Pre-season testing in Valencia has come to an end for another season, and as ever there are plenty of takeaways from the week of running our teams and drivers experienced. With the Circuit Ricardo Tormo actually becoming more representative as the years go on, there are lots of learnings after the October test for the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.
19 of the 21 drivers in the final Friday session set fastest lap times all within 0.7 seconds of each other, a fascinating insight into how close Season 10 looks to be - though they'd been closer still in session one, at just 0.5 seconds apart. With a combined 4,960 laps and a distance of 16,745km accumulated by the grid and rookies over the three days of running, there were lots of stories to take note of.
Jaguar TCS Racing topped the timesheets
There were three days of testing, and for each of those a Jaguar driver ended up quickest. Mitch Evans set a 1m24.474s time on Tuesday morning, before doubling down and finishing the next day in first place again with a 1m24.791s time. However, by Friday, new signing to the team, Nick Cassidy, decided it was his turn at the top spot and finished the session quickest with a 1m24.617s. The Kiwi, who ended Season 9 runner-up in the Drivers’ World Championship, made the move to the Jaguar team from Envision Racing for the new season.
The pairing of Evans and Cassidy, both from New Zealand, is being dubbed one of the most exciting teammate combos the championship has ever seen. Their close competition and lap times, even from the start, are proving these theories right and have us counting down the days to the first round in Mexico City to see how it all translates over a race weekend!
TAG Heuer Porsche’s Antonio Felix da Costa finished the test in third overall (1m24.617s), with Sebastien Buemi of Envision Racing in fourth (1m24.641s) and Maserati MSG Racing’s Maximilian Guenther in fifth (1m24.658s).
A first look at fast charging
Over the course of the week, all 10 teams had a try at the new fast charging solution for the GEN3 cars during a live Formula E pit-lane. This technology is expected to be introduced for Season 10 and will see a return of mandatory pit stops in the championship. With Formula E not requiring pit stops since having to swap cars during the GEN1 era, it’s going to add another exciting element to the E-Prix over a weekend.
Rapid rookies in Valencia
As part of the requirements going into pre-season testing this season, it was mandatory for teams to run a rookie in their cars over the three days. There were some familiar faces who returned, like Zane Maloney (Andretti) and Victor Martins (Nissan) who both contested in the Season 9 Berlin rookie test, but Tuesday morning also welcomed some new talent to the scene.
One debutante who raised lots of eyebrows up and down the paddock was NEOM McLaren’s Taylor Barnard. Getting his first try of GEN3 in an official session, the papaya pilot managed to go top of the timesheets around the half-way stage of Tuesday’s opening stage with a time of 1m24.929s. Driving Sam Bird’s McLaren, Barnard managed to clear the previous record set by Maserati MSG Racing’s Maximilian Guenther the year before (a 1m25.127s).
The TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E team also opted to give Gabriela Jilkova a chance to test the GEN3, making her the first woman to do so. The Czech racing driver was sure to thank the German manufacturer for the opportunity, as well as driver Antonio Felix da Costa for giving her plenty of tips for her 46 lap all-electric outing.
Maserati MSG Racing also have a rookie in the car throughout the season as Jehan Daruvala makes the step up to a full-time race seat in Season 10. Previously a reserve driver at Mahindra Racing, Daruvala will now pair Guenther at the Maserati.
Frijns finishes first in simulated race
During the final day of testing, teams and drivers were part of a 27-lap race simulation to test the new features and technologies expected in Season 10. This race program included the first run-through for fast-charging pitstops, as well as caution and Safety Car periods.
Fresh from re-signing to the reigning team champions, Envision Racing, Robin Frijns won the simulation having overtaken Porsche’s Antonio Felix da Costa in the final laps. Jaguar’s Mitch Evans found himself in second, with da Costa crossing the chequered flag in third. Although there are no rewards for this race, such as championship points on offer, it’s an interesting insight into what the running order could look like over the 16 rounds we’re being treated to this year.
So proud of our amazing team 👏— Mahindra Racing (@MahindraRacing) October 26, 2023
A message from Fred Bertrand to all our fans from Valencia. pic.twitter.com/3UlNcffNZq
Mortara’s strong start with Mahindra
Mahindra Racing have a new teammate pairing this year, as Season 7 Formula E World Champion Nyck de Vries makes his racing comeback after a stint in F1. Alongside the Dutchman is Edoardo Mortara who has also made a big jump, leaving the Maserati MSG Racing family after six seasons together to join the Indian manufacturer in the all-electric championship.
Mortara finished the week’s running with a time of 1m24.701s, placing him sixth in the overall lap times from the test. This was a remarkable effort by the team, given the challenges they faced following damage to some of their support equipment after a localised fire in the pit lane earlier that week. With limited running, de Vries managed a best time of 1m25.118s, with both drivers helping complete a total of 269 laps over the disrupted week.