Greetings motorsport fans – Formula E starts this weekend, and thanks to Badger GP, here’s your Spotters Guide!
Audi Sport Abt
Audi Sport Abt aren’t an official entry from the German marque. Let’s get that clear right from the outset. However, they are an exceptionally professional outfit and one that should thrive towards the business end of the racing this season. Leading lights in DTM and German GT racing, the Germans will be disappointed with anything less than success in Formula E.
Lucas Di Grassi
A man currently in the bosom of Audi’s Sportscar programme, Di Grassi is somewhat a seasoned professional now in Motorsport despite being only 30 years old. Remember him from Formula One? That’s right, the Brazilian was part of Virgin Racing’s inaugural season in the sport back in 2010, before it changed hands to Marussia and prior to Di Grassi leaving for pastures new. Experience across the spectrum, Sau Paulo’s third son (can we say that?) has proved himself as a versatile racer, and should hit the ground running with his latest venture.
Daniel Abt was a shoe-in at Audi Sport Abt, and not just for the obvious reasons. The Bavarian won the ADAC Formula Masters series for his fathers team in Germany, before success in German Formula 3 and GP3 led him GP2 in 2013 with ART Grand Prix. However, a disastrous season with ART followed by a equally as trying season this year with Hilmer Motorsport in the same category has left the 21-year old hoping for an upturn in fortune in Formula E.
Despite little in the way of racing pedigree other than a blighted season in Formula One four years ago, Virgin Racing are essentially an all-new team with big ambitions; after all, this is Beardy Branson’s team we’re talking about. With the likes of Jaime Alguersuari & Sam Bird on-board, two experienced and evidently fast pedallers, the team should be at the pointy end.
Everyone’s favourite DJ and former Toro Rosso driver is back, with Formula E and Virgin forming the basis for the Spaniard’s escape from the commentary box and DJ booth. In truth, Alguersauri has done little in a race car since his ousting from Formula One at the end of 2011, and thus has much to prove upon his return to full-time competition.
Sam Bird is arguably one of Formula E’s greatest talents on the grid, with the British hopefuls last noticeable Motorsport activity offering no less than second in the 2013 GP2 Championship. Three years at the sharp end of F1’s feeder series and a Mercedes Test Driver role should on merit have led him into an F1 race-seat, but without the dollar to go the distance, the 27-year old lines up this weekend for Virgin as one of the favourites for victory.
With years of experience in the electrical road car sector, Mahindra enter FE as a promising proposition, with their promise only further enhanced by the running of the team by crack-Formula squad, Carlin Racing. The British team have won no less than ten drivers titles across four single-seater series in it’s 17 year existence, and certainly know how to set an internal combustion propelled car up. One has to presume that that spark will continue with their step into the electric limelight.
Bruno Senna may have done little in the way of setting the world alight, despite spells in F1 with the likes of Williams, Lotus and HRT, but his consistency for all three outfits aswell as experience in Sportscars and the runners-up spot in GP2 back in 2008 give weight to the fact the Brazilian can certainly drive. As a man regarded as a ‘thinking driver’, the technical aspect to FE may well play straight into his hands.
Like his teammate and good friend Bruno, Karun Chandhok has a vast array of experience in a number of Formulae, with Le Mans, WEC, GP2 and F1 all lining-up nicely on his CV. Many have predicted that season one in FE may be about the cleverest rather than the fastest driver, a notion that could suit Chandhok, Senna and Mahindra as a whole very well.
Arguably one of the biggest names in American motorsport on the grid for Formula E, which should aid tickets sales in Miami and Long Beach later in the year. The reigning Indy 500 champions also have teams running in Indy Lights and Global Rallycross, so starting in a new discipline shouldn’t be too much of challenge. Despite only confirming one driver, the team may turn to some American talent in Scott Speed (who has tested for them) and Marco Andretti when they reach home soil.
Franck has been part of the Andretti family for some time, starting two Indycar races and a sportscar campaign in recent seasons, so should be a natural fit. Coupled with experience in a variety of other categories, such as F1, Le Mans and Superleague, having a versatile driver in a versatile outfit can only be beneficial for both. Look out for animated interviews too.
Included in our list despite being unfconfirmed for the opening round, Charles Pic hasn’t really been seen much since being released by Caterham F1 at the end of 2013. Indeed, he was spotted at the last FE test in Caterham overalls. Despite an impressive GP2 record he hasn’t really set the world on fire in terms of personality, but should be a dependable driver if the opening round is all we see of him.
A late edition thanks to the takeover of Drayson, Jarno Trulli emerges from his self-imposed exile to return to racing. Despite the teams delayed entry into the series, Jarno & co have not failed to play catch-up, with the Italian himself taking victory in the final race simulation held at Donington Park during pre-season testing.
Everyone loves Jarno, right? The experienced Italian makes his return to motorsport in Formula E, and his debut as a team owner. Popular with Formula One die-hards everywhere, Trulli should do well in the FanBoost stakes, when he’s not shouting orders and selling wine, that is.
