber as a youngster and won his first race in Rome last season. He also ended the season with second-place finishes in Bern and New York, so is expected to thrive this season.

Calado will be a rookie in Formula E this season. Like many electric drivers, the British racer comes from the endurance circuit and won the Le Mans 24 Hour race in a Ferrari this year.

Venturi (8th - 88pts)

Drivers: Felipe Massa, Edoardo Mortara

Massa has huge experience having raced 269 times in Formula 1 across 15 seasons. The veteran former Ferrari racer is 38-years-old.

Mortara won in Hong Kong last season - the 32-year-old Swiss is in his third season in Formula E.

Geox Dragon (10th - 23 pts)

Drivers: Brendon Hartley, Nico Mueller

Hartley has raced in many formats, including for Toro Rosso in Formula 1, but is a rookie in this format.

Another rookie at the age of 27, Swiss driver Mueller has shown himself to be extremely fast in testing over the past two years.

Nio 333 (11th - 7pts)

Drivers: Oliver Turvey, Qing Hua Ma

Turvey is a veteran of 47 Formula E races but the Brit still looking for his first win.

As China's top electric driver, Ma notched up nine starts for Techeetah and Aguri before becoming Nio's reserve driver and then advancing to the team proper.

Formula E Calendar 2019-20

RoundDateRace
122 NovDiriyah (Saudi Arabia)
223 NovDiriyah (Saudi Arabia)
318 JanSantiago (Chile)
415 FebMexico City (Mexico)
5Feb 29Marrakesh (Morocco)
6Mar 21Sanya (China)
7Apr 4Rome (Italy)
8Apr 18Paris (France)
9May 3Seoul (South Korea)
10Jun 6Jakarta (Indonesia)
11Jun 21Berlin (Germany)
12Jul 11New York (USA)
13Jul 25London (GB)
14Jul 26London (GB)

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