Formula E opens in Saudi Arabia as world championship

After six seasons from 2014-2015, Formula E, which until then had been seen as a simple championship, will crown its first world champions in this seventh campaign at the end of this year, although it starts a little later than planned with two ePrix races this Friday and Saturday in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.

The all-electric single-seater championship should have resumed in Santiago, Chile in mid-January, but the Covid-19 pandemic caused the event to be postponed. Therefore, the first two night races in the short history of the discipline will be held around the capital, Ryad.

This 2021 Formula-E reaches the highest level of the competitions recognized by the International Automobile Federation (FIA), joining Formula 1, WRC (rally), WEC (endurance) and WRX (rallycross).

Due to sanitary restrictions, the category composes its calendar on the fly. “The definition of Formula E is to race in the heart of cities and, inevitably, given the current situation, that adds complexity,” its sports director, Frédéric Espinos, told AFP.

At the moment, eight rounds are scheduled: Diriyah on Friday and Saturday, Rome on April 10, Valencia (Spain) on April 24 for the first ePrix on a permanent circuit, Monaco on May 8, Marrakech on May 22 and Santiago on June 5 and 6.

The rest will be announced in early spring, with “thirteen or fourteen races the target,” according to Espinos. Formula E is expected to continue westward, from America to Asia.

The 2019-2020 season, already disturbed by the pandemic, saw DS Techeetah be crowned for the third time in a row in the drivers category (first with the French Jean-Eric Vergne twice and then with the Portuguese António Felix da Costa) and for the second time in a row in the constructors category.

“I often say that to win, you just have to be there at the right time with the right people and I think once again we have everything in hand: the right drivers, the right people in the team, the right cars, in a great championship ”, says Xavier Mestelan Pinon, who is in his last races at the helm of DS.

As to Da Costa, faces the year 2021 with a “slightly different” pressure after winning his first crown. I am no longer the hunter, but the hunted, ”he says. But it doesn’t matter, I try to forget it when I put the helmet on. I’m flying, having fun, and it all starts there. “

He does dream of the double and the idea of ​​becoming the first world champion in the category is an additional motivation: “Maybe because we are talking about it, but, under my helmet, I don’t think I need to win more because it is a world championship. . It will only be a slightly better reward for whoever gets it ”.

DS Techeetah It remains logically one of the favorites, with its traditional rivals Nissan e.dams or Virgin Racing, but also Mercedes and Porsche, who arrived in 2019-2020 and who will want to transform the test for this second participation.

The Silver Arrows are coming off a convincing first year, which ended with a first win and a double in the final race of the season, third in the constructors ‘standings and second in the drivers’ standings for the Belgian. Stoffel vandoorne.

Porsche, meanwhile, has incorporated a new driver, the German Pascal Wehrlein, together with his compatriot André Lotterer. And the british Sam bird went from Virgin Racing to Jaguar.

THE GRILL 2021:

DS Techeetah *: Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) – Antonio Félix da Costa (POR) **

Nissan e.dams: Sébastien Buemi (SUI) – Oliver Rowland (GBR)

Mercedes-Benz EQ: Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) – Nyck de Vries (NED)

Envision Virgin Racing: Nick Cassidy (NZL) *** – Robin Frijns (NED)

BMW i Andretti Motorsport: Maximilian Günther (GER) – Jake Dennis (GBR) ***

Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler: Lucas di Grassi (BRA) – René Rast (GER)

Jaguar Racing: Mitch Evans (NZL) – Sam Bird (GBR)

Tag Heuer Porsche: André Lotterer (GER) – Pascal Wehrlein (GER)

Mahindra Racing: Alexander Lynn (GBR) – Alexander Sims (GBR)

ROKiT Venturi Racing: Edoardo Mortara (SUI) – Norman Nato (FRA) ***

Dragon / Penske Autosport: Sérgio Sette Câmara (BRA) – Nico Müller (SUI)

NIO 333: Oliver Turvey (GBR) – Tom Blomqvist (GBR)

* champion builders

** drivers champion

*** rookies