One of the two ladies to bless Formula E in it’s inaugural season, Michela Cerutti is a Milan-based racer with a background that involves success in F3 racing and Italy’s national Touring Car catagory, the Superstar Series.
Venturi Grand Prix
As a team previously dedicated exclusively to land speed record attempts, Venturi Grand Prix’s biggest challenge this season will probably be corners. Once that’s handled though, the team co-founded by a certain Leonardo Di Caprio should be far from the pack of the pack, with the experienced likes of Nick Heidfeld and Stephane Sarrazin putting in the shifts behind the wheel.
The definition of ‘Mr Consistency’, Quick Nick returns to single-seaters after leaving Renault in 2011. In that time he hasn’t rested on his laurels though – two 4th place finishes at Le Mans have been added to his CV in that time. His knack of getting a car to the end of a race will be his strongest assest as the series unfolds. Mega beard too.
If Heidfeld is Mr. Consistency, then let us introduce you to Mr. Versatile. Sarrazin may be familiar to some thanks to his exploits for F1 backmarkers Minardi in the late ’90s, but he also has dabbled in rallying with Subaru and Le Mans with Peugeot. Can he adjust to be a success in Formula E? Only time will tell.
If Formula E was a beauty contest, walking off stage with the tiara and flowers would be Amlin Aguri, with their gorgeous Bluemobile turning heads from the moment it broke cover. Born out of the ashes of ye ole F1 team Super Aguri, the outfit is one made up of plenty experience in a series where understanding the car is even more vital than as per.
Antonio Felix da Costa
Instantly recognisable thanks to Max Verstappen signing at Toro Rosso for 2015, da Costa is the man that many tipped for that seat over the past few seasons. He’s settled in DTM now though – so settled that he’ll miss the first FE race and be replaced by Takuma Sato – but still has that raw pace that got Red Bull interested in the first place. Could be a dark horse, when he finally races.
Legge has gained a great reputation as a fast driver throughout her career, forging her name through outings in IndyCar and DTM in recent seasons. She does need to get a full season of racing under her belt, and Formula E should be perfect. Should be popular when it come to the FanBoost for the London event, alongside Sam Bird.
While there aren’t really any favourites heading into the first e-Prix, you can’t really go wrong if you were coy enough to bet on e.dams. They’re an expereinced outfit that have their fingers in many racing categories, have the backing of Renault and are co-owned by Formula One legend Alain Prost. But we’ll just wait and see what happens, shall we?
The Red Bull show driver and Toyota WEC man can add Formula E to his CV, and has been constantly at the top of the times throughout Donington Park testing. He’ll have to be at his best to beat his teammate though – not only is he an equally quick racing driver, but he’s the son of the boss as well. Seems to be everyone’s pick for the championship.
Heir to the Prost empire, Nicolas didn’t orginally want to go into racing and studied at Columbia University instead. Eventually succumbed and was fast in junior categories, before switching to Le Mans. Could be a strong challenge to Buemi on the track, and off it, especially if he has inheirted his Dad’s precision skills in driving, and politics.
Another IndyCar outfit taking the plunge into Formula E, this time with Jay Penske’s Dragon Racing. While not quite carrying the sucess of his venerable father, the team has had some modest success on the IndyCar circuit over the past few seasons, and withdrew at the end of 2013 to focus entirely on Formula E.
Catalan driver Oriol Servia lines up for Dragon Racing this season having followed the teams motion of jumping across from IndyCars. Despite a patchy few years of results, Servia has proved in the past that he is no slouch, having finished series runner-up in 2005 and fourth overall in 2011. With the slate well and truly clean, it’s time for Servia to show he can do the business elsewhere.
Despite being a man sat on the sidelines rather than in a raceseat recently, Jerome D’Ambrosio finds himself back in the limelight with Dragon Racing for this season. Since his last F1 outing in place of Romain Grosjean at Lotus for the 2012 Italian Grand Prix, the Belgium has turned to Sportscar racing with Bentley, however Formula E will see him return to his more native habitat of single-seaters.
Team China Racing
China Racing enter Formula E with the weight of a nation lying on its shoulders, and marks the countries latest attempt to crack motorsport. Ho-Pin Tung leads the charge, in a charged car powered by leads, with the late announcement of Nelso Piquet Jr’s addition to the teams ranks doing nothing but strengthen their chances this season. Here’s a thought: if China does get behind China Racing and it’s drivers, the FanBoost could quickly become a very one-sided affair…
A man once on the cusp of Formula One, Chinese driver Ho-Pin Tung arrives in Formula One as his countries top racing driver, with experience stretching from GP2 to Sportscars, and IndyCar to A1 Grand Prix. Considering his position in the Chinese team, and with the first race of the season taking place in China, Tung could be an underdog for the FanBoost, and who knows, even a race win or two? He’ll be Ho-Pin so. Sorry.
Nelson Piquet Jr.
Piquet’s back. Following his exile from F1 circa 2008, Piquet ran away to the States, enjoying varied success in a number of race series including Nascar Trucks and Rallycross categories. Without a doubt quick, there’s no reason why the 2006 GP2 runner-up shouldn’t be back to the fore from the moment the flag drops in China.