Six things to look forward to in Tokyo

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Six things to look forward to in Tokyo

The wait is over, Formula E will race around the streets of Tokyo this weekend. It’s one of the highly-anticipated motorsport events of the year, and there are so many big storylines to review before we get tyres on tarmac.

bird leads sao paulo 2024

New circuit, new challenges

Our Formula E grid will tackle the 18-turn, 2.582km street circuit that will surround the Tokyo International Exhibition Centre – the largest venue in Japan also known as Tokyo Big Sight – only minutes from downtown Tokyo.

The track includes three long straights, technical sequences of tight corners, and high-speed combinations set against the stunning Tokyo metropolis backdrop. "I can’t wait to be honest, it’s going to be an incredible circuit,” Reigning World Champion Jake Dennis (Andretti) said on the Added Lap show. “I have driven it on the simulator and it’s tight, twisty and bumpy. It will be fun to watch on TV, but I don’t know about the driver's spines! It is going to be challenging with the really fast tight corners. It’s a little bit like Rome really!”

tokyo-track-map

Drivers have been busy in the simulators over the last weeks and months preparing for the street circuit, which will be held in the Japanese capital. The Tokyo E-Prix will be the 27th Formula E race to have been held in Asia, overtaking North America as the second most visited continent – only behind Europe which has hosted 51 races. 

ABT CUPRA’s Lucas di Grassi is the only driver to have started every Formula E race in Asia, and it is NEOM McLaren’s Sam Bird who has claimed the most wins in Asia with four. Perhaps he can continue his winning tally in Asia off the back of the victory in São Paulo.

Formula E and the FIA have been working hard on a race in Tokyo, and so it’s no surprise it’s one of the most anticipated races we’ve seen in the all-electric championship. It’s no easy challenge to introduce a new track onto the calendar, especially a street circuit with all the rules and regulations from the championship’s governing body that they must follow. 

Could we see five winners in five races?

Thanks to NEOM McLaren’s Sam Bird winning in Brazil earlier this month, Formula E currently boasts the statistic that we’ve had four different winners in four races. There have also been an incredible nine drivers stand on the podium and get their hands on silverware over Mexico City, both races in Diriyah and now São Paulo. 

The first to lift that top trophy was TAG Heuer Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein, who achieved the Julius Baer Pole Position in Mexico City and converted it into his fifth win of the championship. The German-Mauritian driver now has two wins at the iconic Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez under his belt, entertaining the ecstatic crowd, and currently sits second in the Drivers’ World Championship. 

Next up was reigning champ, Andretti’s Jake Dennis. The Brit converted a third place qualifying performance into his maiden victory of the year, and did so in style – with a winning margin of 13.289s. This huge gap was actually the second-largest gap between first and second during an E-Prix in Formula E’s 10-year history! However, things took a totally different turn the following day when both Dennis and Andretti struggled and could only manage 12th place. How quickly the tables can turn. 

THE ADDED LAP: Jake Dennis on his title defence, those 'struggles' and more

Next up was Nick Cassidy of Jaguar TCS Racing, who appeared on all three of the first trio of podiums this season. Cassidy, who joined the Jaguar team ahead of the new season, sits top of the World Championship Standings despite failing to finish the race in São Paulo after sustaining damage to his front wing.

Finally was NEOM McLaren’s Sam Bird, who ended a 37-winless race streak to get himself back on the top step. The emotional victory was the first for NEOM McLaren in Formula E too, and also made it four for four of different teams getting their hands on the first place trophy.

With Tokyo being a new circuit, and nobody on the grid has an advantage of racing here before, it’s all to play for over Round 5 of Season 10, and we can’t wait. 

Home race for Nissan

It’s a huge weekend for Formula E, and one team who will be busier than most is Nissan. The Japanese manufacturer first came into Formula E from Season 5, taking over the Renaut outfit, and has been a key player in the electric racing championship ever since. They underwent a lot of changes for Season 9; bringing in new personnel, forming into their own team, providing NEOM McLaren with their GEN3 powertrains, and have seen several successes since then with three podiums and two Julius Baer Pole Positions. 

Their driver line-up of Sacha Fenestraz and Oliver Rowland is a strong one, and both drivers are thriving off the thrill of such a significant event for their team.

rowland celebrates third sao paulo 2024

“I'm super excited to be racing in Japan,” Rowland said ahead of the weekend, fresh from back-to-back podium finishes in Diriyah and São Paulo. “I went there a few times in karting, and from what we have experienced at the Nismo Festival, the reception we receive from the fans is second to none, so I'm really looking forward to getting on track. 

