2019/2020 Formula E Season Recap and Review
This article is my very first on Drivetribe. I'd be grateful for any feedback. Without further ado, let's jump in and look back at Season 6.
There are two certainties in life: death and Vandoorne winning Fanboost every damn time. Season 6 was undoubtedly the craziest season the still relatively young series has seen. The BMW-led pre-season testing managed to get us, who don't require hearing a combustion engine's growl to enjoy great racing, pumped for the new championship season spanning 14 races in 12 different cities around the globe including new tracks in Seoul, Jakarta and a doubleheader in London.
Exciting doubleheader opener in Riyadh, brought the cheering crowds a massive contrast between its two races. While Race 1 may have seemed a bit dull to some, Race 2 certainly managed to make up for it. Its chaotic safety car restarts and controversial Attack mode rules are just one of the reasons why Formula E can be so fun. The first race of the season brought victory to the experienced Sam Bird, the second presented Alex Sims with very first race win trophy. The fan-favourite Stoffel Vandoorne taking two third places for Mercedes-Benz EQ. Would he get a chance to fight for the title?
The Santiago E-Prix saw one of the shortest Full Course Yellows in history. In only about half a minute, the marshals managed to push Alex Sims’ damaged BMW i Andretti Motorsport car to safety behind the barriers. His teammate Max Günther managed to snatch first place from António Félix da Costa and stood on the top step of his first ever Formula E podium.
The entertaining Mexico City E-Prix was dominated by Mitch Evans’ commanding drive after getting past André Lotterer into the first corner. During the whole race, the barriers seemed like magnets for the cars. The drivers were crashing out left, right and centre: De Vries, Massa or Nico Müller, just to name a few. Mitch Evans shared his well-deserved podium with António Félix da Costa and Sébastien Buemi. Oh, and did I mention that there were three mandatory attack mode activations?
The race in Marrakesh would, unfortunately, be the final race unaffected by the global pandemic. Da Costa had a little scrap with Max Günther over first place, but the German ended up falling back, having to battle JEV. Vergne managed to get past. However, due to low amounts of usable energy, he had to let Maximilian back past and save energy instead. The three aforementioned drivers all received trophies on the podium.
Marrakesh E-Prix: Formula E
Then, the pandemic hit. All events were cancelled and the world was on lockdown. Everyone was supposed to stay at home. However, staying at home does get boring after a while and many sports did their best to entertain us. Formula E was no different. The organisers arranged a charity event - the ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge in support of UNICEF.
I won’t go into too much detail, but the events consisted of two separate grids: The Drivers’ grid intended for real life racing drivers and the Challenge grid, consisting of simracers as well as a few real-life drivers. The racing itself was absolute carnage, especially the driver’s grid – more so than in real Formula E. The biggest story was something different altogether, though. Daniel Abt apparently wanted to entertain his fellow competitors and decided to let professional simracer Lorenz Hörzing drive his virtual car under his [Abt’s] name, impersonating him in the race. Race winner Vandoorne had his doubts about the identity of the driver in Abt’s car and when the speculations were confirmed, Abt was suspended from the team with immediate effect and ordered to send € 10,000 to a charity of his choice. The incident sparked controversy as some considered Audi’s reaction as being too harsh. Abt was later signed by NIO 333 as a replacement for Ma Qinghua, who wouldn’t be able to attend the finale because of travel restrictions.
Daniel Abt's statement video: Youtube, Daniel Abt
It was decided that the season would be finally rounded off with a triple doubleheader finale in Berlin, spanning six races over the course of only nine days, racing on three different track configurations, including one in reverse.
Unfortunately, it seems as if there can be too much of a good thing and so many races in such a short timeframe are quickly becoming one incoherent mess in my head. Yet, some highlight still pop into my mind. Da Costa’s winning performances in the first two races, Stoffel Vandoorne’s double overtake on Bird and Rowland in the second Berlin race, Rene Rast's impressive "rookie" performance and Mercedes EQ’s 1-2 finish in the final race are a few which come to my mind. Da Costa wrapped up the championship with two races still to go, ultimately finishing with the highest points advantage in Formula E history.
The newly crowned champion celebrating in Berlin: Formula E
My subjective thoughts on the season are mostly positive, though I still find myself thinking Formula E should aim to better fill other motorsport’s winter breaks. The wait between the second and third races (almost two months) was exhausting and felt almost as long as the lockdown. I wish the race organizers experimented more with their Attack mode system, especially in Berlin, where the races, in my humble opinion, really needed something to set them apart from the rest.