Formula E rolls out on-track in Spain for its sixth visit to Circuit Ricardo Tormo this week in Valencia, with the official pre-season test running between 29 November and 2 December.
Three full days will see some 5-6,000 laps covered by the 11 teams and 22 drivers, as they put their Season 8 gear to the test for the first, and only time before the start of the 2021/22 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship proper.
The first two days’ running will be broken into a morning session between 09:00 and 12:00, with an afternoon session taking place between 14:00 and 17:00. Session 5 on Thursday 2 December will run between 09:00 and 15:00.
A new season brings with it fresh team and driver line-ups, though the top four finishers field unchanged squads.
Reigning champions Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne return with Mercedes-EQ to defend their Drivers' and Teams' World Championships. The Dutchman's Season 7 spoke for itself, while Vandoorne wound up a podium or so shy of top spot in the end, despite proving his outright pace with an unmatched three Julius Baer Pole Positions.
Mitch Evans and Sam Bird are back with Jaguar TCS Racing. The former came within a start-line glitch of potential top honours in the final round of Season 7, while Bird will want to iron out the non-scores to go with the silverware if he's to push for a first Formula E title.
DS TECHEETAH confirmed that double champion Jean-Eric Vergne once again lines up with Season 6 title-winner Antonio Felix da Costa as the Sino-French outfit looks to recapture its je ne sais quoi. Though still firmly in the hunt, the team wasn't quite as miserly as it had been during its Teams' title double and Drivers' hat-trick purple patch. No doubt JEV and Da Costa will be challenging once again.
Envision Racing will seek to build on a positive Season 7, with Robin Frijns impressing on the way to fifth in the standings last time out, and Nick Cassidy no longer just the head-turning rookie.
Avalanche Andretti's Jake Dennis is back after a storming maiden campaign. A final race technical glitch saw him in the wall and out of title contention. Still, one of the best rookie seasons since the series began means expectations will be high in 2021/22. He's joined by the only American driver on the grid, 2019 Indy Lights champ Oliver Askew.
ROKiT Venturi Racing heads into the new campaign off the back of their best yet. Edoardo Mortara fired to second in the Drivers' running, and he's joined by 2016/17 champion Lucas di Grassi at the Monegasque team this season.
TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team's all-German line-up remains. Pascal Wehrlein and Andre Lotterer go again in the search for Porsche's maiden race win in all-electric motorsport as Oliver Rowland joins countryman Alexander Sims at Mahindra Racing.
Maximilian Guenther makes the switch to Nissan e.dams, alongside 2015/16 champion Sebastien Buemi, while DRAGON / PENSKE AUTOSPORT snapped up Antonio Giovinazzi fresh from Formula 1, with the Italian joining Sergio Sette Camara.
At NIO 333, Oliver Turvey is joined by multiple Macau Grand Prix winner and current FIA Formula 2 Championship front-runner Dan Ticktum.
From Season 8, Formula E races can now have additional race time of up to 10 minutes added when incidents cause Safety Car or Full Course Yellow neutralisations during the 45-minute plus one lap race.
Formula E’s Gen2 cars will be the quickest they've ever been this season, too. Drivers will be able to tap into 220kW of power in Season 8, an increase from 200kW in Season 7, during races. Power during ATTACK MODE will also increase to 250kW from 235kW.
There's a new qualifying format featuring Groups and knockout Duels for teams and drivers to get their heads around in 2021/22, too. We'll see who's done their homework on a couple of afternoons in Valencia with drivers getting their first taste of the format at testing.
The 3.37km Circuit Ricardo Tormo on the outskirts of Valencia is a regular haunt for Formula E as host of four previous, and now five of the series’ official pre-season tests – with the first taking place in Season 4 right at the end of the Gen1 era.
Season 7 also marked its first appearance on the race calendar, with an amended layout - and it certainly caused more than a few headaches for engineers, with energy management proving critical.
The final chicane stays for testing, but the rest of the circuit reverts to the usual testing layout, which means, annoyingly for us, we can't draw direct comparisons to the times we saw this time last year. That said, it's not all about times at testing.
“Valencia is a track that we know well from pre-season testing but all in all. It’s very different to a typical street circuit. It’s a different challenge to set up the car for the race. It means more energy saving compared to usual Formula E tracks as the circuit is so quick," says Maximilian Guenther, who's been quickest here on the last two occasions.
“It’s very fast with lots of straights,” adds DS TECHEETAH’s Antonio Felix da Costa. “There’s a lot more high-speed sections and it makes for a very different type of racing.”