In part One of our Season 5 Preview, Esteban Garcia casts his eye over , Virgin, DS , Mahindra and Nissan e.Dams prospects.

 

 

Audi

 

At the Santiago de Chile in February 2018, Audi Sport had only 12 points to show for in the Teams Championship. One month later, Abt took their first victory for the German manufacturer in Mexico City, sparking an upward curve that would give seal Audi the teams’ championship by two points over Techeetah.

 

Undoubtedly, Audi and its Season Four finish made them favourites for the Drivers’ and Teams’ championships. The Ingolstadt factory will benefit from the continuity of drivers Daniel Abt and Season Three champion, Lucas Di Grassi.

 

Efficiency issues were not a problem for Audi at pre-season testing, at Valencia with the German manufacturer developing a powertrain for , customer team of German brand for Season Five.

 

 

Envision Virgin Racing

 

A brand new name and powertrain see a massive shake-up that Envision Virgin Racing made for Season Five of the ABB Formula E Championship.

 

Chinese renewable energy giant, Envision became the majority owner of the team this year and will benefit from the Audi powertrain. After the DS Performance departure from Virgin Racing, Sylvain Filippi was announced as Managing Director, replacing Alex Tai, who left the team before Season Four finished in New York last July.

 

Due to Alex Lynn’s lack of results in his rookie season, Envision Virgin Racing had also appointed ex Audi factory DTM driver Robin Frijns. Frjins will race alongside Formula E multiple race winner, Sam Bird. The Dutchman has competed for Andretti Team on Season Two and Season Three but he was absent during Season Four.

 

As a customer team, Virgin will try to emulate Techeetah’s Drivers title-winning performance last season.

 

 

DS Techeetah

 

As Renault left the ABB Formula E Championship, Techeetah will partner with DS to brand another new name to electric series: DS Techeetah. The Chinese team will retain the same driver lineup as Season Four with last season’s Champion Jean-Eric Vergne and Andre Lotterer. 

 

Last season, Techeetah achieved the first 1-2 in Formula E history at the Santiago ePrix after a scary moment between Lotterer and Vergne. The former WEC and japanese Super Formula driver is in position to win races this season. If Lotterer is a genuine contender for the title, Vergne will have a tough battle with his teammate.

 

The DS backed Techeetah team completed 1.172 km of running during pre-season testing.

 

 

Mahindra

 

The Anglo-Indian Team will enter Season Five with a new driver line-up. Despite of this, Felix Rosenqvist, who will race in IndyCar with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2019, will make an one-off appearance in Saudi Arabia due to contract issues with Pascal Wehrlein.

 

Wehrlein split with Mercedes before 2018 season after being unable to find a seat in Formula 1 after one season with Sauber in 2017. The German will debut in Marrakesh, second round of Season Five next month.

 

With Nick Heidfeld retiring from full-time driving, Jerome D’Ambrosio was recruited from Dragon Racing to replace the former BMW Formula 1 driver. The Belgian achieved a podium last season with the American team and expects to ‘fight at the front’. Heidfeld will remain in the team in a newly created advisory role and act as official test and reserve driver.

 

Mahindra is still capable of winning races. Rosenqvist proved this twice in Season Four but wasn’t in a position to fight for the championship until last race.

 

 

Nissan e.Dams

 

The Japanese manufacturer takes the place of Renault at eDams this season with season 2 Champion Sebastien Buemi remaining as the lead driver whilst doubling duties for Toyota in the World Endurance Championship.

 

Alex Albon was initially announced as the second driver, but was absent of pre-season testing in Valencia due to a last-minute call from Helmut Marko, boss of Red Bull F1 Team, to join Toro Rosso’s F1 outfit for the 2019 season. 

 

The sudden departure meant that only Buemi tested with the car, while Oliver Rowland was subbed into the Nissan e.Dams programme as the replacement of Albon.

 

Software issues hampered the team during the three days of testing – consequently reducing the mileage that the team required to complete in order to check the new car. According to Sebastien Buemi statements, Nissan lost two days of the test in the process.

 

The first japanese brand in the ABB Formula E Championship complimented its line-up with Mitsunori Takaboshi as a reserve driver and Jann Mardenborough as a simulator driver – both are factory drivers in their own right for Nissan.