Through 16 races, over the course of a seven-month campaign that took competitors to 10 countries on four continents, the 2021-22 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship gripped fans in a tense showdown capped by a cliffhanger finish. At the season’s final checkered flag, Stoffel Vandoorne held an achingly narrow lead over his closest points rival, Mitch Evans, to clinch the title.
Vandoorne’s championship win, the culmination of a streak that saw him on the podium eight times in Season 8, also sealed the constructor’s title for the Mercedes EQ Formula E team for the second year running. The message relayed by that consistency – Vandoorne completed every competition lap of the season – and outright performance extends well beyond the racetrack. It also exemplifies the progress of zero-emissions vehicles, on road and track, in a relatively short span of years.
The season finale – the 100th race for ABB Formula E – was both a beginning and an ending for the series: the first time racing in South Korea and the last race for the Gen2 cars. Progressing markedly from the first all-electric racecars of 2014, the Gen2 machines demonstrated the advances in vehicle efficiency and battery engineering that enable the single-seaters to contest fierce battles on a variety of city-street circuits in severe conditions. And at the cusp of next season’s lighter, faster and more efficient third-generation machines, Formula E continues to advance the technology that has made electric vehicles the world’s undisputed choice of the future.
Momentum built on several fronts throughout the 2021-22 season, as pandemic restrictions eased and the race calendar expanded to reach new audiences. June’s inaugural Jakarta E-Prix, which drew some 60,000 attendees and more than 13.4 million live viewers in Indonesia, set a record as the biggest broadcast audience of a race from a single national market in the series’ history. And while the new season had opened much as it left off the previous year – a win by reigning World Champion Nyck de Vries, an ABB Ambassador – the points chase soon opened up with wins from a total of nine drivers.
Coming into the Seoul final rounds, three competitors from three different teams had the championship within grasp. Evans, driving for the consistently strong Jaguar TCS team, had three wins to his credit; the New Zealander gave it his best effort, adding another win in the first round of the season-ending double header. Edoardo Mortara, whose four race victories boosted ROKiT Venturi Racing to second place in the team standings, locked up third in the drivers points.
Further adding to audience engagement through the season was the newly instituted qualifying format. Employing a two-group opening phase that winnows contenders down to a tournament-style knockout round, the new system leveled the playing field by offsetting the natural improvement of track conditions on a city-street course. As evidence that it succeeded in equalizing chances, only five drivers won races from pole position.
The global diversity of Formula E’s race locations continues to emphasize ABB’s broad footprint. In countries around the world, an ABB presence can be seen in projects encompassing specialized capabilities in electrification, automation, robotics and more. One example: a sortie to Niagara Falls following the New York races by ROKiT Venturi Racing driver Lucas di Grassi. An ABB Ambassador, di Grassi trekked to the US-Canada border for a drenching ride aboard the new electric Maid of the Mist sightseeing ferries, a venerable attraction that that relies on ABB power to assure sustainable, zero-emissions transport for visitors.
Preparations for Season 9, an 18-race campaign that begins on January 14 in Mexico City and will extend Formula E’s reach to Brazil and India, are already at fever pitch. Shakedowns of the Gen3 racecars have begun in earnest, with an official test scheduled for December in Valencia, Spain. More powerful and faster than the machines they replace, the new cars represent enormous development progress in the technology that underlies battery replenishment and energy recovery during braking. Meantime, new team entries and supplier alignments, along with a considerable shuffling of drivers between teams, ensure there will be nothing predictable about the coming championship quest.