“It's positive pressure, when you have this type of support you have extra energy to focus on the challenge, we need to manage that in a balanced way, not get too excited but also not too nervous. It's going to be a huge race for the team and I can't wait to get out there and experience the atmosphere!"

Jaguar TCS Racing reach a big milestone

In addition to Nissan, another team hoping for a big result in Japan is Jaguar TCS Racing. The British team are celebrating reaching 100 races in Formula E after joining in Season 3. Only three members of the team have been on the ground for every race, and they are driver Mitch Evans, Team Principal James Barclay and Evans’ Race Engineer Josep Roca. 

READ MORE: Which drivers have completed 100 race entries in Formula E?

For Evans, who has totalled up 10 wins, 26 podiums and six pole positions during that time, it’s a great showing of loyalty and he’s not going anywhere soon – signing a multi-year contract extension at the end of Season 9. 

The team have had multiple highlights during the 99 races entered so far, and will hope their strong form so far this season will translate into a good result on his special anniversary. They remain the only team to have a driver onto the podium at every race round far in Season 10, and currently lead the Drivers, Teams and Manufacturers' Championships.

evans sao paulo 2024

“I was just 22 years old when I first raced for Jaguar TCS Racing, it’s crazy how fast time goes,” Evans reflected. “During our time together, we have been on a huge journey of both learning and growth, and I couldn’t be prouder of what we have achieved. Everyone in the team has helped me to develop both on and off the track, and I’m truly grateful for their ongoing support.”

For Cassidy, who has a history of racing in Japan, he added: “Although I have only competed for Jaguar TCS Racing in four of its 100-race journey, during this time I’ve been able to witness the great progress made over the last eight seasons and have been able to add to our points, podiums and wins tally. I’m really proud to be a part of making history with the team and am looking forward to more races together.”

Cassidy comeback

Talking of Nick Cassidy, the current Drivers’ World Championship leader will be hoping for a better race day than last time out in São Paulo. The Kiwi recorded his first DNF and non-podium finish of Season 10 at the Anhembi Sambadrome when his front wing was damaged fighting in the mid-pack. Starting ninth, Cassidy fought his way up to sixth, before his front wing got caught under the Jaguar and resulted in him hitting the wall. 

CASSIDY: "Lot of positives to take forward" despite Brazil DNF

Japan is a place close to Cassidy’s heart though, and what better way to make a comeback than in Tokyo. The 29-year-old previously branched out into Japanese motorsport and had dual driving duties in the Super Formula and Super GT championships. Driving for the legendary TOM'S racing outfit, the Kiwi continued his rise in Japan taking the Super GT title in 2017, following this with Drivers' Championship honours in the 2019 Super Formula season.

“Tokyo is such an exciting race for me. I spent a large period of my racing career in Japan, and I’m ready to return with fantastic memories. The Japanese fans are very passionate about their motorsport, so I’m hoping I can give them something to cheer about.” 

Mahindra on brink of points

It’s been a bumpy start to the season for Mahindra Racing, who have shown plenty of promise but have not yet converted that into championship points. 

Season 7 World Champion Nyck de Vries made his Formula E comeback with the team, but has yet to reach the top ten when it comes to the chequered flag. On the other side of the garage, Edoardo Mortara has come close, with an 11th place in Diriyah and 12th last time out in São Paulo. 

READ MORE: Facts and stats heading into the inaugural Tokyo E-Prix

In Brazil, both drivers delivered with a season-best showing in qualifying. Mortara was third in Group B, which advanced him into the Duels for the first time this year. For de Vries, traffic on his lap meant he missed out on the Duels by less than a tenth of a second. 

When it came to the race, both drivers were caught out when they both forced wide at Turn 1 and left to follow the Race Director’s instructions to wait at the entrance at Turn 3 and rejoin when the track was clear.

It’s clear the team took a step forward for Brazil, and they’ll be hoping to show off this growth in Tokyo - as the words emblazoned on their car say: ‘together we rise’.

SCHEDULE: Where, when and how to watch or stream the 2024 Tokyo E-Prix Round 5

The Tokyo E-Prix gets underway on Friday 29 March with Free Practice 1 at 16:30 local time.

WATCH: How to watch or stream Formula E's Tokyo E-Prix where you are

Then it's on to race day on Saturday 30 March as Free Practice 2 kicks off the day at 08:00 local, qualifying follows at 10:20 local with lights out on Round 4 at 15:00 local/06:00 UTC.

View the full schedule in your time zone and check the broadcaster listings or tap the Ways to Watch button above to find out where to watch all the racing action where you live.