The main formula series we’ll be focusing on this weekend is, as you’d expect, Formula 1, which heads stateside to Austin for the fourth United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas.
Not to be overlooked, however, is the FIA Formula E Championship, with the electric open-wheel series set to kick off its second season this weekend at Beijing in China.
Here’s a quick look through the field, with 2014-2015 season recaps, and the 2015-2016 calendar as well:
NEXTEV TCR FORMULA E TEAM / NEXTEV TCR FormulaE 001
Drivers: Nelson Piquet Jr. (No. 1), Oliver Turvey (No. 88)
SEASON 1 RECAP: Piquet won twice en route to capturing the inaugural driver’s championship by a single point over Sebastien Buemi. His teammate, however, was a revolving door of drivers – Ho-Pin Tung, Antonio Garcia, Charles Pic and lastly, Turvey – all shared the second car throughout the year. Turvey impressed on debut at Battersea Park in London, as the only one of five drivers making their first start in the series to score points.
SEASON 2 OUTLOOK: While Piquet will no doubt factor into the season as he seeks a repeat, Turvey has the potential to star. The McLaren development veteran also has recent sports car experience, where he’s won at Le Mans in the LMP2 class for Jota Sport. Team will look to improve on fourth place in the team’s championship.
RENAULT E.DAMS/ RENAULT Z.E.15
Drivers: Nicolas Prost (No. 8), Sebastien Buemi (No. 9)
SEASON 1 RECAP: The most consistent pair all season delivered Renault e.Dams the team’s championship by a healthy margin, although came up short of the driver’s championship. Buemi won three times and came on stronger as the year progressed, while Prost started quickly – making headlines from the Beijing opener with his last-lap contact with Nick Heidfeld – but faded in the second half of the year after his lone win in Miami.
SEASON 2 OUTLOOK: There’s little to suggest that the Renault e.Dams pair – and new package – won’t be as potent this time around. Prost needs better consistency to match his pace, while Buemi only just missed out at holding two FIA championships simultaneously. He won the WEC driver’s title in 2014.
DRAGON RACING / Venturi VM200-FE-01
Drivers: Jerome d’Ambrosio (No. 7), Loic Duval (No. 6)
SEASON 1 RECAP: Oriol Servia moved out of the cockpit into a team manager role after four rounds, with Audi ace Loic Duval coming into the team from Miami. The Duval/d’Ambrosio pairing was a solid one from there, with d’Ambrosio winning in Berlin and the team banking a pair of double podium finishes in the final four races. It was easily the best performance in team history, as its IndyCar program never achieved those heights.
SEASON 2 OUTLOOK: Dragon will partner with Venturi on its powertrain package. Duval now is set for the full season after finishing strong last year, while d’Ambrosio looks to improve upon his fourth place in the first year.
ABT SCHAEFFLER AUDI SPORT / ABT Schaeffler FE01
Drivers: Lucas di Grassi (No. 11), Daniel Abt (No. 66)
SEASON 1 RECAP: Di Grassi led the championship most of the way before a controversial disqualification at Berlin, and by year’s end he’d fell to third in points. Abt meanwhile had plenty of speed – he had top-seven starts in all but one event through Moscow – but only converted one qualifying effort into a podium all season.
SEASON 2 OUTLOOK: Pace won’t be an issue for this team, and add the motivation from di Grassi wanting to rebound from his hard luck loss last season, and he’ll be a force to be reckoned with. Abt’s weak point last year seemed to be in-race energy conservation, and he’ll have to work better on that this season.
DS VIRGIN RACING FORMULA E TEAM / VIRGIN DSV-01
Drivers: Sam Bird (No. 2), Jean-Eric Vergne (No. 25)
SEASON 1 RECAP: Bird flew to start the year but lost his wings – no pun intended – following his crushing win in Malaysia. A win in London though was a nice cap to his season. Jaime Alguersuari was respectable in the second car but abruptly retired prior to the season finale; Fabio Leimer filled in.
SEASON 2 OUTLOOK: With three-time polesitter Jean-Eric Vergne joining the team this year, Virgin may have the two fastest drivers in the championship. Neither, though, was as consistent as the top three were last year.
AMLIN ANDRETTI FORMULA E TEAM / Andretti ATEC-01 (planned), Spark-Renault SRT01-e
Drivers: Robin Frijns (No. 27), Simona de Silvestro (No. 28)
SEASON 1 RECAP: Second and fourth with Franck Montagny and Charles Pic in the Formula E opener served as exactly zero indication of how Andretti FE’s season would play out. Six more additional drivers later, the team had two more runner-up results, three poles, and sixth place in the team’s championship.
