Season 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship heads to South Korea and Seoul for the first time on 13 & 14 August for the inaugural Hana Bank Seoul E-Prix Rounds 15 & 16, with the destination of World Championship honours to be decided and Formula E's centenary race to be run.
Eleven teams, eight manufacturers and 22 world-class racers have fought tooth-and-nail all year with the Drivers' World Championship fight boiling down to a four-way fight. Add into the mix Formula E's 100th race on Sunday, amid a first trip to Seoul, and the stage is set for a landmark weekend in the series' history as the Gen2 era draws to a close.
As it stands
Stoffel Vandoorne leads the way for Mercedes-EQ as the team bids to make it a double-double following their Drivers' and Teams' successes in Season 7. The Belgian extended his lead to 36 points over nearest rival Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) during a SABIC London E-Prix weekend that saw his closest competitors falter.
In any given Formula E campaign the highs and lows are innumerable. Consistency is always king come the final chequered flag of the season and Vandoorne wears that crown. He's scored on 13 occasions this season, which takes the honour from Daniel Abt as the prior most consistent points finisher in a campaign. His last four rounds have all yielded top four finishes, plus a pair of podiums - the gauntlet's been thrown down by the Mercedes driver.
Still, Vandoorne has been around the series long enough to know that everything's still on the table, even if he's the man with the target on his back heading to Korea.
Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) had worked his way into closest contention of top spot but a crushing technical problem in London put a huge dent in his chances. The Kiwi was on track to pin Vandoorne back to a 22-point lead, some 14 fewer than his current advantage but an inverter problem at the end of Round 14 saw him out of fourth and into retirement - despite his frontrunning pace. Ironically, that was the same component that saw the Jaguar driver fail to get away from the line in last year's finale - his title tilt there stopped dead in its tracks.
The dream's still alive though and we've seen him dominate an entire race weekend before, in Rome this season, but the stakes are much higher this time around and Vandoorne only has to outdo the Jaguar driver in Round 15 for the battle to be over.
In third and fourth, ROKiT Venturi Racing's Edo Mortara and DS TECHEETAH's Jean-Eric Vergne have it all to do. The Swiss had led the running at the halfway stage of the season after a run of two wins and two more podiums in Berlin and Jakarta. Since then, though, it's been two low-scoring points finishes in New York City and a pair of non-scores in London - not good enough to live with Vandoorne's lofty benchmark. That said, he's just five points back from Evans.
Similarly, Vergne's hit his worst ever run in Formula E, with four consecutive blanks for the very first time in the championship. An uncharacteristic return from the Frenchman but everybody's aware of JEV's never-say-die attitude and the DS driver won't settle until it's mathematically done.
The Teams' battle
Mercedes-EQ stretched its legs in London with silverware for both de Vries and Vandoorne. Back-to-back titles look to be on with a 36-point margin on ROKiT Venturi Racing in second, with DS TECHEETAH just behind the Monegasque outfit.
There's plenty of points still on the table, though.
The Seoul finale, Round 16, will mark Formula E's centenary E-Prix, with eight seasons of racing, two and soon to be three generational leaps in EV racing technology, industry-leading sustainability achievements and any number of unmissable on-track moments under the series' belt by the time 2021/22 comes to a close.
Keep an eye across fiaformulae.com and our social media channels this week for more on Race 100 and how Formula E got to where it is today in under a decade.
The 1,000 club
On top of race number 100, Lucas di Grassi (ROKiT Venturi Racing) is chasing his 1,000th point. The Brazilian has been an intrinsic part of Formula E from day zero and is set to become the only man to have entered every E-Prix to-date.
Topping off his Season 8 with that 1,000th point, following a maiden win for Venturi in London which saw him reach 996 in his Formula E career so far, would be some way to celebrate. Lucas has eyes on that prize but the goal for Seoul is to go out and seal championship silverware for Venturi.
"I'm very proud of to be able to be competitive for eight years now, in a championship which is super competitive," said di Grassi. "The level of the teams that drive versus us is just insanely insanely good. But we go to Seoul with our main targetbeing the Teams' World Championship - for ROKiT Venturi Racing to be number one.
"The task is hard, but it's mathematically feasible. So until it's unfeasible, we're going to work very hard. We know how things are in Formula E - everything can happen. So we're going to be on top of it and try to get this World Championship title for the team."
An all-new challenge
The newest circuit on the Formula E calendar sees us take in Seoul's Olympic Park. The lap starts with a tight, technical run before entering the Jamsil Olympic stadium as the 22 racers put on a show for the grandstand audience.
As they leave the stadium a batch of sweeping turns leading to long straights connected by 90 degree turns follows as the circuit wraps around the Olympic park as the drivers jostle position around this fast 2.6km, 22-turn circuit in attempt to go for gold.
Seoul also brings more high temperatures for the teams to manage. EV battery systems and powertrains are at their most efficient and performant inside a specific temperature window.
Managing raw, outright pace with efficiency and high ambient temperatures will be a weekend-long battle for drivers and engineers. There will be plenty of thinking and thousands of kilometres worth of simulator data put into play to ensure ATTACK MODEs, FANBOOST and race strategy are on-point come race one on Saturday.
It'll all be hypothetical for the engineers until they can get out on track in Free Practice to corroborate the maths and sim work they've put in since London.
On top of that, it's a new track surface that will likely evolve rapidly. What might be true on Saturday morning might be completely out of the window come the afternoon - and certainly by Sunday.
As if there weren't enough headaches for drivers and engineers to contend with, the weather could prove critical with high humidity bringing with it a high chance of sharp, heavy downpours.
Whoever nails Seoul will have more than earned their silverware.
Don't miss a minute of Season 8. Keep track of the best ways to tune in where you are at fiaformulae.com/watch.
Follow every lap from Seoul as it happens in the Live Hub. Keep across Live Timing – including a real-time interactive track map and the ability to follow your favourite driver – plus detailed session reports, exclusive interviews, all the standings and results as well as reaction from the ground means fans won’t miss a moment.
New for Season 8, there’s a full race day rundown pulling together everything on-track with the best of social media and in-race clips – alongside the usual Live Hub experience that debuted in Season 7. Get involved using #ABBFormulaE.
The Formula E app allows fans to go behind the scenes and listen to Driver Radio for live reactions from the cockpit and the pit wall as the race plays out. To listen in, download now on iOS and Android.
Formula E blurs the lines between the real and virtual worlds of motorsport and there are even more opportunities to engage with the championship in Season 8, even if you can’t be at an E-Prix in person.
Formula E is the only motorsport in the world that lets fans play an active role in influencing the outcome. FANBOOST for Round 15 opens on Tuesday 9 August, until 15 minutes into the race. To give your favourite driver an extra boost of power, visit FANBOOST and the Formula E app.
Can you predict the unpredictable? The Formula E Predictor puts you in the hot seat to predict each round of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.
It's free to play, and points are awarded for each correct prediction. Make your picks for five race outcomes - selecting from the 22 Formula E drivers that you think will win the E-Prix, clinch Julius Baer Pole Position, set the TAG Heuer Fastest Lap, be the first to use ATTACK MODE and be the driver to make up the most places in the race.
Published on 8th August 2022
5 min read