Season 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship reaches a dramatic conclusion this weekend for the inaugural 2022 Hana Bank Seoul E-Prix.
With four drivers still mathematically capable of securing the title, and the Teams’ Championship up for grabs too, it is set to be a thrilling weekend of wheel-to-wheel action.
Ahead of the double-header in the South Korean capital, here are all your talking points:
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Vandoorne vying for victory
The Formula E World Championship title for Season 8 is Stoffel Vandoorne (Mercedes-EQ)’s to lose.
The Belgian will start the weekend top of the Drivers’ Championship 36 points clear of second-placed Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing), with Edoardo Mortara (ROKIT Venturi Racing) a further five points back.
Vandoorne has been the series’ most consistent performer this term, having scored in all but one E-Prix and securing podium finishes in half of the races, and it is that characteristic consistency that has enabled the 30-year-old to break away from the chasing pack.
This weekend’s double-header represents the final hurdle for Vandoorne, who will be confident of securing a maiden electric title and be crowned World Champion. However, with 58 points up for grabs in Seoul across the two races, Vandoorne will need to be wary of the challenges of Evans and Mortara in a series renowned for its competitiveness.
“The teams have become massively competitive, and the margins now between everyone are just getting smaller, so it's becoming harder as well to achieve those good results,” said Vandoorne ahead of the finale.
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All to play for in the battle for the Teams' title
A thrilling Teams’ Championship battle has also culminated in a three-horse race, with Mercedes-EQ leading the way on 291 points, ahead of ROKIT Venturi (255 points) and DS TECHEETAH (244 points).
Reigning champions Mercedes-EQ strengthened their chances of back-to-back titles after a mighty points haul in London. The German manufacturer secured 53 points in the English capital thanks to a pair of podiums from Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries, and a top-six finish for both drivers across both races.
Team Principal Ian James will be hoping to steer Mercedes-EQ to victory before he bows out from the team to take over the reins at McLaren, who debut in Formula E in the 2022/23 season. Any slip up though and Venturi and two-time champions DS will be ready to pounce.
Bad year for Bird and the Brits
Veteran driver Sam Bird (Jaguar TCS Racing) has competed in every season of Formula E since the series’ inception in 2014, claiming race victories in all previous years.
Ahead of the season, there had been high hopes that Bird could become the first British Formula E World Champion. However, it has been a sub-par year for the 35-year-old who will lose his record of victories in every season as he sits out the final two races due to a broken hand – replaced by Jaguar reserve driver Norman Nato. In fact, Bird has not even featured on the podium this year.
He is though not the only Brit to have struggled in Season 8, and compatriots Alexander Sim, Oliver Rowland (both Mahindra Racing), Dan Ticktum and Oliver Turvey (both NIO 333) have all underperformed, mustering just 42 points between them.
Avalanche Andretti’s Jake Dennis has been the standout of the British contingent, securing a victory and a P2 in London last time out to add to his P3 in Diriyah, but has still failed to live up to the high expectations set of him after finishing third in last year’s Drivers’ World Championship in his rookie season.
And with places up for grabs on the grid during the off-season, Seoul represents the last chance for the Brits to stake their claim for a spot heading into Season 9.
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Formula E reaches century of races and says goodbye to old friends
This weekend’s Hana Bank E-Prix marks the 100th race in Formula E’s electrifying history and will see a thrilling end to a memorable Season 8.
The season also marks several farewells, starting with Mercedes-EQ who will leave Formula E at the end of the season having been acquired by the newly entering McLaren team.
ROKIT Venturi Racing will also disappear from the Formula E grid after Sunday’s finale, as the team becomes Maserati for Season 9, while Audi and BMW will be leaving their technical roles with customer teams Envision Racing and Avalanche Andretti, respectively.
The chequered flag on Sunday will also represent the end of the Gen2 era, as a new dawn is ushered in with the highly anticipated ‘world’s most sustainable racing car’ making its debut in 2023 – the Gen3.
It will also mark a significant moment for Venturi’s Lucas di Grassi. The Brazilian is set to become the only driver to have featured in every E-Prix to-date following Sam Bird’s unfortunate withdrawal through injury as the only other ever-present driver to date.
Formula E debuts in Seoul
Formula E heads to another new location as the all-electric racing series makes its debut in South Korea this weekend. The 2022 Hana Bank E-Prix will be the second debut for the Net Zero Carbon Championship this season alongside the Jakarta E-Prix.
The track starts with a tight, technical run before entering the Jamsil Olympic stadium, where the 22 racers will put on a show for thousands of fans in the stadium seats, before a batch of sweeping turns leading to long straights connected by 90-degree turns around this fast 2.6km, 22-turn circuit. The high temperatures and wet conditions will also add an extra challenge for the teams to manage.
The race will also mark the first time in nine years that South Korea has hosted a major motorsport event – the most recent being the 2013 Seoul Grand Prix. It is also the first world championship sporting event held at the Jamsil Olympic stadium since the Olympic Games in 1988.
Season 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship reaches its conclusion in Seoul, South Korea with a double-header on August 13 and 14, with both races live on discovery+ and Eurosport 1 from 08:00 BST.
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