When the inaugural season of Formula E began in 2014-15, it marked the coming together of sustainability, mobility and high-speed entertainment in the world’s first all-electric street racing series. Since its inception, Formula E has successfully completed 84 races – or E-Prix – on the streets of some of the most iconic cities in the world, from New York and Monaco to London and Paris. India could soon be a part of this racing calendar by 2023.
Season 7, which was Formula E’s first event as an FIA World Championship, concluded in August last year. But Season 8 is right around the corner as 11 teams get set for the first two rounds of racing in the Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia on 28-29 January.
There’s plenty more to watch out for this season, which begins with an exciting night race double-header.
Biggest race calendar yet: Season 8 is set to be the most expansive season of Formula E so far. Three new locations have been added to the calendar, as part of a record 16-race season. From Diriyah, the electric racing action will head to Mexico City before reaching Rome for a double-header in Italy. Vancouver, Canada and Seoul, South Korea are the two new locations, along with Jakarta, Indonesia.
The calendar also includes races in Monaco, Berlin, New York and London, with the season set to conclude in Seoul in August.
Oliver Rowland returns to Mahindra racing: Mahindra Racing, the only Indian team in Formula E, has a new face in its team with the return of 29-year-old British driver Oliver Rowland, who replaces Alex Lynn. That means the Indian team will now rely on Rowland and Alexander Sims as the drivers’ pairing for season 8 and hope to improve on its ninth-place finish last season.
Rowland is regarded as one of the quickest drivers on the Formula E grid and brings in bags of experience, having previously raced with the Nissan e.Dams team. He has also been a development driver with the Renault (now Alpine) and Williams Formula 1 teams in the past. He had, in fact, started his Formula E career with Mahindra Racing in 2015, when he briefly stood in for German Nick Heidfeld at the Punta Del Este E-Prix.
Antonio Giovinazzi’s shift from F1 to Formula E: There will be plenty of eyes on Italian driver Antonio Giovinazzi as he makes the jump from Formula 1 to Formula E. Giovinazzi spent three years with Alfa Romeo before announcing in November 2021 that he would be making the switch to Formula E with Dragon Penske. The Italian made his F1 debut with Sauber in 2017, before moving to Alfa Romeo in 2019.
Giovinazzi is one of three new rookies joining the Formula E World Championship this season and it will be interesting to see how he copes with the complexities and challenges of an all-electric single-seater racing car. “Everything is completely different, but I was expecting this,” Giovinazzi had said in December during pre-season testing in Valencia, when he got a taste of the Penske EV-5 car.
Despite never recording a win, Giovinazzi was still one of the quickest drivers on the F1 grid and recorded a best result of fifth in the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix for Alfa Romeo. No wonder his new team principal Jay Penske was looking forward to working with the 28-year-old, calling him “one of the most talented drivers in the world.”
The Mercedes title defence: Mercedes-EQ won the teams’ and drivers’ titles in season 7 and it will be the team to beat once more. Belgian driver Stoffel Vandoorne and the reigning Formula E champion Nyck de Vries put in impressive performances last season as Mercedes bagged double World Championship titles. Writing for the Formula E website, commentator and pundit Dario Franchitti, the Mercedes drivers “picked up points where they could and maximized results.” Franchitti added that “They took a very aggressive approach to wheel-to-wheel racing, too. Those guys are going to be tough to beat as they look to hold on to double World Championship titles.”
India on the Formula E calendar – soon: There is some encouraging news for Formula E fans in India ahead of season 8, as earlier this month the state of Telangana signed a letter of intent with Formula E, which could see Hyderabad become the first Indian city to host a Formula E race. Signed in Hyderabad, the official candidate city, this agreement will see Formula E work with city and state officials to examine the viability of hosting a E-Prix in the future. Greenko, a Hyderabad-based renewable energy company, will also partner with Formula E to deliver this event. More than 20 cities are currently vying to be part of season 9, which will be the first year of the new Gen3 era of Formula E.
Hosting a Formula E World Championship round could be a respite for motorsport fans in a country, which has a sizable F1 fan following. Remarkably, India has not hosted an elite motorsport racing event since the 2013 Indian Grand Prix. “It has always been our burning desire to race in front of our fans and have a home race. We are now one big step closer to this dream,” Dilbagh Gill, CEO and team principal at Mahindra Racing, says in an email.
Viewers in India can see live coverage of Formula E on Star Sports channels and OTT platform Disney+ Hotstar