Welcome to day one of ABB FIA Formula E Championship pre-season testing. Day one of a new season with new cars, new rules, new cities and a whole lot more action coming up. Feels good to be back, right?
While it's only been a few months since we crowned Jean-Eric Vergne as our Season 4 champion, we're ready to do it all again as we embark on a Season 5.
RECAP: so, what's new for Season 5?
Pre-season testing is the first time all 22 Gen2 cars hit the track together. With double the energy storage capacity of the Gen1 car, it's time to say adios to mid-race car swaps. Greater speeds, more action on track and with just one car per driver - there's everything to lose.
In Season 5, we've added another team to the grid - HWA RACELAB - as well as Nissan e.dams, which replaces championship winning team Renault e.dams. Over at Andretti, BMW's partnership with the American outfit blossoms into a full manufacturer works team, giving reigning champions Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler some home-bred competition for Season 5.
We've got eight new faces for Season 5 (some more familiar to Formula E than others), with the likes of Felipe Massa (Venturi Formula E Team), Stoffel Vandoorne (HWA RACELAB), Pascal Wehrlein (Mahindra Racing), Alex Sims (BMW i Andretti Motorsport) and Garry Paffett (HWA RACELAB) making their debut in the series.
As well as heading back to some of our favourite spots, Formula E makes its debut in Saudi Arabia for the season opener on December 15. Alongside Saudi, the series heads to Sanya, China and Bern, Switzerland for the first time in the championship's history.
Pre-season testing report - Day 1
Measuring in at 4.005 km, testing returns to the Circuit Ricardo Tormo for the second consecutive year. Nestled in the foothills, 24 km outside of the Spanish city, it's the first time all 22 cars have hit the track ahead of the first race in Saudi Arabia on December 15, 2018. Here's all the action from day one of pre-season testing at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain.
Despite his first Formula E outing, it was BMW i Andretti Motorsport's Rookie driver Alexander Sims who set the pace in pre-season testing with a 1:17.553 lap time - setting the fastest time in both sessions. Despite his lack of Formula E experience, Sims was a full second quicker than last year's fastest lap time, set by NIO Formula E Team's Oliver Turvey. After Andretti finished bottom of the standings in Season 4, could the tide be turning for the German-American outfit?
Coming in second fastest of the day was DS Techeetah's Andre Lotterer with a time of 1:17.654 behind the wheel of the new DS E-Tense FE19. Despite coming oh-so-close to closing the teams' championship title last season, the Chinese team appears to be benefiting from the new hardware supplied by French manufacturer DS Automobiles. Closely behind Lotterer was BMW's Antonio Felix da Costa, who set a best lap time of 1:17.727 in the afternoon session. Valencia testing marks the start of da Costa's fifth season in the series. After a 15th place finish last season, the Portuguese driver will be keen to improve his performance in Season 5.
After a trouble-free morning, it was HWA RACELAB's Rookie driver Gary Paffett who had a brief encounter with the barrier at the chicane on the start/finish line. With the session temporarily halted while Paffett's car was recovered, the British driver returned to the pits with only scuffs and scratches to the bodywork. After winning the DTM Championship only days ago, the British driver has little time to celebrate his win as he adapts to a new way of racing.
After running well in the morning, newcomer Stoffel Vandoorne remained in the garage for the rest of the day owing to technical problems. Fresh from Formula One, the Belgian driver will be keen to get out and make an impact in the sessions tomorrow.
Finally, for Geox Dragon Rookie Max Gunther, the German driver had technical issues in the morning, which brought his session to an early end. Gunther finished near the back of the pack with a best time of 1:32.242.
Over at Venturi, under new leadership from former driver Susie Wolff, Felipe Massa just slotted into the top ten with a 1:18.176, while his teammate Edoardo Mortara finished 15th with a best time of 1:18.707.
Testing continues tomorrow here in Valencia. Keep it locked in for all the latest news.