With a brand new season of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship fast approaching, all eyes will fall on the historic city of Diriyah as the host of the Season 8 opener on the 28th of January.
Known for their ability to defy the odds and throw a few curveballs, we look back at the best Formula E season openers of all time.
Season 1, Beijing
If we're talking season openers, then who could neglect to include Formula E's inaugural race on the streets of Beijing in 2014. Aside from marking the series' arrival in the racing world and seeing 20 all-electric single-seaters battle around Beijing's "Bird's Nest" Olympic stadium, the race turned out to be a last-lap thriller.
Going wheel-to-wheel into the penultimate corner, Renault e.dams' Nico Prost clipped Venturi's Nick Heidfeld while the German driver attempted an overtake and sent his car hurtling into the crash barriers. With both drivers unscathed but unable to cross the line, victory was handed to then-Audi driver Lucas di Grassi.
Season 3, Hong Kong
Embarking on its third season, Formula E headed to the historic harbour of Hong Kong for its season opener. The race saw all 20 new-look cars and drivers navigate their way around the 1.16 mile Central Harbourfront Circuit for 45 laps, which spelt trouble for a few seasoned pros like Lucas di Grassi, Nelson Piquet Jr, Jose Maria Lopez and his teammate Sam Bird. Steering clear of the chaos was then Renault driver Sebastian Buemi, who took the chequered flag in the first race of the season that would see him eventually finish second in the championship.
Season 5, Diriyah
The fifth season saw the new, radically-improved Gen2 cars make their debut on the streets of Saudi Arabia's Diriyah district. With new rules - including the addition of ATTACK MODE - more power, and new teams and drivers on the start line, defending champion Jean-Eric Vergne took an early lead, battling with then BMW driver Antonio Felix da Costa.
While Da Costa took the race win - despite a frantic final lunge from Vergne - the two drivers would eventually become teammates at DS TECHEETAH one season later.
Season 7, Diriyah
Another season opener in Diriyah and more firsts for Formula E as the series hosts its first race as an FIA World Championship, in the dark.
Formula E's very first night race saw the likes of Porsche, Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Jaguar, DS, Nissan and Formula E team battle around the historic city under the spotlights.
It was here that street circuit specialist and ROKiT Venturi Racing's Edoardo Mortara threaded a perfect overtake between Jaguar's Mitch Evans and Porsche's Pascal Wehrlein at no less than 130mph. Despite the risk, the Swissman pulled it off and finished the race second.
Finishing first was Mercedes-EQ man Nyck de Vries - in a clean sweep as he topped every session. His victorious start to the season was a clear signal that he was a true championship contender - something that would crystallise 14 rounds later in Berlin as he clinched his first Formula E title - and a first Formula E Drivers' World Championship, at that.
Season 8, Diriyah
Could the latest 2021/22 season opener in the historic Saudi city find its way onto the list? With new drivers taking to the grid and an ambitious defending champion looking to hold on to his title, sparks will fly when the FIA Formula E World Championship returns on the 28th of January. Don't miss out - tune in to catch all the action.
Published on 20th January 2022
4 min read