Nissan: the global superpower with a point to prove

Nissan e.dams designed the quickest car in the 2018/19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship based on one-lap pace, but the Japanese powerhouse are already on the back foot ahead of the new season after their innovative dual-motor powertrain was banned. They will require all the skills of Sebastien Buemi – Formula E’s most successful driver in history – and feisty Brit Oliver Rowland to fight back against the odds and prove a point to rival OEMs.

Nissan teamed up with the three-time title-winning e.dams squad ahead of the 2018/19 campaign as they set their sights on becoming the dominant force in Formula E. The global powerhouse went down a different design path to the rest of the grid, developing a unique twin-motor powertrain that delivered exceptional one-lap performance.

While passed legal by the FIA, this innovative technology caused consternation among rival teams as Sebastien Buemi and Oliver Rowland gained a stranglehold on qualifying. The duo secured six pole positions out of a possible 13 while they also managed 16 Super Pole appearances between them. Nissan initially struggled to convert this qualifying performance into race pace but ended the season with six podium finishes, including four on the bounce – and a maiden Nissan e.dams win – for Buemi during the run-in. This late charge was not enough to secure a second title for the former champion, but did help vault the squad up to fourth in the Teams’ Championship.

The platform had been laid for an assault on the overall crown this time around, only for Nissan’s innovative powertrain to be outlawed by the FIA near the end of the season. During the off-season, the move left the Asian marque playing catch-up compared to their competitors, with a daunting redesign of their car required ahead of the new campaign.

Buemi slammed the decision as ‘killing innovation’, so the Swiss driver will be more motivated than ever to get one over his rivals and show he’s still got what it takes to compete at the top. The 31-year-old has the most wins ever in Formula E but his triumph at the 2018/19 finale in New York was his first all-electric race victory in over two years. The 2015/16 champion, who also has two World Endurance Championship titles and is a two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner, arguably should have retained his Formula E crown in 2016/17 and will be hurting to see others claim the limelight in recent seasons.

Buemi’s title aspirations could well take a hit from team-mate Rowland, with the Brit excelling during his debut Formula E season after being called up at the eleventh hour in place of F1-bound Alexander Albon. The 2018/19 Rookie of the Year must eradicate the errors from his driving but has the pace to compete with Buemi and the rest of the Formula E elite – if Nissan can supply a worthy challenger.