Season 8 of the all-electric Formula E series gets underway this weekend, with Saudi Arabia's Diriyah playing host to the first two rounds of the season.
Taking place on 28 and 29 of January, 12 teams and 22 drivers face off once again in electric racing's most cutting-edge technological machines for the final year of the Gen2 cars.
Mercedes will be looking to make it two World Championships in a row, after securing their first Teams' and Drivers' Championships in 2021 as Nyck de Vries tasted title glory.
De Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne continue at the wheel for Mercedes. Having dominated en route to his maiden Formula E win in Diriyah last year, de Vries is one of the favourites to make a strong start to the campaign (despite a crash in practice).
At Jaguar, Mitch Evans and Sam Bird line up as teammates once again, while double champion Jean-Eric Vergne continues for DS Techeetah with Season 6 champion Antonio Felix Da Costa as his teammate.
Elsewhere, Antonio Giovinazzi has cropped up in Formula E as he drives for Dragon Penske this season after being dropped from his Alfa Romeo F1 seat.
Former F2 racer Dan Ticktum, previously of the Red Bull and Williams F1 driver programmes, has also found refuge in Formula E, where he will make his debut with NIO 333 this weekend.
2022 Formula E drivers and teams
|Mercedes||Nyck de Vries / Stoffel Vandoorne|
|Jaguar||Mitch Evans / Sam Bird|
|NIO 333||Oliver Turvey / Dan Ticktum|
|Envision Racing||Robin Frijns / Nick Cassidy|
|Dragon Penske Autosport||Sergio Sette Camara / Antonio Giovinazzi|
|Venturi||Edoardo Mortara / Lucas Di Grassi|
|DS Techeetah||Jean-Eric Vergne / Antonio Felix Da Costa|
|Nissan e.Dams||Sebastien Buemi / Maximilian Gunther|
|Avalanche Andretti||Jake Dennis / Oliver Askew|
|Mahindra||Alexander Sims / Oliver Rowland|
|Porsche||Andre Lotterer / Pascal Wehrlein|
Some key rule changes
Formula E drivers will have a little bit more power available to use when on-track this season, with the cars set to be the quickest they've ever been.
Drivers will have 220kW of power, an increase of 10 percent over last season. There is also a power increase for Attack Mode sequences, with a jump from 235 to 250kW.
Meanwhile, races can now have an extra 10 minutes added onto their duration, should incidents cause Safety Cars or Full Course Yellows during an E-Prix.
A new qualifying format
Formula E introduces a new qualifying format for this season. It is a rather complicated system that needs some explaining...
The 22 drivers are split up into two groups of 11. These groups are sorted based on a driver's position in the standings. Those in odd-number positions are in Group A, with those in even-number positions in Group B. For this weekend's first race, the groups will split the teammates from each outfit.
Both groups, A and B, then have 12 minutes to set a time using a maximum of 220kW of power. If a driver does not set a time in the first six minutes of the session, they will be given a penalty.
The top four drivers from each group will then move into direct head-to-heads to knock each other out. Confusingly, the fastest from Group A will face off against the slowest from Group B. Second fastest in Group A will go up against the second slowest from Group B, and so forth.
As winners are determined, they advance into eight semi-finals to continue eliminating each other until just two drivers remain.
The final duel determines the front row and the winner of pole position and the three championship points.
It is a chaotic format, brought about as a result of the old system putting the top drivers in the championship out on track during the very first part of qualifying – resulting in drivers who were doing well being punished.
An eye to the future
Formula E introduces the new, faster Gen 3 cars next season, with the 2022 campaign being the swansong for the much-loved Gen 2 machines.
It has been a staggering rate of progress from Formula E, which is reaching maturity after making its debut with the pedestrian Gen1 cars back in 2014.
"Next season we will use the third-generation cars, which are perhaps even up to three seconds per lap faster than the current cars," said Porsche's Andre Lotterer during an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.com.
"An amazing difference, especially when you see that we always race on street circuits."
Lotterer reckons the all-electric series will continue to innovate to improve the technology and the speeds seen on track.
"It is wonderful to see how quickly people in the car industry have made the step to fully electrically powered cars," he continued.
"If you now see how fast the cars are already and how much faster they will become, I think that Formula E is the racing class of the future. You can see that in the next step that will be made with the new generation of cars. They even have four-wheel drive, which makes the car even more challenging.
"E technology is always evolving and we are reaching insane speeds. The latter is something that may not always be known to many fans.
"I always compare Formula E to cycling in the living room. Maybe the top speed isn't that high, but when you try to race your bike through your living room as fast as possible, it becomes a big challenge!"
2022 Diriyah E-Prix time schedule
|Date||Event||Time (GMT)||Time (CET)||Time (Local)|
|Thursday 27 January||Practice 1||15:00-15:30||16:00-16:30||18:00-18:30|
|Friday 28 January||Practice 2||10:30-11:00||11:30-12:00||13:30-14:00|
|Friday 28 January||Qualifying 1||12:40-13:55||13:40-14:55||15:40-16:55|
|Friday 28 January||Race 1||17:03 (45 min + 1 lap)||18:03 (45 min + 1 lap)||20:03 (45 min + 1 lap)|
|Saturday 29 January||Practice 3||10:30-11:00||11:30-12:00||13:30-14:00|
|Saturday 29 January||Qualifying 2||12:40-13:55||13:40-14:55||15:40-16:55|
|Saturday 29 January||Race 2||17:03 (45 min + 1 lap)||18:03 (45 min + 1 lap)||20:03 (45 min + 1 lap)|
An exciting calendar
While Saudi Arabia kicks off the season this weekend, South Korea has the privilege of hosting the finale in August.
Between now and then, there will be visits toMexico, Italy, Monaco, Germany, Indonesia, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom – a hugely exciting calendar crisscrossing the globe!
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