RIYADH: The all-electric championship is back. The Diriyah E-Prix returns in the historic desert surroundings of the UNESCO World Heritage site for its season-opening double-header on Jan. 28-29.
Twenty-two of the best drivers in the world will race for eleven teams and only one trophy in season eight of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.
Here are the heroes behind the helmets:
Reigning team world champions Mercedes-EQ return for their final season in Formula E with another stellar lineup, bringing back season seven champion Nyck de Vries and Belgian star Stoffel Vandoorne.
The flying Dutchman De Vries qualified on pole for the first race of last season’s opening Diriyah E-Prix, leading every lap thereafter en route to his first-ever victory in the series.
His second victory came soon after, in Valencia. De Vries ended the campaign with two wins, four podiums and 99 points, becoming the first official FIA Formula E World Champion, following the series’ long-awaited FIA sanctioning. Vandoorne heads into his fourth season on the circuit, having finished ninth in last season’s championship with victory in the Berlin finale, three poles and three podiums to his name.
Jaguar TCS Racing
Jaguar race into season eight off the back of their best year yet, and led by a duo of strong, proven race winners: Kiwi Mitch Evans, and Britain’s Sam Bird. With two wins and 10 podiums last season, Evans returns as a serious challenger in 2022. A race winner in every season of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship to date, Bird bagged first place in both Diriyah and New York last year.
Avalanche Andretti Formula E
It’s a new look for the Andretti team in 2021, as Avalanche replaces BMWi as title partner. On the driving side, Jake Dennis returns alongside the rookie US driver Oliver Askew.
Dennis had a spectacular start to his Formula E career last year, becoming the most successful rookie in championship history, in terms of podium visits, with victories in Valencia and London.
Dragon / Penske Autosport
Dragon showed real signs of improvement last season, and have now added the Italian Antonio Giovinazzi from Formula 1’s Alfa Romeo. He joins forces with teammate Sergio Sette Camara, who had his best drive in Diriyah last year — finishing fourth in the opening race.
TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team
The German team return to battle in season eight with Andre Lotterer once again alongside Pascal Wehrlein. Both Wehrlein and Lotterer — the latter a three-time Le Mans winner and five-year Formula E veteran — scored consistently through a strong second half of the season last year.
A stunning victory in London on home soil for driver Alex Lynn was the highlight, but he departed at the end of the season. Fellow Brit Oliver Rowland replaces him, racing alongside another British driver, Alexander Sims, for 2021-22.
Sims has a race win and podiums to his name in Formula E, and Rowland joins the team having made the move from Nissan e.dams.
Nissan e.dams are heading into season eight with one of the most promising talents on the grid, Maximilian Guenther, who proved himself with a win in New York last year. He joins one of the most experienced drivers on the grid in 2015-16 champion, Sebastian Buemi, a multiple winner at Le Mans and in sportscar racing.
Envision kick off season eight with a striking new green design for their cars, while retaining their driver pairing of Nick Cassidy and Robin Frijns.
After returning to Formula E in 2018-19, Frijns is now embarking on his fourth season with Envision, while Japanese Super Formula and Super GT champion Cassidy joined the Envision team last year and recorded two podium finishes in Mexico and New York.
NIO 333 Racing
NIO 333 retain veteran Oliver Turvey, who joined them just before the 2014-15 season finale in London, and add rookie Dan Ticktum for season eight.
Ticktum was a successful Formula 2 racer, winning his home event at Silverstone in his rookie season, and securing three further podiums.
ROKiT Venturi Racing
After three podium finishes, including two wins, last year, the 2016-17 champion Lucas di Grassi, who spent seven years with Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, has joined Venturi. Edoardo Mortara finished second in the standings last year — his fourth campaign with Venturi, narrowly missing out to Nyck De Vries in dramatic fashion in the finale in Berlin.
DS TECHEETAH had their streak of back-to-back teams and drivers’ championships halted last season when they finished third by just a single point.
Jean-Eric Vergne and Antonio Felix da Costa return and could arguably be regarded as the strongest pairing on the grid. Both are past title winners — Vergne twice — with seven seasons of Formula E experience to their names.