Formula E Saudi Arabia

Ad Diriyah preview: Excitement building as Formula E takes bold new step into the next generation

New teams, new faces, new regulations and an all-new Generation 2 car are just some of the treats that await fans of Formula E as the 2018/19 championship gets underway at Ad Diriyah this weekend.

Now in its fifth season, Formula E is set to gain an even bigger fan base than ever before with 22 ‘Gen2’ cars blasting around some of the world’s most iconic cities – Sanya in Hainan, South China, joining the calendar for Round 6 and Monaco, Santiago de Chile and Hong Kong making welcome returns.

With the new machines housing 250kW of power, gone this season is the need for midrace car swaps and perhaps the most exciting innovation is ‘Attack Mode’, inspired by the Mario Kart video games.

With Attack Mode, drivers can access an additional 25kW of power to aid overtaking or defend position via a button on their steering wheel. Much like DRS in Formula One, activation zones are positioned around the circuit and their offline positioning means that drivers lose time before getting to deploy the higher boost, making for exciting racing.

Interestingly, and in order to prevent detailed simulation planning, the length and number of Attack Mode activations will only be revealed hours before the race and drivers will not be able to access the mode on the opening two laps of the race. Fans of the sport will know precisely when a driver has activated Attack Mode, as the Halo lights will glow blue.

Attack Mode is not the only way in which drivers are able to gain a boost advantage, the popular interactive ‘Fan Boost’ from previous seasons still in effect wherein fans vote for their favorite driver across social media. But in another change, the number of drivers that can win the boost through popular vote increases from three to five.

Of course, with every new season comes new faces and new teams and Motorsport Tech will be watching on with intertest how Acronis partnered team NIO and drivers Tom Dillmann and Oliver Turvey performs in 2018/19. It won’t be easy against the might of BMW, Audi, Jaguar, DS Virgin, Penske, Nissan and final confirmed entry HWA.

And Dillmann and Turvey face stiff driver opposition as former F1 stars Felipe Massa and Stoffel Vandoorne join the established order alongside fellow rookies Pascal Wehrlein and Gary Paffett.

What a season we have in store!

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Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.