06 Nov 20

Silly season: How is the 2020/21 Formula E grid shaping up?

Silly season is drawing to a close as teams sign off on their driver line-ups for the 2020/21 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, with testing in Valencia on the horizon at the end of this month. Here's a look at how things stand up and down the pit-lane ahead of the new campaign.

Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler

Audi retains the line-up that rounded out Season 6, with 2016/17 Formula E Champion Lucas di Grassi returning alongside Rene Rast, who stepped in from the marque's motorsport stable to compete in Berlin.

Di Grassi was one of only three full-time drivers to have finished every race in 2019/20 on the way to sixth in the championship. His race pace netted him the most progress, at just over six positions gained per race, of any driver.

Qualifying was a thorn in the side for Audi through Season 6, and limited the Brazilian to two visits to the rostrum. Rast arrived on the scene at Tempelhof and immediately impressed, securing 29 points and a maiden podium in Round 10 whilst displaying a no-fear, combative driving style.

Can the duo drive progress for the four rings in Season 7?

BMW i Andretti Motorsport

The German giants confirmed Alex Sims' replacement last week, with rookie Jake Dennis stepping into the fold after impressing during the Andretti-backed outfit's intensive driver selection process, which encompassed a number of test sessions in the BMW iFE.20 and in BMW Motorsport's simulator.

The 25-year-old Brit joins 23-year-old German Max Guenther at BMW, completing a youthful-looking line-up in direct contrast to Audi's approach.

Guenther finished ninth in the Drivers' table last season, with victories in Santiago and Round 8 at Tempelhof. Four non-finishes - including the loss of a podium in Berlin for overtaking under the safety car - ultimately hampered his outright finishing position.

Dragon Penske Autosport

It was a tough season all-round in 2019/20 for GEOX Dragon, now Dragon Penske Autosport for Season 7.  Both Brendon Hartley and Nico Mueller were rookies - albeit decorated in other categories - and only Hartley managed to score points.

Ninth spot in Chile was the team's high for the campaign as it turns to 2021 and the opportunity to climb to the next rung on the Formula E ladder.

It's all-change, with two empty seats the current state of play. Who does Dragon have up its sleeve to steer them forward this season?

DS TECHEETAH

DS TECHEETAH took Teams' honours in Berlin having secured four wins in five by Round 9 of the season. That included a record-equalling three on the spin at the hands of Drivers' Champion Antonio Felix da Costa between Round 5 in Marrakesh and Round 7 in Berlin, plus one via 2018/19 title winner Jean-Eric Vergne.

That's three back-to-back Drivers' crowns and two Teams' titles now for the Sino-French outfit, so why change a thing? Da Costa and JEV are back for Season 7, but can Vergne close the gap after his team-mates searing end to the 2019/20 campaign and will DS remain the benchmark?

DS TECHEETAH

Envision Virgin Racing

Sam Bird moves to pastures new for Season 7, having competed every single Formula E race with the British outfit. The team moved quickly to pin Nick Cassidy down as his replacement, with the 25-year-old entering the fray off the back of securing the Japanese 'Triple Crown' of Super GT, Formula 3 and Super Formula titles.

Cassidy has also illustrated his capabilities in Gen2 Formula E machinery, with a new lap record in Marrakesh on his first outing with the team at the Rookie Test back in March on his way to topping the timesheets.

He'll join Robin Frijns, who ended 2019/20 on a high in Berlin with four Super Pole appearances and a pair of podiums on the way to 12th in the Drivers' table.

Mahindra Racing

Jerome D'Ambrosio closed out a two-year stint at Mahindra with 16th in the standings, and has since retired, moving into team management as deputy team principal of ROKiT Venturi Racing.

Four top ten finishes over the season saw him edge former team-mate Pascal Wehrlein's Berlin replacement Alex Lynn by just a point. Lynn's exploits at Tempelhof were impressive. Three Super Pole appearances were backed up with good points in the final three rounds on the way to 17th in the Drivers' table.