SEASON 2 OUTLOOK: A troublesome preseason testing period forced the team to revert back to the season one powertrain. In Frijns and de Silvestro they have two new, capable but oft-unlucky drivers; in Amlin, they also have an additional new partner. Good potential here, but can they convert the potential energy into kinetic energy? Apologies for the lame scientific pun here.
TEAM AGURI / Spark-Renault SRT01-e
Drivers: Antonio Felix da Costa (No. 55), Nathaniel Berthon (No. 77)
SEASON 1 RECAP: Neither da Costa nor whoever his teammate was – Katherine Legge or Salvador Duran – did particularly well in qualifying, although the Portuguese driver frequently moved forward in the races. A win in Argentina was no less than he deserved.
SEASON 2 OUTLOOK: It doesn’t look promising on paper. The team was the last to confirm its driver lineup and with the older powertain package, is not bound to be a pacesetter. Then again, if the new powertrains have issues further up the grid, who knows?
MAHINDRA RACING FORMULA E TEAM / Mahindra M2ELECTRO
Drivers: Bruno Senna (No. 21), Nick Heidfeld (No. 23)
SEASON 1 RECAP: Mahindra scored all but 12 of its 58 points from the first six races, and then went on a second-half drought. Neither Senna nor his first season teammate Karun Chandhok really factored into the races, and the team was one of only two who failed to finish on the podium in season one (Trulli).
SEASON 2 OUTLOOK: Heidfeld joins Senna this year, with the frequently unlucky German now partnered with the driver who replaced him at Renault F1 in 2011. Funny how that works. You’d expect the team to improve this year, certainly with a podium if not the team’s first FE win.
VENTURI FORMULA E TEAM / Venturi VM200-FE-01
Drivers: Stephane Sarrazin (No. 4), Jacques Villeneuve (No. 12)
SEASON 1 RECAP: The team’s most memorable moment came in the opener with Nick Heidfeld’s scary-looking accident on the final lap at Beijing while battling for the win. Things only went down from there, although Heidfeld inherited a podium in Moscow and Sarrazin took the pole at the season finale in London.
SEASON 2 OUTLOOK: In Sarrazin and Villeneuve, Venturi has gone for the perfect-for-2008 Peugeot LMP1 lineup, but perhaps not the best for modern-day single seaters. Villeneuve will no doubt draw attention, but how will the past Formula 1 and Indy 500 champ adapt to his first regular single-seater season in nearly a decade?
TRULLI FORMULA E TEAM / Motomatica JT-01
Drivers: Vitantonio Liuzzi (No. 10), Salvador Duran (No. 18)
SEASON 1 RECAP: Highlights were few and far-between for Jarno Trulli’s team in its first season on the grid, following a late takeover what had been the planned Drayson effort. Trulli himself qualified well on occasion, but had few results to speak of. The second car was a round-robin with Liuzzi running most of the season, but he, nor Michela Cerruti, nor Alex Fontana ever really troubled the front-runners.
SEASON 2 OUTLOOK: Other than Aguri this is perhaps the least distinguished driver lineup on the grid. Liuzzi remains a driver who occasionally punches above his weight but is far from his peak; Duran had a modicum of good qualifying runs with eighth-to-10th place efforts late last year. Points may be hard to come by once again.
CALENDAR (SEASON 1 WINNER)
The calendar for season two is similar to season one, with two notable changes. The TBA date is yet to be formally confirmed but is anticipated to be at Mexico City, Mexico; meanwhile Paris has its first crack at an FE race, replacing the date that had been occupied by Monaco (Sebastien Buemi won). The TBA date replaces Miami, a race won by Nicolas Prost.
1. Oct. 24: Beijing, China (Lucas di Grassi)
2. Nov. 7: Putrajaya, Malaysia (Sam Bird)
3. Dec. 19: Punta del Este, Uruguay (Sebastien Buemi)
4. Feb. 6: Buenos Aires, Argentina (Antonio Felix da Costa)
5. Mar. 12: TBA* (New event)
6. Apr. 2: Long Beach, Calif., USA (Nelson Piquet Jr.)
7. Apr. 23: Paris, France (New event)
8. May 21: Berlin, Germany (Jerome d’Ambrosio)
9. June 4: Moscow, Russia (Nelson Piquet Jr.)
10. July 2: London, England (Sebastien Buemi)
11. July 3: London, England (Sam Bird)
*Not confirmed, but expected to be Mexico City, Mexico to twin with Long Beach for North American two-race swing.