With the first official test day for the second FIA Formula E championship starting today at Donington Park, several changes have been announced for the series and drivers in the lead up.
The 2015-16 Formula E season will see a battle between eight new manufacturers of electric powertrains within the field of ten teams. While the same Dallara-produced carbonfibre monocoque and aerodynamic package is required to be retained by all competitors, the differing powertrains mean that each specification of car receives its own title this season.
Through either in-house development or technical partnerships, the ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, Andretti Formula E, DS Virgin Racing, Mahindra Racing, NEXTEV TCR, Renault e.Dams, Trulli Formula E and Venturi Teams will all run their own homologation of car. For the remaining two teams, Dragon Racing will also use Venturi’s VM200-FE-01 car, while Team Aguri will continue to use the SRT01-e package that was the control powertrain in the inaugural season.
|2015-16 FIA Formula E World Championship – Manufacturers & Powertrains|
|Team / Entry||Manufacturer||Powertrain|
|ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||Spark-Abt Sportsline||ABT Schaeffler FE01|
|Amlin Andretti Formula E||Spark-Andretti||Andretti AETC-01|
|NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team||Spark-NEXTEV||NEXTEV TCR FormulaE 001|
|Dragon Racing||Spark-Venturi||Venturi VM200-FE-01|
|DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team||Spark-Citroën||VIRGIN DSV-01|
|e.dams Renault||Spark-Renault||RENAULT Z.E.15|
|Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||Spark-Mahindra||Mahindra M2ELECTRO|
|Trulli Formula E Team||Spark-Motomatica||Motomatica JT-01|
|Venturi Formula E Team||Spark-Venturi||Venturi VM200-FE-01|
Sponsor changes have also occurred, with Amlin Insurance moving from Team Aguri to become the primary sponsor of Andretti Formula E in a multi-year agreement.
For team owner Michael Andretti it is an exciting partnership: “I couldn’t be more excited about Andretti Formula E’s season two plans. Amlin has done a great job building their brand across various platforms, and has shown a passion for motorsport; we look forward to what the new relationship can bring.”
Amlin CEO Charles Phillips agreed, pointing out the synergy between the team and his organisation: “Amlin and Andretti were quick to spot the potential of Formula E. Both organizations are data driven and tech-focused, meaning there is much to look forward to over the coming seasons. Amlin’s global strength in data analysis and our long-term view of business means fits well with this series and combined with Andretti’s excellent motorsport pedigree means we are looking forward to a fantastic few years.”
Alguersuari steps down on medical advice
Several driver changes have been announced, one of which has been forced upon DS Virgin Racing. Jaime Alguersuari was contracted for a second year, however the Spaniard has been forced to step down from his position.
The Spaniard missed the final ePrix of the inaugural season after his racing licence was suspended on medical grounds after fainting at the preceding Moscow ePrix, and as yet no conclusive diagnosis has yet been found despite ongoing tests.
“During the month of July I underwent several tests for which there has not been a medical resolution and I am still waiting for the final diagnosis,” he said in a media statement.
“For this reason I need to announce that, unfortunately, I will not be able to take part in the FIA Formula E Championship for the 2015/16 season with my team DS Virgin Racing. I want to wish good luck to the team in the new championship and thank everyone for their support.”
Vergne and Villeneuve get full-time gigs
Replacing Alguersuari at DS Virgin is Jean-Éric Vergne, who will move across from Andretti to partner Sam Bird. It’s a happy move for the Frenchman: “I am delighted to be joining the team at such an exciting time. With the DS brand coming on board, I am looking forward to being aligned with a French, forward-thinking marque. I understand there are a number of exciting things going on behind-the-scenes that should ensure we have a competitive start to the season.”
Continuing the game of Formula E ‘Musical Chairs’, Nick Heidfeld has found a new home as Bruno Senna’s teammate at Mahindra, in place of Karun Chandhok.
The other big driver announcement is the inclusion of 1997 Formula 1 Champion Jacques Villeneuve (pictured above) at the Venturi team alongside Stéphane Sarrazin. The Canadian will replace Nick Heidfeld, and is excited to compete in a full championship season again after forays sporadic forays into NASCAR, Word Rallycross and even V8 Supercars.
“Last season, each time I met drivers from Formula E they were saying it is really a very interesting championship. This is the first time in several years that I will participate in a full championship. I am excited because the atmosphere while working alongside the Venturi team is great and that has a very big influence. Also, I know Stéphane Sarrazin well, we trust each other,” he said.
|2015-16 FIA Formula E World Championship – Driver Line-ups|
|Team / Entry||Driver #1||Driver #2|
|ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport||Lucas di Grassi||Daniel Abt|
|Amlin Andretti Formula E||Simona de Silvestro||TBA|
|NEXTEV TCR Formula E Team||Nelson Piquet Jr||TBA|
|Dragon Racing||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Loïc Duval|
|DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team||Sam Bird||Jean-Éric Vergne|
|e.dams Renault||Sébastien Buemi||Nicolas Prost|
|Mahindra Racing Formula E Team||Bruno Senna||Nick Heidfeld|
|Trulli Formula E Team||Jarno Trulli||Vitantonio Liuzzi|
|Venturi Formula E Team||Stéphane Sarrazin||Jacques Villeneuve|
Proving that there is some stability in the field ahead of season two, Renault e.Dams maintain the inaugural Teams’ Championship-winning pairing of Sébastien Buemi and Nicolas Prost, while Dragon Racing will retain Loïc Duval and Jérôme d’Ambrosio, with whom they competed the bulk of the inaugural season.
Lucas di Grassi and Daniel Abt also remain at ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, however only di Grassi will run during the first day of testing at Donington.
Reigning driver’s champion Nelson Piquet Jr will remain at NEXTEV TCR, where he will be joined in the opening test by Oliver Turvey, who also acted as his teammate in the London ePrix with an impressive showing.
The three remaining teams will only run one car each at the first test day, each using a driver familiar to the team from their 2014/15 campaigns. Unsurprisingly, Jarno Trulli will drive the test for his eponymous team, while Simona di Silvestro will steer the Andretti car and Salvador Durán will handle driving duties for Team Aguri.
Images via FIA Formula E Championship