Mahindra contended with a factory move and had to revert to the previous iteration of its powertrain after early-season issues. For 2021, Dilbagh Gill will be hoping his team can now push on, with Alexander Sims already signed up for Season 7. Will Lynn follow full-time? There's still a seat yet to be filled...

Mercedes-Benz EQ

It's as you were at Mercedes-Benz for 2020/21, with continuity the watchword for the Stuttgart outfit meaning Stoffel Vandoorne will once again partner Nyck de Vries in the new Silver Arrow 02 - sporting a new powertrain for Season 7.

The team's season reached a final round crescendo with a stunning one-two; Vandoorne leading rookie team-mate de Vries home for a maiden win and podium for the pair in Formula E, respectively.

Both team principal Ian James, and Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport are aiming to reach another level still in 2021 as Mercedes continues its push towards the front.

NIO 333

NIO 333 has undertaken a back-room revamp since Berlin, with a number of changes to its technical teams in both China and Europe, and the Sino-British outfit is eyeing a step forward in Season 7 with its new powertrain.

The team, and its long-serving driver Oliver Turvey, who’s been at NIO 333 in its various guises since the inaugural 2014/15 Formula E campaign and returns for 2020/21, saw Season 6 as a transitional year with new owners for the then-newly christened NIO 333 Formula E Team joining the fold at its outset.

A best of 11th in Chile for Oliver Turvey provided NIO 333's highlight for the campaign last time out and he's eyeing improvement with some promising steps made so-far in pre-season. His team-mate has yet to be confirmed - Ma Qinghua and Daniel Abt were the latest incumbents of that second seat.

Nissan e.dams

Nissan E.dams had some catching up to do after its twin motor solution was outlawed last year.

Its Gen2 plans were thrown up in the air, and drivers Sebastien Buemi and Oliver Rowland have aired their pride at the progress made by the Japanese marque this season, with the former making the rostrum three times and the latter sealing a maiden victory in Round 10 from Tempelhof.

The team will undoubtedly be one to watch in Season 7, and it's duly decided to retain the services of both Buemi and Rowland for 2020/21.

Jaguar Racing

Sam Bird flew the Envision Virgin Racing nest after Berlin, to land a manufacturer drive with Jaguar - a move that's filled the Brit with pride.

The 33-year-old is one of a select group of drivers to have competed in every Formula E race since the series' inception in 2014, tallying nine wins, 18 podiums, five pole positions and five fastest laps to-date. His experience speaks for itself, and that should prove valuable to a team looking to elevate itself to the next level.

He joins Mitch Evans, whose 2019/20 season was one of two halves. Heading into Berlin, Evans found himself just 11 points back from standings leader Antonio Felix da Costa (DS TECHEETAH) and a real contender after making the podium in Chile and winning in Mexico.

The downturn in Berlin was inexplicable, with the Kiwi managing a best of just seventh on the way to seventh spot in the Drivers' standings. It's back to the drawing board over the off-season for the team in a bid to rediscover its early Season 6 pace and promise.

Jaguar Racing Sam Bird Season 7 Formula E

TAG Heuer Porsche

With a promising start to life in Formula E, Porsche will now have its sights set on closing the deficit to fellow rookies Mercedes-Benz EQ, who flew to third in the Teams' Championship and rounded out 2019/20 as best of the German giants.

To try and close the gap, it's drafted in Pascal Wehrlein alongside Andre Lotterer. The 26-year-old German has competed in 17 races in Formula E to-date, entering in the 2018/19 season with Mahindra Racing. He has so far picked up 72 points, a pole position and clinched a spot on the podium in his maiden season, when he finished second at the Santiago E-Prix. Will youth and experience prove the perfect concoction for success?

ROKiT Venturi Racing

Norman Nato joins Edo Mortara at Venturi for Season 7, with the Monegasque team giving its long-time test and simulator driver the vote of confidence and a full race seat.

Last season, Mortara outstripped outgoing team-mate Felipe Massa with five more top ten, points finishes and by eight positions in the final Drivers' Championship standings, eventually winding up in a creditable 14th spot.

Venturi has also added to its back-room line-up during the off-season, with Jerome D'Ambrosio joining as deputy team principal alongside team principal Susie Wolff.

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