Formula E’s season-on-season stats compared, heading to Long Beach

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After a three-week break since its most recent round in Mexico City, the FIA Formula E Championship reconvenes this weekend on the streets of Long Beach for its sixth round of the season.

As was the case last year, Long Beach marks the sixth race of the season. Unlike last year, it marks the only trip to the U.S. for the series. Last year, Formula E had a twin-bill at Miami and Long Beach.

Here’s a quick look at where things sat this time last year from a results and points standpoint, versus this year:

  • 2015 through 5 races: 5 winners (di Grassi, Bird, Buemi, da Costa, Prost), 8 different podium finishers (those 5 plus Montagny, Speed, Abt), 4 pole winners (Prost, Servia, Vergne, Buemi), 5 different drivers set fast lap (Sato, Alguersuari, Abt, Bird, Piquet)
  • 2016 through 5 races: 4 winners (Buemi, di Grassi, Bird, d’Ambrosio), 7 different podium finishers (those 4 plus Heidfeld, Frijns, Prost), 3 pole winners (Buemi, d’Ambrosio, Bird), 3 different drivers set fast lap (Buemi, d’Ambrosio, Prost)

As you see, in a year with changes to the powertrains, certain teams have locked in better than others – the e.Dams Renault team has been the pace setter this year.

Here’s a year-on-year points comparison, five races in:

# Driver Nat. Team ’16 Pos. ’15 Pos.
9 Sebastien Buemi SUI e.dams Renault 98 1 43 5
11 Lucas di Grassi BRZ ABT Schaeffler Audi 76 2 60 2
2 Sam Bird GB DS Virgin Racing 60 3 52 3
7 Jerome d’Ambrosio BEL Dragon Racing 58 4 34 7
6 Loic Duval FRA Dragon Racing 44 5 6 18
8 Nicolas Prost FRA e.dams Renault 38 6 67 1
27 Robin Frijns NED Amlin Andretti 31 7
4 Stephane Sarrazin FRA Venturi 30 8 3 20
23 Nick Heidfeld GER Mahindra Racing 27 9 5 19
66 Daniel Abt GER ABT Schaeffler Audi 16 10 19 9
55 Antonio Felix da Costa POR Team Aguri 16 11 37 6
21 Bruno Senna BRZ Mahindra Racing 12 12 18 13
88 Oliver Turvey GB NEXTEV TCR 10 13
25 Jean-Eric Vergne FRA DS Virgin Racing 6 14 14 15
1 Nelson Piquet Jr. BRZ NEXTEV TCR 4 15 49 4
77 Nathaniel Berthon GB Team Aguri 4 16
77 Salvador Duran MEX Team Aguri 0 19 1 22
3 Jaime Alguersuari SPN Virgin 26 8
27 Franck Montagny FRA Andretti Autosport 18 10
28 Scott Speed USA Andretti Autosport 18 11
5 Karun Chandhok IND Mahindra Racing 18 12
6 Oriol Servia SPN Dragon Racing 16 14
10 Jarno Trulli ITA Trulli GP 12 16
28 Charles Pic FRA Andretti Autosport 12 17
55 Takuma Sato JPN Amlin Aguri 2 21

As you can see, the year-on-year pacesetters – Buemi, di Grassi and Bird – have been in top-five positions each of the first five races in both years.

Prost has tailed off a bit this year compared to last, but his decline hasn’t quite been as bad as defending series champion Nelson Piquet Jr.’s, who’s suffered a nightmarish start to his title defense. Piquet won his first race in the series at Long Beach this year.

Team-wise, e.Dams Renault has led the way both years:

Team (Nat.) Car ’16 Pos. ’15 Pos.
ED e.dams Renault (FRA) Renault Z.E 15 136 1 110 1
DR Dragon Racing (USA) Venturi VM200-FE-01 102 2 56 5
AB ABT Schaeffler Audi (GER) ABT Schaeffler FE01 92 3 79 2
VR DS Virgin Racing (GB) Citroen Virgin DSV-01 66 4 78 3
MR Mahindra Racing (IND) Mahindra M2ELECTRO 39 5 36 8
AA Amlin Andretti (USA) Spark SRT01-e 31 6 62 4
VE Venturi (MON) Venturi VM200-FE-01 30 7 8 10
AG Team Aguri (JPN) Spark SRT01-e 20 8 40 7
NT NEXTEV TCR (CHN) NEXTEV TCR FormulaE 001 14 9 49 6
TR Trulli GP (SUI) Motomatica JT-01 0 10 12 9

Both teams that have used the season one chassis and powertrain have seen their points totals drop.

The points were more evenly spread last year. Last year, just 43 points separated second-placed Abt from eighth-placed Mahindra through five races. Now, 70 points separates the top four in the championship and there’s a further 27 points from there back to fifth-placed Mahindra this year.  The Trulli team bowed out of the championship this year before any races.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.