September 9, 2016
With Formula E’s pre-season testing complete, we’ve analysed each team’s performance to try and predict the results of the 2016-17 season.
There’s no doubt Renault still looks the strongest team going into season three. Pre-season testing was a display of both outright pace and reliability, headlined by Sébastien Buemi smashing Donington Park’s Formula E lap record and being the only driver to lap in the 1:28s. Based on what we’ve seen so far, it would be foolish at this stage to bet against Renault and Buemi retaining their respective titles this season.
Powered by a new, lighter, single motor powertrain, I expect DS Virgin to emerge as Renault’s closest competitor this season. Sam Bird has to be a strong tip for multiple wins and championship contention, and it shouldn’t take too long for three-time WTCC champion Lopez to bed in and start delivering the big points as well.
Faraday Future Dragon Racing
Dragon has looked strong throughout testing with its new bespoke Penske powertrain and Faraday Future backing. Although I can’t see a full title challenge from either driver just yet, the solid potential of the Penske 701-EV presents a great chance for d’Ambrosio to add to his win tally and Duval to return to the podium.
ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport
I think ABT will slip back this season. The car is undoubtably quick – quick enough to challenge at the front, even – but with Virgin and Dragon both making significant gains over the summer, I believe ABT will have to wait until it has full Audi factory backing next season before it can contest the title again.
The new Mahindra looked in good form in testing, especially in the hands of street circuit ace Felix Rosenqvist. With such a tight midfield this season it will be tough for Mahindra to defend their previous fifth place in the standings, but with some solid performances and perhaps a few podiums along the way, it’s far from impossible.
MS Amlin Andretti
This should be a strong season for Andretti. Fielding arguably the strongest lineup on the grid in Robin Frijns and António Félix da Costa, regular points hauls and even podiums should be a regular occurrence – even if the car itself does not look as quick as Mahindra’s or Techeetah’s.
New entrant Techeetah was something of a revelation in testing, with a customer Renault drivetrain taking Jean-Éric Vergne to the top of the timesheets on three of the six days. Whether that form will carry over into the rest of the season is another question, though; as is whether Vergne and Ma Qinghua have the consistency and ability to extract the most from the Techeetah package.
A modest beginning for Formula E’s newest marque, but based on what we’ve seen in testing I don’t think Jaguar yet has what it needs to best an established midfield name like Andretti or Mahindra, especially when led by two rookies in Adam Carroll and Mitch Evans. But with what looks to be a reliable car, regular lower points finishes should provide a good foundation for future success.
The Monegasque team has had a troubled pre-season, lacking not only in pace but crucially reliability. Holding on to last season’s sixth place looks like much too tall an order for Venturi – battling to keep NextEV behind seems their most realistic goal in season three.
Whilst NextEV doesn’t look to have returned to its season one performance, its Formula 002 powertrain does at least show some improvement over last season – especially in qualifying trim. But last season NextEV’s troubles weren’t with running at speed so much as running efficiently in the race, and so it remains to be seen whether the team can fare any better than scrapping for ninth and tenth place again.